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Kolaches are a traditional Czech pastry, kinda somewhere between a filled donut, a danish, and a sweetbread roll. Of course, they’re nothing like any of these :-). Though the ones I’ve made here all have dessert and/or breakfast fillings (fruit flavors and cream cheese filling both fall into that category), you can also make kolaches that have sausage filling, potato filling, sausage or potato and cheese filling … the possibilities go on. Indeed, on the Czech recipe sites I came across in my hunt for an original recipe to adapt there were many very interesting kinds of fillings, and it really appears that the possibilities are pretty endless!

I met kolaches driving to College Station, TX with Jennifer. Her family traditionally stops at the Czech Stop gas station to fill up because you can buy fresh kolaches there. Apparently the Czech people who helped populate Texas originally have made the treats so popular that you can get them all over the place. I had no idea why she insisted we stop there (this was pre-Celiac diagnosis, of course), but when Sean, who was also in the car, heard that a) kolaches could be obtained at this place and b) that I had no idea what they were, he immediately seconded the idea (I guess his Texas roots suddenly started showing :D). So we stopped, and we got kolaches, and I enjoyed them, and Jennifer and Sean breathed a sigh of relief that I was no longer an uneducated heathen northerner (at least concerning the importance and tastiness of kolaches). Since then I have driven over various other parts of Texas and found many other little kolache stands along the way … usually at gas stations (though I hear tell there are bakeries with whole cases of kolaches if you go further from the highway). Go figure. My husband and I stop at a particularly good one that is roughly on the way to Houston because it makes at least a few types of kolache that are sugar-free, so he can have more than just a little bite of one. Of course, they’re using a fake sugar substitute (probably Splenda), but it’s still more than he can get in most other places. Now that we’ve moved out of Texas (and, I must admit, I really don’t want to move back, even for the kolaches! I prefer Chicago winters to Texas summers) we can’t get kolaches, sugar free or otherwise, at all. So, I decided to adapt a basic kolache recipe to use natural sugar substitutes and whip up a batch for our house. They turned out quite well, so I’ll share the recipe with you!

Note: Kolaches often have posypka, or “sprinkle,” on top. It’s just a crumbly topping made of flour, sugar, and butter cut together (much like the first step of short bread). I neglected to make any for this batch, I got distracted and popped them in the oven without it, so I don’t have the natural sugar version proportions to give to you. The next time I make a batch I will remember to make some and to pay attention to the proportions I use, and then I’ll update the post. Don’t worry, the kolaches are tasty with or without it!



  • 1 package (2.25 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup baking stevia
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more for kneading with
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • additional 1/4 cup or so of melted butter for brushing with


1. Warm the milk to about 110 degrees Fahrenhite (to the point that it feels nice and warm but not hot when you stick your finger in it) and dissolve the yeast. Let sit for about 5 minutes to begin activating. After five minutes add 1 cup of the flour and the baking stevia and mix thoroughly. You should have a liquidy sort of dough (you could not handle it with bare hands, it’s more like muffin batter).

2. Cover this mixture and let it rise until doubled, anywhere from 30-60 minutes depending on how warm your kitchen is. Letting a dough rise like this, before you’ve added all the flour, is called letting a sponge form. It’ll look kind of like a sponge when it’s risen, with lots of visible little air bubbles.

3. When this is doubled, beat together the eggs, the 1/2 cup melted butter, and the salt. Add the egg mixture to the sponge and mix thoroughly.

4. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition. Once you have added all the flour you should have a very soft dough, just barely workable.

5. Flour a flat surface and turn this soft dough out on to it and knead for about 10 minutes. It is very soft and easy to knead–try not to work in too much additional flour, as that will make your kolaches dense. I usually end up needing a little less than a quarter cup of flour sprinkled over the board (sprinkled as I go, not all at once!) to keep the dough from sticking too much.

6. Once the dough is kneaded put it in a buttered bowl, cover it, and let it rise until doubled once again. This can take anywhere from one to two hours, again depending on ambient temperature.

