Sunday, 3 January 2016

Koláče - Kolache

I am a regular visitor to Prague and have often seen Koláče in the bakeries and in the supermarkets.  I ate one, about 10 years ago, but haven't had one since.  So I thought I would like to try to make them.  Doing some research on the internet I discovered that they are quite popular with some people in the USA, where they are known as Kolache.

Basically they are a sweetened dough with a filling. The fillings vary, and often use farmer cheese, or Tvaroh(which is a curd cheese)which is not available to me, though I could make my own, if I had the inclination.  But since it is very much like cottage cheese and ricotta, I decided to use ricotta as my filling.  Other fillings include a poppy seed one, where the poppy seeds are ground to a paste and mixed with milk and sugar.  Another popular one is ground walnuts with milk or evaporated milk.  In fact you can use just about any filling you want, including some delicious preserves or jams.  But I opted just for a basic ricotta filling, with egg, butter, vanilla and lemon zest.  

Since I decided to make these I have discovered that Quark is probably the same thing as Tvaroh, it is an acidic set cheese.  But I haven't seen that in my supermarkets, though they probably have it, if I look in the right place.  So maybe another time I will try quark.

Often Koláče also have a crumble mixture sprinkled on top before baking.  I decided not to do that, but I did sprinkle some freeze dried raspberry powder on some of mine, once they came out of the oven.  

I am very pleased with the result of the bake, they turned out just as I thought they should.  
Koláče - Kolache

Koláče - Kolache Video
Ingredients:
For the dough:
  • 500g plain flour
  • 7g dry active yeast
  • 240ml milk
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1 medium egg(large in USA)
  • 1 egg for egg wash

For the filling:
  • 250g Ricotta, or cottage cheese, or quark, or farmer cheese
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tbsp softened butter

Method:
  1. In a saucepan heat the milk until almost, but not quite, boiling.  
  2. Remove from the heat and add the 50g of unsalted butter.
  3. As the butter melts in the milk it will reduce the temperature.
  4. When the temperature is such that the mixture is lukewarm add one teaspoon of the caster sugar and sprinkle the yeast over the top.  Stir it in and leave it to start fermenting, for about 10 minutes.
  5. In a bowl mix the flour, sugar and salt.
  6. Add the yeast mixture and the egg and mix until you have a rather sticky dough.
  7. Scrape the bowl to get all the flour mixed into the dough and work gently until it is smooth and not too sticky.
  8. Sprinkle some flour into the bottom of the bowl and place the dough on top of it.  Then sprinkle a little more flour over the dough.
  9. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and allow the dough to prove for two hours, or until it has doubled in size.
  10. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  11. When the two hours is almost passed make the filling but incorporating all the ingredients into a creamy mixture.
  12. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  13. Take the risen dough and place on a lightly floured work surface.
  14. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts.
  15. Form a ball of each of the 8 parts of dough and place on the baking sheet, leaving room for them to spread.
  16. Use a glass with a flat base, about 2.5 inches across, dip it into some flour and press into the centre of each dough ball to make a firm indentation with a nice ring of dough around the outside. 
  17. Use an egg wash to brush over the rings of the dough(you don't need to eggwash the indentation).
  18. Fill the indentation of each piece of dough with the ricotta mixture, it should take about 2.5 tablespoons to fill each one.  Don't overfill, so let the mixture just reach the top of the ring, or slightly over.  If you overfill it then the mixture may spread too far during cooking.
  19. Place the Koláče into the preheated oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the dough is a nice golden brown and the filling has set.
  20. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack until cooled.


Note:  I sprinkled some dried raspberry powder on some of mine.  But they can be left plain, or sprinkled with some cinnamon or whatever you like, if you have not put crumble on top before baking.



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