Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sourdough Kolaches

This month's Sourdough Surprises was particularly awesome, in that it was inspired by one of our members! She suggested that it might be fun to try to make kolaches, a pastry of Czeck or Slovak heritage consisting of a soft dough surrounding a sweet (usually) filling.

To be completely honest with you, I'd never heard of kolaches before this. I had to google them to get an idea as to what we'd be making.

And to make it trickier, we couldn't find a sourdough version anywhere. Sure, we'd seen references to sourdough versions, but we could not find a single sourdough-risen kolache recipe to use as our inspiration.

So this was a double challenge, as we would now all be forced to step outside of our comfort zones and either create or adapt a recipe for these treats.

Never having had kolaches before, I knew I couldn't create a recipe from scratch, so I chose to adapt one. I started with the King Arthur Flour version. To adapt the recipe, I started by omitting the yeast. Obviously.  I then looked to the wet ingredients. The easieset to look at, for substitution purposes, was the water.  1/2 cup.  Since my starter is at 100% hydration, it is comprised of equal parts water and flour. Well... by weight, not by volume. That's okay, it's close... I figured. So I thought... half a cup of water... there's approximately half a cup of water in one cup of starter... that's what I'll use. But, since that cup of starter also contains half a cup of flour, I figured I'd have to adjust the amount of flour called for in the recipe by, you got it, about half a cup.  Using these calculations and this jerry-rigged recipe, I was ready to start.

I'm pretty much going to let the photos tell the story here, because... well... there are a lot of them.

Once I'd figured out my recipe, the dough came together relatively easily, though it has a bunch of components, as this is a nice, rich pastry.  Melted butter, sour cream, sugar, eggs... and of course, our star... a cup of nice, bubbly, well fed sourdough starter.

And it's seriously just a matter of combining everything together...

...then adding flour until the douch turns into... well... dough.

The yeasted-version recipe that I was basing mine on had said that it would be a soft and smooth dough, but I was surprised at just how soft it was. I wound up needing to add about a cup more of flour than I'd anticipated, but was soon left with a dough that was super silky and soft, yet that I could shape into a ball for its overnight rest.

The next morning was when the real fun started.  My dough was nicely rested and ready to play. The recipe called for the dough to be divided into 20 equal sections. I made my job a little easier by starting with four so I could more readily make the smaller sections.

Little man tried to help me roll each section into balls. We both wound up washing our hands a lot that morning.

We soon had 20 balls of dough...

...which then needed to be flattened out.

Little man found this process to be hysterically funny.

Once the flattened dough balls had rested for another ten minutes, it was time to shape and fill them. I tried to use the back side of a spoon to create the indentations in the middle, but soon found that my fingers worked much better.

You can use any number of fillings, but I went a bit easy on myself and used jam. I used home-made peach jam to fill eight of them, pre-made grape jam for six, and for the final six, I decided to be decadent and used Biscoff.

All that was left was the streussel topping...

...and off to the oven they went!

Now, I knew that mine would take longer to bake than the recipe called for, since the base recipe had said that each of my 20 dough balls would be roughly the size of a golf ball. Mine were definitely larger than golf balls, so I had to really keep an eye. I waited until the dough got nice and puffy and golden...

...and knew that they were perfectly done.

The peach jam worked out really well. The grape... a little runny.  The Biscoff was delicious, but made for an overall pretty dry pastry, so the fruit ones definitely received the better reviews, overall. But everyone really enjoyed them and they made a yummy treat (as well as a special breakfast, too!).

The batch made so many that I even packaged a bunch up to share with neighbors and friends.

What a great introduction to kolaches, and what a fun double challenge for myself!

So how did your kolaches work out? I can't wait to see everyone's posts!

Sourdough Kolaches
(adapted from King Arthur Flour)

For the dough:
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 cup 100% hydration starter, recently fed
2 large eggs
4 cups all purpose flour (approximately)

Warm the sour cream gently, and combine it with the sugar, salt, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sourdough starter and eggs, and  mix to combine. Switch to the dough hook attachment and begin adding the flour. Knead the dough, continuing to add flour, until it’s soft and smooth.  This will take a little bit, so be patient. The dough will be very soft, but you will be able to make a loose ball with it. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for a couple of hours, then refrigerate the dough overnight. Note: This dough won’t rise much, so don’t worry about having to put it in a huge bowl.

For the filling:
There are many, may options for filling. I used two different jams (one homemade, one store bought) and Biscoff for my three different fillings - be creative here!

For the streussel topping:
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Combine the flour and sugar, then stir in the butter, mixing until it is incorporated and the mixture is crumbly.
*note: this made way more topping than I needed - I recommend cutting back a bit... or, since the streussel topping is super delicious, finding something else to top with it!

When you are ready to assemble and bake:
Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it into about 20 pieces, rolling each piece into a ball. Place the dough balls on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them. Flatten the balls till they’re about 1/2-inch thick, then cover them with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.

Using your fingers, make a wide, deep indentation in the center of each flattened dough ball. Don’t be afraid of being decisive here; you want to make a deep enough indentation that it doesn’t just disappear as the buns rise and bake. Place about 1 tablespoon of your chosen filling into each bun. Cover the kolaches, and allow them to rise for about an hour. Don't worry if they don't rise much.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and sprinkle the streussel topping on top of each bun.

Bake the kolaches about 35 minutes, until golden brown (I checked mine every few minutes starting at about 20 minutes). Remove them from the oven, and serve warm, or at room temperature.



  1. King Arthur is such a great resource! And that streussel topping looks mighty good. I'd love to try these.

  2. They look awesome Shelley and I love the sound of home made peach jam!

  3. You scored a major success with these treats. Love the step-by-step photos and commentary of work in progress.

  4. These look fabulous Shelley! Great photos too :)

  5. Your kolaches look utterly perfect!!! Love them! :)

  6. Oh these look great! My cherry preserves were a bit runny too.

  7. I absolutely *love* that we made the same adaptations to the recipe! The peach jam must have been wonderful in them, and the streussel topping is genius!

  8. I like the sound of sour cream in the dough. And the ones with the runny jam look delicious!

  9. These are so pretty - I'm thinking I should try some with jam next time!

  10. Great idea using the glass for shaping. I should try that!

  11. Your Kolaches look beautiful! I'm going to try that idea of refrigerating them overnight, I think that would really help.


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