Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Killer Kolaches

I'm getting solid use out of my display plate Christmas gift.
Renowned sous chef Nancy (known throughout the world for her star turns with macaroons, tres leches and poblano enchiladas)  emailed me this past week asking if I wanted to get the band back together. Despite still occasionally waking up in cold sweats from the sanity testing macaroon making marathon, I happily agreed and decided we should make the Texas breakfast staple kolaches (a decision cemented while chowing down on the other-worldly ones at Drew's Pastry Place, the greatest little bakery in Texas). For those of you whose breakfast taste buds have been sorely deprived of this delicasy, a kolache is a roll or pastry typically filled with sausage or fruit. Think of it like a breadier breakfast pig in a blanket (except not the jam variety as that'd just be disgusting).

Adapted from AllRecipes.com
Servings: 24 kolaches
Time: 150 minutes
Just set it and forget it!

1 cup warm milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk, beaten
3 cups bread flour
1/2 tbsp salt
3 tbsp butter, softened and cut into pea-sized bits
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp bread machine yeast
Fillings of your choice (suggestions follow)

Consistently sized!
  1. Place the ingredients in a bread machine in the proper order. This is typically wets followed by dry then finished off with yeast. Also, make note that the yeast has to be bread machine yeast. Set the machine to the dough setting and enjoy watching football while the machine does all the work.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375.
  3. Once the dough is done, punch it down on a lightly floured surface and divide into 24 balls. Note: the dough is very sticky so you may need to add extra flour (as well as flour your hands) to aid in managing it.
  4. Arrange the balls of dough on lightly greased baking sheets 1-2 inches apart. Let the dough rise for 15 minutes.
  5. Flatten the balls and make large depressions in them with your thumb.
  6. Fill with any of the suggested fillings that follow or with your own crazy concoctions. 
  7. Fold and seal the dough into a ball. I recommend folding over then pushing the sides in on themselves to form a ball. You can then twist the dough to seal it.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  9. Let cool for at least five minutes before eating so as not to burn your mouth on the super hot inner goodness.
Let's start with the dough. I was worried going in to the baking adventure because most of the recipes I found seemed to have poorly received doughs, but this bread machine one served as the exception (plus it meant Nancy and I could relax and enjoy some episodes of Pushing Daisies followed by football for an unlikely afternoon matinee). The bread proved to be the perfect shell with a nice subtle sweetness and moistness that made even the bites that were sadly lacking of filling just as enjoyable (but do make sure you cram in as much filling as possible as these will expand quite a bit).

Nancy poses with just some of the many options for kolache fillings.
Sausage, Cheese and Jalapeno

1 1/2 -2 Lil' smokies precooked sausages
Cheddar Cheese or cream cheese
2 jarred jalapenos diced for filling and one whole for garnish

Brown the sausages ahead of time to ensure that they'll be warm. Fill first with a layer of cheese (healthy sprinkling of cheddar or a spoonful of cream cheese).  Add some chopped up jalapenos then top with two sausage links spread out across the surface of the dough. After sealing, garnish the top with a whole jalapeno and some cheese sprinkling.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese

Eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheddar cheese, grated

Fry your bacon in a frying pan until crisp. Reserve some of the grease. Add salt and pepper to the eggs then cook scrambled eggs in the bacon grease. Fill with cheese then eggs and chopped bacon. After sealing, top with cheese.


Strawberry rhubarb
Special O'Connor family blueberry jam
Brown sugar for garnish

Spoon a healthy amount of your jam of choice in the center of the dough (and be sure to say "dat's my jam" while doing so). Be careful when sealing because the jam can get all over the outside of the dough causing some oddly colored kolaches. Seal and sprinkle brown sugar on top. Also note that the thicker the jam the better. If you're not careful, the jam can shoot out of the dough in the oven.

::Whips off sunglasses:: I guess it's not what's on the inside that counts. Looks like things just got berry messy. (Fun Fact: I once passed the exam to be a crime scene investigator. Obviously, Carussoisms were not part of the test.)
All of the kolaches were solid additions to any hearty breakfast. In our humble (and oh so very full) opinions, the cream cheese, jalapeno and sausage kolaches were the clear winners. The cream cheese generated a perfectly gooey center, while the jalapeno juices got absorbed by the bread to really boost the flavor (without making it too spicy thanks to the calming cream cheese). Our bacon option that's like a standard family breakfast wrapped up in bread was also delicious (and a favorite of Kevin), and the jam ones provided a great change-up (especially with the crunchy brown sugar topping) to complete a meal with enough options to please anyone. These also might go well with some sprinkled on powdered sugar (a la beignets). As you make these, you should be aware that you will naturally get ambitious and make several mega kolaches consisting of as many of the above fillings as possible.
Unfortunately, Nancy took some home with her depriving me of several breakfasts. Oh well, I guess she earned it.
Nancy and I successfully continued our hot streak of great dishes. In fact, I'm so impressed with her sous cheffery that I'm giving her her own post tag (It's the highest honor that can be given in the culinary world. It's like knighthood only tastier.)

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