If you know much about Texas, you know how much we love our kolaches. Brought here by Czech immigrants, these little pastries soon became a favorite of everyone in the state – at least I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like them. Original fillings were dried apricot, sweetened cream cheese, and poppy seed. There is also a related sausage-and-pastry treat called the klobasnek, using the same dough, that is more like a pig-in-the-blanket. These days, klobasneks are also called kolaches by everyone here but old timers. And people put all kinds of things in both versions, especially in Houston it seems. Someone here makes a version with char sui, and another with boudin. I’ve seen them with spinach, artichokes, and tomatoes, and also with broccoli and cheese. I’ve heard a rumor that there is a vegetarian sausage one available here, but I haven’t found it. So, I made my own.
The typical yeasted dough used for kolaches is similar to a brioche dough and enriched with plenty of milk, butter and eggs. I had great luck with veganizing a couple of versions of the brioche in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, so I made a rich version of one in the book. Mine has almond milk, coconut oil, and ground golden flax see. Also, I really like making my bread with as much whole-wheat flour as possible, so these are about 70% whole wheat (see the note at the end of the recipe.)
I made some veggie sausage ones, cream cheese, and – because I’m not the biggest fan of apricots – apple. You can use any fruit in place of the apple, as long as it’s something you’d also like in a pie. (So, yes to cherries, blueberries, peaches, but no to cantelope or watermelon). Finally, there is a simple topping that goes on the sweet ones called posypka. Don’t leave this off – without it, they’re not real kolaches in my opinion. This recipe makes 24 kolaches, about 12 servings, but 4 people can eat them easily in a couple of days while they’re fresh, or you can freeze half for later.
- 3-3/4 cup/16.9 ounces/480 g bread flour, (see note)
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast (or one 1/4-ounce packet)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup golden ground flax seed
- 1-1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 cup lukewarm almond milk
- 1/2 cup coconut oil or Earth Balance margarine, melted
- 2 links Tofurkey kielbasa cut into 4 pieces each (7 ounces)
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoons almond milk
- 1 cup peeled, diced apple, from 1 large apple
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon Earth Balance margarine (or coconut oil)
- Tiny pinch cinnamon
For the dough, combine the bread flour, yeast, sugar, ground flax seed, salt, almond milk, and coconut oil or margarine with a fork. Knead in a stand mixer for 5 minutes or by hand for 10. Oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to it. Oil the top, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1-1/2 hours.
Oil a baking sheet. Divide the dough into 3 equal-sized pieces. Divide the first piece into 8 smaller pieces. To make the sausage kolaches, flatten a piece of dough. Place a sausage piece in the middle and cover with dough. Pinch the seam closed. Roll the kolache around in your hands to distribute the dough evenly and place seam-side down on the baking sheet. Put these at least an inch apart.
Divide the remaining 2 dough pieces into 8 pieces each. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten into a disk about 3/4-inch thick. Place the disks of dough on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Set aside and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
To make the cream cheese filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and almond milk in a medium bowl. A handheld electric mixer works well for this.
To make the apple filling, combine the diced apple, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, until the juice from the apple thickens slightly.
To make the posypka, combine the flour, sugar, margarine or coconut oil, and cinnamon in a small bowl with a fork. Mix well.
When then kolaches have risen, heat oven to 375 F. Press a deep divot in each of the non-sausage ones so that you can add about 2 tablespoons filling to each. Fill 8 with the cream cheese mixture and eight with the apple mixture. Sprinkle the posypka over the top of the cream cheese and apple ones. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until tops are golden.
I buy 5-pound bags of King Arthur white whole-wheat flour and 2 pound bags of white bread flour and mix them to make most of my yeast bread. This results in bread or pastry that's about 70% whole wheat. For a more typical kolache, use all white bread flour.