Kolaches are one of the many pastries that have come to America from Europe during the great waves of 19th and 20th century immigration. They originate in the Czech and Slovak territories of the former Austro-Hungarian empire, and consist of a sweet pastry dough filled with poppy seeds, prunes, cream cheese or seasonal fruit. They are regionally popular in places settled by Czech immigrants, including Texas, Nevada and Minnesota. Like many other pastries, the easiest way to prepare them is to make the dough ahead of time, and then fill and bake them as needed.
Prepare kolache dough according to your favorite recipe, or purchase it pre-made if available in your area. Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour. Decide whether you wish to freeze your kolache dough as individual portions, or as a larger piece of dough that can make a dozen pastries. If you are freezing in portions of a dozen, divide the dough into the correct number of pieces. For example, if your recipe makes two dozen kolaches, make two dough balls.
Roll the kolache dough into two sheets, if you wish to freeze the dough in batches. Lay the sheets on wax paper and layer them onto a sheet pan or large plate. Cover with plastic film wrap, and freeze in a flat position. Once frozen, the dough sheets can be removed from the sheet pan and bagged for longer term storage.
Decide on the shape of your kolaches, if you intend to freeze the dough for individual pastries. Some kolaches are simply balls of dough with an indentation made in the top for the filling. To prepare this variety, cut the dough into the correct number of balls, and wrap each one in plastic wrap for freezing.
Cut sheets of rolled kolache dough into squares, if you prefer the folded style of kolache. Stack the squares neatly on pieces of cut wax paper, or on patty papers purchased from your butcher. Freeze them on a flat sheet as detailed above, and then bag for longer term storage.
Thaw the kolache dough overnight in the refrigerator for best results, then use as directed in your recipe. Sheets of dough will thaw on the counter in 90 minutes or less, depending on the ambient temperature, and may be cut or rolled into balls as desired. Individual squares of dough may be thawed in the hand to make a quick dessert for one or two.
An old-country variation on kolache seldom seen in America is essentially a fruit pizza, with seasonal fruit spread across the sweet dough and lightly sugared before baking, or topped with streusel. Cherries and Italian-style plums are especially good for this use.The square or folded variety of kolache may be filled before freezing, for greater convenience. Freeze as directed previously.
Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.