If you wanted to try traditional Czech food, you shouldn’t miss “koláče” - kolaches. Koláče or koláčky is a sweet round Czechoslovakian pastry, filled with different kinds of filling.
What Is a Kolache
Kolache (koláče) is a sweet Czech pastry made of yeast dough. It has a round shape about 3-4 inches (8 cm) in diameter. The kolache is flat, generously filled in the middle with fruit, poppy seed, or cottage cheese filling. Before baking, the sides of the pastry are brushed with beaten egg and the surface is sprinkled with streusel topping.
My tip: Try out Czech buchty, yeasted buns with sweet filling!
How to Pronounce Kolache
I have recorded a short audio clip for you to hear the Czech pronunciation of the word kolache (koláče). I am a native Czech, so you get the pronunciation first hand! 🙂
The first two words in the audio clip mean "koláč" (1 piece of kolache). The last two words mean "koláče" (2 and more pieces of kolache).
Kolach vs Kolache
Wondering what the plural of kolache is? Let me explain.
In Czech, one piece is called a "koláč" (kolach). Two or more pieces are called "koláče" (kolache). So the word kolache is itself plural!
However, in the US, the letter s is often added to the end of the word kolache to form the word "kolaches". In effect, it is a double plural.
How to Make Kolaches
- Make a starter from yeast, lukewarm milk and pinch of sugar.
- In a bowl, add flour, melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, rest of milk, and activated starter.
- Make a smooth kolache dough using your hand or kitchen stand mixer.
- Let the dough rise for one hour.
- Divide the raised dough into small scones. Let them leaven for another 30 minutes.
- Flatten the scones using the bottom of a glass.
- Brush the edges with beaten egg.
- Place filling in the middle of the kolaches.
- Sprinkle with streusel topping.
- Bake kolaches in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes.
➤ This was a brief overview of how to make the kolaches. Detailed instructions with ingredients including quantities and process photos can be found in the recipe card below.
Before we dive into the recipe...
There’re a lot of recipes for homemade kolaches. This one is an authentic recipe from „Kuchařka naší vesnice“, a famous Czech cookbook from the nineties.
This cookbook was a gift from my parents when I got married! The cookbook contains many traditional Czech recipes, and to this day, it still serves as the basis for my cooking.
České Koláče - Czech Kolache
Sweet yoast dough:
- 3 and ¾ cups (450 g) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (70 g) granulated sugar
- ⅔ stick (75 g) butter (unsalted, melted)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 and ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup 240 ml milk (lukewarm)
- lemon zest
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg (beaten, to glaze kolache before baking)
- butter (to grease a baking pan - or use parchment paper)
Sweet yeast dough for Czech kolache:
- Heat half of the milk until it is lukewarm – test the temperature with the tip of your little finger.
- Add a tablespoon of sugar.
- Mix in the active dry yeast and let it leaven for 15 minutes in a warm place.
- Meanwhile, warm the rest of the milk up until it turns lukewarm, and melt the butter. The butter must be liquid, but not hot!
- Put the flour into a bowl, add sugar, salt, egg yolks, melted butter, lemon zest, vanilla, milk, and leavened yeast.
- Knead the dough until smooth and springy. It takes about 5 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with a clean towel and keep it somewhere warm for an hour to let it leaven. You can dust some flour on the dough so that it doesn’t get dry. However, don't cover it with grease – you'd slow down the leavening.
- While the dough leavens, prepare the fillings for the kolache.
- Divide the leavened dough into small pieces, each about 2 inches in diameter. Roll between your hands round scones and lay them down on a tray, which you have previously greased with butter (you can also put a layer of parchment paper on your baking sheet).
- Scones will leaven, so leave enough space between them, on one tray (13 x 9 inches) will take about 9 kolache.
- Let the scones leaven for about 30 minutes, DO NOT skip this step!
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180 °C).
- Take a flat-bottom glass, cover it with a clean towel (you can also dust the glass bottom with flour), and press the scone's middle with the glass carefully. You'll create a flat kolach with the place for the filling.
- Glaze the edge of the kolache with the beaten egg.
- Put the filling of your choice in the middle of the kolache, then sprinkle it with streusel (DROBENKA).
- Bake kolache in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the edges turn golden brown.
- Let the kolache cool down and separate them from the tray carefully. They taste the best when eaten on the same day they were baked!
DISCLAIMER: Because I come from Central Europe, my recipes are based on metric units such as grams or milliliters. Check out how I convert metric units to the U.S. system:Conversion chart
Fillings for Czech Kolache
Many different kinds of fillings go into the middle of a kolach. Typical fillings include:
Prepare the fillings in advance; they need to be at room temperature. That's not only for poppy seed filling or jam/plum butter filling, which needs to be cooked but also for the cheese/tvaroh/quark filling.
Drobenka - streusel topping:
The top of the kolach is sprinkled with „drobenka“ or „žmolenka, posypka“. It is a powdery mixture made from butter, flour, and sugar. You can find streusel or crumbled topping in the US similar to this „drobenka. “
The glass method is a favorite one amongst the Czechs.
The dough right under the filling must be thin. This results from pressing down the glass in the middle of the scone. This method is called „vypichované koláče“ in the Czech Republic.
Czech kolache are very traditional here in the Czech Republic. The recipes for kolache are very often passed down through families.
Different regions have various kolach decorations. Instead of streusel, they use blanched almonds (on poppy seed or plum butter filling), raisins on a cheese/tvaroh/quark filling, or the fillings alternate and create different patterns.
You can get different types of kolache which vary in their preparation in Czechia: „moravské, chodské or vázané“.
TIP: Czechs eat often koláče for breakfast!
Koláč (kolach) – singular, koláče (kolache) - plural, or in US kolaches.
Try out Moravian kolache, double-filled sweet pastry made from yeast dough.
Here is an excellent article at New York Times: The Kolache: Czech, Texan, or All-American? (All Three)