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If you’ve spent time in Texas or The Czech Republic, you might have heard of—and tasted—kolaches. Fruit jam kolaches, quark spread kolaches, poppy seed and prune kolaches, sausage kolaches… wait, which one doesn’t belong? Sausages—that’s a klobasnek. You might have heard a klobasnek being called a sausage kolache, though, which isn’t technically correct.
So, what are kolaches anyway? How are they different from a klobasnek? And how do you make one? Keep reading to find out and for recipes.
Kolaches are sweet pastries made with yeast dough and topped with fruit jam, cream cheese, or a combination of the two. Common fruits that are used are quark, plum, and prune. Some kolache recipes also include spices such as nutmeg or mace.
And just in case you were wondering: kolach is the singular in the Czech language, whereas kolache is plural. But it’s not uncommon to see “kolaches” as the plural term in English language contexts, so that’s not wrong (unless you’re trying to speak proper Czech).
History of Kolaches
Kolaches were introduced to the U.S. in the late 19th century by immigrants from The Czech Republic. They’re still eaten there, as well as in parts of the U.S. with a history of Czech immigration, particularly Texas and Iowa. In the U.S. (and modern-day Czech Republic) they’re eaten as snacks or breakfast foods, but traditionally they were eaten during religious holidays in Europe.
What’s the Difference Between a Kolache and a Klobasnek?
In some places, particularly Texas, you’ll hear the word kolache used for a savory, sausage-based snack called klobasnek. Sometimes a klobasnek is called a sausage kolache. While many people will know what this means, it’s not strictly true (and a lot of Czech Americans don’t like it!).
Kolache are always sweet. While the dough used for kolache and klobasnek is the same, the similarities end there. Another difference between the two snacks is that klobasnek originated in Texas. Kolache, on the other hand, were introduced directly from the homeland. So, next time you’re in Texas and are about to order a sausage kolache, use its proper name: a klobasnek.
Looking for a Kolache Dough Recipe?
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Unless you’re planning a trip to The Czech Republic soon, the easiest place to pick up a tasty kolache is in Texas, especially an area of central and eastern Texas known as the Texas Czech Belt. Here, you’ll find them for sale in small local bakeries, particularly in the towns of West and Caldwell. A Houston-based bakery chain, Kolache Factory, is said to have popularized the sausage klobasnek and also serves a wide variety of other types.
Caldwell, TX is one of several cities around the country that hosts annual kolache festivals. Other places famous for their kolaches are Verdigre and Prague, Neb. and Montgomery, Minn. You’ll likely be able to find them in bakeries and specialist shops anywhere with a sizable Czech immigrant population—there’s even a beloved Czech bakery in Brooklyn.
If you don’t live anywhere near a stronghold and don’t have any trips planned, why not try making your own? If you have basic baking skills, you shouldn’t find them very hard to make. Here are a few resources to learn how to make kolaches.
- Moravian kolache: The most authentic versions are Moravian ones. This recipe for Moravian kolache includes a double filling of cream cheese and plum jam, topped with crumbly streusel. But, a simple egg wash on top of the dough is fine, too.
- Kolache cookies: If you’re looking for a recipe that makes more of a cookie-type kolache that you can give as a gift, check out this recipe. They’re super easy to make, too.
- Jam kolache: You don’t need any really fancy ingredients to make these. This recipe just uses simple strawberry jam.
Once you’ve mastered how to make them, you might be tempted to try cooking other Czech, Slovak, and Central European foods, such as pierogi. Generally rich, hearty, meaty, and suitable for cold winters, Czech cuisine proves that there’s so much variety in European cooking. It couldn’t be more different from the Italian food that’s popular in the U.S. Expand your horizons and eat good food!
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