Serves: Makes 18 kolaches
Hands On Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours and 0 minutes
1 cup milk, heated to 105 to 115 degrees
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 ounces pitted prunes (dried plums)
1 cup water (or 14 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons rum or brandy)
1 teaspoon sugar, plus more to taste
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
To make the dough: Grease a large bowl with butter. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a second large bowl, stir together the milk, sugar and yeast. Stir in 1 cup of the flour, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let sit until very bubbly, about 40 minutes.
Stir 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) of the butter and the eggs until smooth. Stir in the salt, followed by the remaining 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a sticky dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is elastic, just barely tacky, and springy to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the greased bowl, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down in the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2- to 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut the dough into 18 rounds. You will need to re-roll the dough once. Evenly spread the dough rounds out between the two prepared baking sheets. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees and make the filling and the streusel.
To make the prune filling: In a small saucepan, bring the prunes and water to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the prunes are very soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Use an immersion blender to blend the prunes and water until smooth. Stir in the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and salt. Season to taste with additional sugar, if desired. Let cool to room temperature.
To make the streusel: In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut the butter into the flour mixture and, using your hands, mix thoroughly to form a sandy meal.
Once the dough rounds have proofed, use your fingers to create an indentation in the center of each round, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Place about a tablespoon of filling in the center of each round. Brush the edges of the rounds with about half of the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with the streusel.
Bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Brush the edges with the remaining butter and serve hot.
About the recipe
These hand-held treats are a specialty of the central Texas “Czech Belt,” which spans the area between Houston, Austin and Dallas, and is centralized in the small town of West. A typical kolache (pronounced koh-la-chee) is made from a tender, enriched brioche dough, shaped into a dimpled circle and filled with some kind of sweet filling, often made from dried fruit and/or cheese.
Our favorite recipe is a hybrid of a few different sources, and we like to mix and match fillings between dried fruit and cream cheese. Try the classic prune filling for a tangy-sweet treat. Amp it up with a few tablespoons of rum or brandy if you’re feeling frisky. Our cream cheese filling evokes a classic Danish and comes together in a jiffy. Whatever you do, make sure to let the dough rise and proof as directed — these kolaches are worth the wait.
Baked kolaches freeze well; to re-heat, stick the frozen pastry directly on the rack in a 400 degree oven and bake until hot.