I’m addicted to kolaches. Any and all kinds, but especially these pictured here. Kolaches were brought to Texas by Czech immigrants and now have a cult-like following, for good reason. Almost a Danish pastry, they are made with a brioche-like bread dough instead of laminated layers; their centers filled with creamy sweet cheese and the slightest hint of lemon. When I first came across them in Bread Illustrated (America’s Test Kitchen’s new bread book) I instantly walked to my kitchen cupboards and took out all the ingredients needed: flour, yeast, butter, cream cheese, milk, sugar, lemon. While I worked the dough on my counter top, my mind jumped to purchasing a nearby corner bakery for the sole purpose of filling with kolaches. There would be trays lined with rows and rows of beautiful circles, all topped differently: cream cheese, chocolate and white chocolate, jam and fresh fruit, extracts, vanilla bean, meringue, whipped cream, ice cream. They would compete with local doughnuts shops for breakfast, boasting both simplicity and extravagance in every dozen sold.

Of course, such day dreams are not able to become reality at this point, but each bite I take convinces me otherwise. Maybe one day, Minneapolis. Maybe one day.

Adapted from Bread Illustrated by America’s Test Kitchen
If your dough is not clearing the sides of the bowl after mixing, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it does so (every time I’ve made this I’ve had to add 2-4 tablespoons  extra of flour). You can sub ricotta for half of the cream cheese filling. Use 6 ounces (170g) cream cheese and 6 ounces (3/4 cup) whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese.

3 1/2 cups (491g) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (66g) sugar
1 large egg plus 2 large yolks

Cream cheese filling
12 ounces (340g) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (99g) sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and chilled

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water and pinch salt

For the dough
Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk milk, melted butter, sugar, egg, and egg yolks in a 4-cup measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using a dough hook on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and now dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl but still sticks to bottom, 8 to 12 minutes.

Transfer dough to a well-floured counter. Using your well-floured hands, knead dough to form a smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in a lightly greased large bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Unrisen dough can be refrigerated for at lease 8 hours or up to 16 hours; let dough sit at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping.)

Make the filling
Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and mix to combine. Taste filling – you are looking for the lemon juice to brighten the filling, but not make it taste like lemon. Add more juice if needed. Transfer to bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the streusel
Combine flour, sugar, and butter in bowl and rub between fingers until mixture resembles wet sand. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.

Finish the dough
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down dough and place on lightly floured counter. Stretch the dough into an even 16-inch log. Cut the log into 16 equal pieces (about 2 1/4 ounce each) and cover loosely with greased plastic. Working one piece of dough at a time (keep remaining pieces covered), form into rough ball by stretching dough around your thumbs and pinching edges together so that the top is smooth. Place the ball seam side down on a clean counter and, using your cupped hand, drag in small circles until dough feels taut and round.

Arrange dough balls seam side down on prepared sheets, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until increased in size by about half, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour bottom of a round 1/3-cup dry measuring cup. Press the cup firmly into the center of each dough round until the cup touches the sheet to make indentation for filling. (Reflour the cup as needed to prevent sticking.)

Divide filling evenly among kolaches (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each) and smooth with the back of a spoon. Gently brush the edges with egg mixture and sprinkle with streusel. (Do not sprinkle streusel over filling.) Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway though baking. Transfer kolaches to wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

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17 Responses to kolaches

  1. I’m from Texas, so kolaches are pretty much my favorite thing ever.
    Your recipe is spot on!
    Can’t wait to make these for generations to come! <3

  2. Franzi says:

    These kolaches look just super yummie. Really have to try them once!

  3. These sweet little bites look and sound fantastic!

  4. Linda Mueller says:

    Thank you for the recipe and history.

  5. Allyson says:

    Minneapolis needs a kolache shop. In the meantime, I’ll have to make these for my very own.

  6. cynthia says:

    I am convinced, from your words and these stunning photos, that kolaches are my dream pastry. And before your Instagram of them, I hadn’t even known what they were. These look incredible, Sarah!

  7. grandpa jeff says:

    beautiful and yummy looking Sarah

  8. Have never heard of these before but they look divine. Who hasn’t held a dream of owning a little bakery filled with their favourite baked goods though? I’d fill mine with lemon meringue pies!


  9. Jessi C says:

    I baked these gorgeous pastries this morning, as a way to refocus and ease my worries while my husband is in the hospital. Baking is one way I cope with stress, and I was so happy to offer such a treat to myself and my toddler on a Saturday. Thank you, I love this blog – your writing is beautiful and inspiring, your photos fantastic!

    I had no ricotta, so I used nonfat greek yogurt in its place. It worked really well! My son preferred his with blueberry jam added to the top of the filling.

  10. Caleb says:

    Love the blog!

    Streusel is only 1 tbsp of butter cut into 8 pieces?

  11. I would be your bakery’s best customer/your main gal in the kitchen, because honestly, at this point, throwing my phone in the river and never looking at the internet again and just focusing on kolaches (these look amazing) seems like a logical and fun life choice.

  12. Andrea says:

    They look almost like the real thing! My favourite topping is pear butter thickened with grated gingerbread cookies, or plum jam with a little bit of rum mixed in and topped with cream cheese.

  13. Leda Pomeroy says:

    My kolache is a little different and my family just love them. It can also be use as pie crust dough.
    9 oz, cream cheese
    9 oz. butter
    3 cups flour

    Mix the three ingredients well and chill dough for 3 hours.
    Roll out dough and cut into circles, top with jam and bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.
    Drizzle with powdered sugar frosting.

  14. Stephanie Beall says:

    I want to make these! They look so good and not to difficult, but I am wondering about the temperature of the milk. Does it not need to be warm when it’s added to the yeast? I am not an expert baker and don’t want to assume anything! Thank you!

  15. Karin says:

    Sarah, my grandmother (she was German) made kolaches that looked like this! My mom says prune was her fave filling. Did you know that there are Czech towns about an hour away where kolaches are sold in the bakeries (New Prague, Montgomery). They are different though. They are more like a bun with a filling. They call them kolacky. They even have a “Kolacky Days” festival in the summer.

  16. Jodi L says:

    Hi Sarah!!
    Can not wait to give these a go. Wondered about how to store them and/or if they will let a couple days? Can you reheat them? Are they good at room temp? Let me know!

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