for Sourdough Surprises: November 2013
Kolacky, kolachy or kolache mean different baked goods in different cultures. Some are sweet, some savory, some have a yeast-based dough, others feature a cream cheese and butter base. When Sourdough Surprises announced Kolache, a soft pastry that is typically filled with sweetned cheese or fruit, as the November theme, I cheered and turned to a well-worn, 3"x5" card, handwritten by my Austrian-born mother long ago when I was a newlywed. Mom's recipe came from her mother, though it's origin before then is uncertain.
Some food memories recall special moments and family traditions, and these Kolacky do that for me. Kolacky, along with Apfelstrudel , Kupferlin (Viennese Almond Crescents),fruit and nut-filled Austrian coffee cakes and Mom's secret weapon Applesauce Rum Cake have graced the table at decades of Christmas celebrations and birthday parties, as much a part of the festivities as the people who enjoy them. Four generations of our family have relished these treats over the years, but this was the first batch to alter the traditional recipe and incorporate sourdough starter. I won't tell Mom if you don't.
This dough holds no salt and no sugar, but they aren't missed. The sweet fillings don't require any flavor boost from the dough. Any hint of the typical sourdough tang was not discernible, but the starter seemed to react with the baking powder and lighten the dough a bit... maybe. Whatever, the end result made it worth all of my fussing and fiddling with the troublesome dough to form each cookie-like pastry
Troublesome? Oh yes! this dough is notorious for changing from too cold and hard to roll almost instantly into too warm and sticky to handle. Rolling chilled dough between two sheets of plastic wrap solved the rolling problem, but filling and forming called for fast action. Pinching the diagonal corners seemed easy enough, but too many of them unfolded during the final 4 or 5 minutes of baking as the dough puffed.
Pinching all 4 corners and securing with a toothpick was one solution, though it did produce an unusual-looking kolacky. No matter, sprinkled with powdered sugar these square bundles disappeared as quickly as the others with more traditional shapes.
Kolacky are bite-sized treats, so light it's easy to eat half a dozen or more before you realize what you've done. The plate below holds roughly half of today's single batch - all that I could rescue for a photo before enthusiastic tasters reached for "just one more".
Kolacky with Cream Cheese Dough
(from the family recipe, today's notes in red)approx 6 dozen cookies
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
2 generous cups AP flour (rounded to account for the liquid in the starter)
1/4 cup well-fed sourdough starter (not in the traditional recipe)
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
plus your favorite fruit filling*
powdered sugar to dust over the baked cookies
- Cream together the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Add the sourdough starter and mix briefly.)
- Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the cream cheese mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal portions, form into disks and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. (Don't skip this step, you'll thank me later.)
- Working with one dough disk at a time, keeping the others in the fridge, roll out very thin between two sheets of plastic wrap. Cut into 2-inch squares. Put a small amount of filling in the center of each square. (Don't overfill, it will run out while it bakes.) Press 2 diagonal corners together and place on a silpat or prepared cookie sheet. Repeat for remaining dough.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Rotate position midway through baking, avoid over-browning. Remove to a baking rack and dust with powdered sugar.
- Best eaten the same day, but they will hold for several days stored in the fridge in a covered container.
- my homemade Spicy Italian Plum Jam
- Bonne Maman's Fig Jam, plus a handful of pignoli (pine nuts)
- Bonne Maman's Apricot Preserve
- canned Solo or Wilderness brand filling (apricot, poppy seed and
almond are favorites)
- homegrown apricot jam, whizzed up in the blender
- storebought apricot or strawberry jam with orange or lemon extract added for extra tartness to tame the sweet