the appetizer:

A World of Cake: 150 Recipes for Sweet Traditions from Cultures Near and Far by Krystina Castella, includes excerpts and recipes like Let's Talk Cake: From Fruitcakes to Funnel Cakes; Upside-Down Pumpkin-Plantain Cake; Potica (Nut Roll); and Kolache.



Makes 24 individual-serving cakes




Making kolaches is an old-world craft. Prepared from a sweet dough, they are stuffed with fruits, seeds, nuts, and cheeses. This particular recipe uses a poppyseed filling common in eastern European pastries and cakes. It is topped with posypka, a crumb mixture made with butter, flour, and sugar.

Czech Republic



To Make the Dough

Combine 1/3 cup of the milk and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in a small bowl; stir to dissolve. Stir in the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the flour to a large bowl, making a well in the middle. Pour the remaining 2/3 cup milk, the egg, the remaining sugar, the melted butter, the salt, and the yeast mixture into the well. Mix until smooth.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

To Make the Posypka

Combine the butter, sugar, and flour in a bowl and mix until it resembles a coarse meal.

To Bake

When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two baking sheets.

Punch down the dough to get rid of some air. Scoop out 2-inch balls of dough with a tablespoon and drop them onto a floured work surface. Roll each scoop of dough into a ball, then press them down into a disk or a square. Press a finger into the center of each disk, and fill the indentation with 1 to 2 teaspoons of poppyseed filling. Place the disks on the baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Let rise for 10 minutes.

Brush the tops lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle the kolaches with posypka. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove the kolaches from the baking sheets, and let cool. Brush the tops with additional butter if you like.


Kolaches in the United States

First created in the Middle Ages, kolaches have evolved over the years to incorporate many kinds of doughs and fillings throughout the Slavic nations. Between the 1850s and 1920s thousands of Czechs immigrated to the United States, with large populations moving to Texas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. They were known as hardworking farmers with a love for celebrations. Today kolache remains a tradition for Czech-Americans, served at weddings and agricultural fairs. Caldwell, Texas, hosts an annual kolache festival in which you can enter a kolache bakeoff, with the winner taking home a prize. Montgomery, Minnesota, claims to be the kolache capital of the world, while Prague, Nebraska, is home to the world's largest kolache.


Poppyseed Filling

Makes about 2-3/4 cups

Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside. Combine the poppyseeds, almonds, and milk in a food processor or blender and grind. Place the mixture in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, add the sugar mixture, and simmer, stirring, for 7 to 10 minutes, until thick. Remove from the heat, stir in the almond extract, and let cool.


Alternative Fillings

Poppyseed is not the only traditional kolache filling. Here are a few others to try.

Peach-Cheese Filling

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Use as the kolache filling.

Prune Filling

Place the prunes in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let sit overnight. Then drain off the liquid and mash prunes in a food processor or blender. Add the cinnamon, sugar, and lemon zest. Mix thoroughly. Use as the kolache filling.

Other Kolache Fillings


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This page created May 2011