7. After this rising punch the dough down, form it into egg shaped balls, and place them into a 9 x 13 pan. Flatten the round slightly, until they’re about 2 inches in diameter, and then brush all of them with some of the remaining 1/4 cup of melted butter. Cover the pan and let these balls rise until about doubled, approximately 30 minutes.

8. After this rising, gently make an indentation in the center of the dough for the filling (see notes on fillings below). Careful not to crush the dough too much! Put about a tablespoon of filling in the center of each kolache*. Sprinkle with posypka now, if you remember :-). Generally you try not to get too much sprinkle on the filling itself, and instead concentrate it on the edges of the kolaches.

*If you want to make sausage or potato filled kolaches this will go a little differently. Fruit and similar types of fillings are traditionally put in “open” like this, but sausage, potato and so on are usually in a closed kolache. So, if you want to make those, flatten the dough out all the way, put the seasoned sausage piece or cooked potato and cheese in the middle, and roll the dough shut around it, covering it completely. You should do this BEFORE the rising in the pan, and let the dough rise again, then put them strait in the oven, skipping this filling and sprinkling step.

9. Put the filled kolaches in an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake 15-25 minutes, or until nicely browned. Remove from oven and brush with butter one last time. These are wonderful served warm, but also tasty if you eat them cooled later on. Enjoy!

About Fillings

Fillings for kolaches are pretty simple. As I mention above, it can be most anything you want–fruit, cream cheese, pumpkin spice, poppyseed, sausage, meat and cheese, potato and cheese, and so on. For fruit flavors and things like poppy seed, pumpkin, or cream cheese (pretty much any of the options that could also be a pie or danish filling), you’ll do open face kolaches like I’ve made here. For the more “meal” type kolache you’ll do closed kolaches, as I describe in the * section of the recipe.

As to making the fillings, well, it’s pretty easy. Fruit-type fillings need to be thick or the liquid will run and the kolache will not turn out well. Jam is not thick enough (it liquefies too much when heated). Here are my general guidelines for fruit filling:

  • Obtain a dried version of the fruit you want to use (in the ones pictured I’ve used apricots and blueberries)
  • Cover a portion of this fruit in warm water and let sit 3 hours to overnight, until somewhat rehydrated
  • Put this mixture into a small sauce pan and heat to simmering. Add any additional sweetness you’d like (I find a dash of Truvia works well, if the fruit isn’t already sweet enough) and any spice (a little cinnamon or vanilla is nice in apricot, for example). Simmer for about 15 minutes to boil off a little of the liquid and combine flavors.
  • Let mixture cool slightly, then puree.
  • Use for kolaches!

Of course, how much you make depends on how many kolaches you want to fill. I haven’t given specifics because you may want to make a little of several kinds of filling, as I have here, to have variety, or you may want to make a big batch of one filling and have them all the same!

As to cream cheese or pumpkin or poppyseed, well, I have no idea how to make poppyseed. I think most folks who like that one use canned filling from the store (which of course won’t work for you if you’re avoiding sugar). For cream cheese, just soften some cream cheese until easy to work with, add a small amount of milk, sweetener, and vanilla, and blend well (this can be done with a fork). You won’t need much extra liquid at all, just enough to make it nice and smooth. Pumpkin is best obtained by mixing well-pureed pumpkin and the appropriate spices into cream cheese, in my opinion. Of course, you can make it like a pie filling, but as you have to cook and thicken it before putting it in the kolaches, that is a lot more work. Besides, pumpkin-cream cheese is really good.

For the meal-type kolaches you always need to use a completely cooked filling. They will not bake long enough to cook meat. Cheese will have time to melt, though. So, use a cooked type of sausage, precook any potato-cheese mixture (I hear chunky potato bits work better than mashing a filling), then fill and bake as indicated above.


P.S. Jennifer has a GF kolache recipe … if you beg, maybe she’ll post if for you :-). When I got in here to post this I thought for sure she already had, but apparently not!