I’ve been traveling a lot lately from Austin to the Dallas area between my brother getting married, Kyle having shows there, and just good old visits to see the family. The drive really isn’t too bad, not much to see unless you want to make a pit stop for some Robertson’s Real Beef Jerkey or genuine Czech kolaches from the Little Czech Bakery in West.
I always stop in West. There is just something about a warm kolache made with real sweet and cinnamon-y fruit puree or perfectly seasoned jalapeno sausage. Then there is the beer bread – a dense, buttery loaf that is too heavy and crumbly to toast or even slice. I usually eat it straight out of the bag with my hands, maybe with some peanut butter kind of lumped on top.
Stopping at the Little Czech Bakery has become sort of a tradition for me and … myself, I guess. But more often than not, the place is packed with travelers who have stopped because of a word-of-mouth recommendation and it usually takes 20 to 3o minutes to get in and out because it’s always hard to decide which of the sweet, fruit-filled, and cream-cheesy kolaches to order. I’m a quick one – I’ll take a cherry, apricot, and lemon, warmed up and with a bag of beer bread on the side. Heck yes.
We have a few little kolache places here in Austin, and I like some of their breakfast kolaches even better than what they have at the Little Czech Bakery. Most of the bakery’s savory kolaches are really heavy on the meat, but I really dig on the breakfast ones with egg and cheese. The Kolache Factory makes a great egg and cheese kolache in whole wheat dough as well as one made with spinach and Swiss cheese. But I haven’t found any fruit kolaches in Austin that quite compare. So in an effort to fill my fruit kolache fix, I decided to open my own little kolache factory.
“It will be a learning experience,” I reminded myself as I tried to think of reasons to throw this idea out the window. After reading the recipe, making kolaches looked like a lot more work than fun: making the dough, letting it rise, kneading the dough, letting it rise, rolling the dough, letting it rise. Rise enough already!
But, after three hours of bringing the dough to life, and only 12 to 15 minutes of actual oven time, I had a batch of delicious and not-too-sad-looking apricot kolaches.
Adapted from a recipe on Homesick Texan. Makes 18 to 20 kolaches.
All you need for the kolaches:
1 package of active dry yeast
1 c. warm milk
1/4 c. sugar
3 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. melted butter
1 t salt
All you need for the apricot filling:
1/2 pound dried apricots (or any other kind of dried fruit like prunes or cherries)
Sugar to taste
1/4 t cinnamon
All you need for the posypka (an optional sugar cinnamon topping):
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 T butter
1/8 t cinnamon
Before you start making the kolaches, you have to rehydrate the dried apricots by soaking them in water in a bowl overnight.
Start by combining the yeast, warm milk, and one cup of flour in a large bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let it rise. The original recipe said to let it rise until it has doubled in size, but I am rather impatient so I gave it 15 to 20 minutes to do its thing.
As the dough is rising, beat together two eggs, 1/2 cup of melted butter and salt. You will use the remaining 1/4 cup butter for brushing on the kolaches.
Add the egg mix to the dough mix and blend together. Then stir in two more cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough becomes squishy and moist.
Next, find a floured surface, either a granite counter top or wooden cutting board, and knead dough for about 10 minutes. Add small amounts of flour as needed and continue to fold and knead the dough until it is less sticky on the surface and pretty smooth.
Put dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a dish towel. Let it rise for about one hour. Then punch it down with your fists and pull off pieces about the size of an egg. Roll these into nice balls and flatten them out to three to four inches in diameter. Brush them with the remaining melted butter and put them on greased cookie sheets.
As you let the dough rise again for another 30 minutes, make the apricot filling and optional posypka topping. Transfer the rehydrated apricots and water to a sauce pan and cook on low for 15 to 20 minutes until the apricots are really soft. Add cinnamon, lemon zest, and extra sugar if you prefer your kolaches sweeter. Then use a fork or wooden spoon to mash the soft apricots into a nice puree.
To make the posypka, simply mix all of the ingredients into a crumbly topping.
After the dough has risen for a second time, use your finger to make an indention in the dough without flattening the center too much. Fill each kolache with one tablespoon of the apricot filling and sprinkle with posypka.
The final and most glorious step is to bake them in the oven at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Brush with melted butter when you take them out of the oven and serve warm.
Little Czech Bakery
105 N College Ave
West, TX 76691-1455
The Kolache Factory
3706 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78705-1120