Nothing beats the flavor of a freshly baked pastry. And the Czechs are crazy about pastries! With a cup of coffee for breakfast, a snack, or even a quick dinner, a piece of sweet kolach or strudel serves as a satisfying treat everywhere. In this article, I'll go over some of the most popular types of sweet pastries in Czech cuisine.
I present many of these goodies in separate articles on my blog. I added the link to the recipe below each photo; feel free to click and explore each recipe in detail!
➜ Get the recipe: Czech kolache
Probably the most famous representative of Czech bakeries. Traditional koláč is always round in shape, with various fillings in the middle, most often poppy seed, cottage cheese, or plum jam. The surface of the cake may be decorated with almonds, raisins, or sprinkled with streusel topping, called drobenka or posypka.
The classic koláč is about the size of your palm. If it's smaller, it's named a koláček.
Fun fact: 1 piece is called koláč (kolach), while 2 and more pieces are koláče (kolache). The word kolaches is the American version of the plural, not used in the Czech Republic because it is essentially a double plural.
Vázaný koláč (Tied kolach)
A type of cake that is not round but square. A square-shaped piece of dough is covered with filling in the middle, and the sides are folded over it. A precise baker also sprinkles this pastry with crumble topping. The Czech call this kind of kolac vazany, which could be freely translated as tied or folded.
➜ Get the recipe: Czech vdolky
Made from yeast dough, a vdolek (or vdolky, plural) belongs to the popular Czech sweet pastries, either fried in fat or baked in the oven. When finished, it is covered with povidla plum jam and then topped with a cap of cream cheese filling.
➜ Get the recipe: Loupacek
A favorite sweet pastry that children love when spread with butter and jam, or snacked on with yogurt. Loupáček is baked from yeast dough, made like a roll, and bent into the shape of a crescent. Before putting it in the oven, brush a loupáček with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
The other Czech word for loupáček is makovka.
A simple pastry shape filled with a sweet filling. It is made from different types of dough; the one you see in the picture is made from puff pastry.
➜ Get the recipe: Mazanec
Mazanec is a Czech Easter bread made from rich yeast dough. The mazanec in the photo is a miniature version. Before baking, traditional mazanec (regular size) is cut into a cross shape on the surface.
Štrúdl, závin (Strudel or Roll)
➜ Get the recipe: Easy apple strudel
While the word Strudel is of German origin but commonly used in the Czech Republic, the Czech alternative is závin. Czech strudel is most often filled with grated or sliced apples, a filling of poppy seeds, or cream cheese (tvaroh).
➜ Get the recipe: Vanocka or houska bread
Delicious buttery pastry, traditionally baked at Christmas. It is a braided sweet bread, with a rich addition of almonds and raisins. In the past, vánočka was called a houska, which can be confusing nowadays because today's Czechs know a completely different type of savory pastry as a houska.
➜ Get the recipe: Buchty buns
No one can bake better buchty than mom or grandma! Buchty buns are sweet brioche-type pastries with various fillings, often made of ground poppy seeds, plum jam, cheese, or fruit. The buchty buns are square, which is why they are sometimes called bricks.
This pastry also appears in classic Czech fairy tales, when a bunch of buchty buns is given by moms to their sons who go out into the world to gain some experience.
➜ Get the recipe: Koblihy
Yum! Round beauty with fruit filling (in Czech marmalade or jam), fried in fat. Finally, the kobliha needs to be properly sugared on its surface! Czech kobliha is similar to pastries like donuts, beignets, or Berliners.
Ještědka is a sweet pastry roll filled with poppy seeds and sprinkled with drobenka crumbs. It is a regional specialty from the region where I live. It got its name from the Ještěd mountain, looming above the city of Liberec.
The best translation of this pastry's name is "cinnamon snail," known in the American world as cinnamon rolls. This pastry is probably not typically Czech, also concerning the icing, which is not common for Czech pastries.
➜ Get the recipe: Trdelnik
In Prague, the Czech capital, and other major Czech cities, trdelník is offered by vendors in street stalls. Trdelník appears to be particularly popular with tourists, both from abroad and from the Czech Republic. An interesting way of making this pastry is to bake it right on the street over hot coals.
Kohoutí hřebeny (Rooster combs)
➜ Get the recipe: Kohoutí hřebeny
Made from puff pastry and with various sweet fillings, this pastry tastes not only good but also looks beautiful. Making it can be a little tricky, but with just a little care, you'll wow your guests with this tasty goodness when they pop in for a talk and a cup of coffee.
If you visit a local bakery in the Czech Republic, you will discover a wonderful world of classically shaped pastries, as well as modern delicacies that have come to us from neighboring countries.
I believe that whatever piece you choose will melt on your tongue and leave you with a pleasant memory!