When I think about food this time of year my mind immediately thinks of baked goods. Thanksgiving it’s about the savory foods, but this time of year is about treats and baking. Which if you know me, you would know I am fairly new to baking, but I’m beginning to really like it more than I ever thought I would. My favorite is baking homemade breads. Breads can be challenging, but there is nothing like the warm fuzzy feeling you get when eating warm fresh bread right out of the oven, that you worked on with your own two hands. Baking with yeast can be intimidating and can be somewhat of a process, waiting around for dough to rise, then rest, then sequences of folding or kneading, and then another rise and finally baking. Then hopefully it turns out! Right?
Last year I was on a mission to learn how to make homemade bread. My dad knew this so for Christmas he gave me a really cool oven bread stone and several bread books he uses (my Dad likes to cook and bake as much as myself). One of the books was by Peter Reinhart, called Artisan Breads Every Day. That January, Peter Reinhart ended up in Reno teaching a bread class. Failing horribly at his Babka recipe, I decided to jump on the opportunity to attend his class to learn a little more. Before taking this class the whole concept of baking and having to abide by the rules was intimidating, see I cook to my own rules and make up and alter recipes comfortably – except when it comes to baking! So a few things I learned from that class were 1) baking is not as strict as I once believed it to be, and 2) even Peter Reinhart deviates from his own recipe directions. As for the Babka Peter ended up having to lower the oven temperature to cook the bread through without burning the outside (my Aha! moment, this is where I went wrong). There was a lot I learned from this class I could share with you, but this article would run on for days so for now I give you this recipe for Kolachi. It is one of the simplest yeast doughs I have made. Whether you are new to baking or a seasoned baker you will enjoy how simple it is to make Kolachi dough. I even made this recipe all by hand – no stand mixer (which is rare for me).
Kolachi is of Slovak origin and this particular recipe has been passed down through my family (from Croatia). Two of my fondest holiday treat memories are ones that my Grandma Skiba made, Kolachi and clothespin cookies. These two treats are tastes that remind me of Christmas and have become staples to my holidays just like the Christmas tree. Grandma Skiba was a seamstress so in addition to Kolachi and clothespin cookies I remember all the hand made gifts she made for me. My favorite is a stocking that is completely hand embroidered from top to bottom with my name on it. I hang it up each year to remember her by. Several years ago my Aunt in Kansas began making Kolachi and clothespin cookies and sends a package to me, which I selfishly hide away and eat when my daughter is not looking. The first time my Aunt sent me the package I had not tasted either of these treats in years, but once I tasted them you know how some things just trigger wonderful memories from your childhood – yea, a nostalgic experience! Since Kolachi is not a very well known recipe and because I enjoy it so much I wanted to share this with you. I hope you enjoy – from my family to yours!
1 cup milk
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large cake yeast (fresh!), soften in warm milk (or 3 pkgs of dry yeast)
3 eggs, beaten
5 cups flour
- Heat the milk to a near boil stirring constantly, remove the milk from the heat and stir in the butter, sugar and salt stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted. Cool to warm (80-90°F). (Remember anything over 140°F will kill the active yeast).
- Whisk in the yeast, then let sit while you get the flour ready and beat the eggs.
3. Add eggs and flour, mix well with a wooden spoon.
4. Knead the dough lightly and form into a ball.
5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rise until it doubled in size (about an hour).
6. Punch down (isn’t yeast dough therapeutic) and divide in 7 or 8 balls about 6oz each.
7. Roll into rectangles.
8. Spread nut filling or date nut mixture and roll up jelly roll style crimping the ends and slightly tucking them under to keep the filling from oozing out. (3 rolls to a pan). Your rolls will be about 3 inches wide and 7-10 inches long
9. Prick with fork 2” apart. Let rise for 30min – 1 hour. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until brown.
Recipe Notes: If dough is too soft, knead in a little flour.
You can use this dough to make dinner rolls, cinnamon buns or bread. (I have not yet tried either of these uses).
Nut mixture (Pictured)
2 lbs shelled nuts ground. (nuts to be ground finely or they will poke through the dough).
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups milk (add a little at a time)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon vanilla.
- Grind nuts until coarsely ground, add the sugar and grind until the mixture is finely ground.
- Add egg, vanilla, and milk, adding the milk a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Cook on low heat to combine, then cool before spreading on dough.
Date & Nut Mixture
Small package of dates
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup hot water
1 lb. ground nuts
- Mix dates, sugar, flour, and water and simmer 10 minutes.
- Add 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Mash the dates with a potato masher.
- Add 1 pound ground nuts, cool before spreading on dough.
Notes: If mixture is too thick, add a little water.
Slice into 1” pieces and serve. You can wrap the loaves in press ‘n seal or plastic wrap to keep. Keep stored at room temperature.
Makes 7-8 loaves.