(pictured above: Kolaches and Apple Braid)
There was a very elderly lady named Fanny Sladek who was in her eighties and worked in the fabrics section of the family department store. She was small and thin, and as spry and quick-witted as any young person. My father told me that her family had been the court florist for Emperor Franz Josef of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and that she knew five languages. Fanny loved children, and she always made a fuss over my brothers and me when we were in the store. We saw her as another grandmother and always gave her a kiss when we saw her.
Each year there was a picnic for store employees at my grandfather’s cottage. Fanny would make the most wonderful kolaches and I always looked forward to the picnic because I could eat her kolaches. They were not only delicious, but they were made with love.
Sweet Pastry Dough Recipe
1/4 cp. lukewarm (105 – 115oF) water
1-1/2 tsp. dry yeast
1 cp. scalded milk, room temperature
1/3 cp. honey
4 cps. whole wheat flour
1-1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cp. melted butter or oil
1 large egg, beaten
- Pour the lukewarm water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Allow 10 minutes to pass for yeast to dissolve and begin to foam.
- Pour scalded milk, cooled to room temperature, into the bowl. Add honey and stir to dissolve. Add 2 cps. flour to mixture, place salt on the flour and then add the butter or oil and beaten egg.
- Mix all ingredients together to form a homogenous mixture. Continue adding flour and stirring to form a solid dough, reserving ¼ cp. of flour for kneading.
- Dump the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Incorporate loose flour and fragments of dough and knead for 10 minutes to form a smooth, elastic dough, using as little extra flour as possible when the dough becomes sticky.
- Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. oil in a clean bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place in a warm, non-drafting place for 1-1/4 hours, or until about double in size.
- Remove the towel and deflate the dough gently by pushing on it. Place dough on a work surface and allow to rest 10 minutes. Dough is now read to use. If making ½ of a recipe, cut the dough in half and double wrap the unused dough and place it in the freezer for use at another time.
Prune Filling Apricot Filling Glaze
3/4 cps. pitted prunes 1/2 cp. pitted apricots 2 Tbs. honey
1/2 cp. boiling water 1/2 cp. boiling water 2 Tbs. hot water
2 Tbs. honey 2 Tbs. honey
1/4 tsp. allspice 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
- To make prune or apricot fillings, soak the fruit in the boiling water in a covered boil bowl for 2 hours or overnight. Purée in an electric blender. Transfer purée back to the bowl and add the honey and allspice/orange peel.
- Once the pastry dough has risen, place it on a work surface and roll it into a rectangle about 12” x 9”. With a 3” round metal cutter or glass cut 12 circles in the dough and transfer circles to oiled baking sheets. Reform scraps and cut 1-2 more circles and transfer to baking sheets.
- Cover dough circles with a damp cloth and place in a warm, non-drafty place to rise for 30 minutes. Remove cloth and make a depression in the middle of each circle with your thumb and fill each depression with about 2 Tbs. of prune or apricot filling.
- Place baking pans in a warm place. Pre-heat oven to 375oF and allow kolache to rise fifteen minutes. When oven is at desired temperature, place baking pans in the center of the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, remove pans from the oven, mix the honey and hot water in a small bowl to form the glaze, and apply to the dough portion of the kolache with a brush. Transfer kolache to wire racks to cool. Serves 13-14.