Seriously Tasty Kolaches
On Texas I-35 somewhere between Hillsboro and Waco (or Dallas and Austin for those unfamiliar with Texas geography) lies the seemingly nondescript town of West. However, West, Texas is home to the famous Czech Stop Bakery and Gas Station, where you can stock up to your heart's content on all sorts of delicious delicious pastries. Kolaches, in general, are very common to the Central Texas region, which is likely a result of the Czech and German immigrants who settled in the area long ago. I grew up eating kolaches and they've always been one of my favorite breakfast foods.
Adapted from here and here.
For the Dough
- 1 packet of yeast
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed (110-115 degrees)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus more for brushing on the pastries.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Filling
- 1 package smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise (I recommend Opa's Smoked Meats, if you can find it. It's made in Fredricksburg, in Central Texas, so I'm not sure of its distribution area, but it's by far the most delicious sausage you can buy. I always buy the Jalapeno and Cheese sausage. It's so tasty.)
- Grated cheese and/or jalapeno, optional
- In a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk, sugar, and 1 cup of the flour. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, which should take between 10-15 minutes.
- Melt the butter. Beat the butter with the eggs and salt. Add the eggs to the flour/milk mixture and blend. Slowly add the remaining 2 cups of flour. The dough should be soft, moist, and somewhat sticky. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. At this point you may need to add extra flour if your dough is extremely sticky. I probably added an extra 1/4 a cup of flour. BUT be very judicious in how much flour you add, because the more flour, the more dense your pastries will be and the goal is soft and light pastries, not hard and dense ones.
- Put the dough in a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
- After the dough has risen, punch the dough down and allow to rise again in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 8. If pressed for time you could skip this step, but I really recommend allowing the dough to do the second slow rise. This rise will allow the dough to develop a more complex flavor and be tastier overall. It's why those "no-knead" recipes work.
- After the second rising divide your dough into 8-12 even pieces, depending on how big your sausage is. Roll the pieces into ovals and then flatten. Place these on a greased cooking sheet and allow to rise for another 30 minutes, until slightly puffed up.
- Place the sausage (and/or additional toppings) on one side of the dough and roll the dough around the sausage. Try to be gentle during the step, because you do not want to flatten the dough out too much. If end up getting a little aggressive, you may want to allow the dough to rise for another 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and delicious. Brush with some melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven. Serve warm.
Most of the time involved in this recipe is just waiting for the dough to rise. I highly recommend starting the dough in the evening and just letting the second rise happen over night. Then you'll be able to get those babies on the breakfast table in no time.
And although these are not bona fide Czech Stop kolaches, they'll at least keep the cravings at bay until I take another trip down I-35. Enjoy!