Monday, April 22, 2013

Strawberry cream cheese kolaches

strawberry cream cheese kolaches

Last week I began the writing phase of my book, which means every morning I get up early and begin working. Because I like to write without any distractions, I don’t talk to anyone or go online until I’ve met my daily word count. And every day last week, there was some new terrible news waiting for me when I finally plugged back into the world. What a week it was.

While there was no shortage of people to be praying for, I have to say that my heart was most heavy for the Texas town of West. A fertilizer plant there exploded late Wednesday and the impact was so extreme that it was felt over 50 miles away. Not to mention, when you saw images of the blast, the mushroom cloud reminded you of a war bomb. To date, 14 people have been reported dead with many still missing and injured. What an awful, horrible event.

The town is a few miles from Waco, almost at the halfway point of the route between Dallas and Austin, so people making that journey have long stopped in West to rest, fill up the tank, and grab something to eat. West has a large Czech population and it’s famous for offering Czech sausages and pastries, such as kolaches. And as Texans love their kolaches, it’s for this reason this tiny Texas town has such a large hold on so many Texans’ hearts.

strawberry cream cheese kolaches

If you’re not familiar with a kolache (pronounced koe-lah-chay), it’s a Czech pastry that’s typically filled with fruit, cheese, poppy seeds, sausage, or eggs. If it’s a sweet filling, the roll will be round or square with an indention at the top that’s been stuffed. If it’s made with sausage or something else savory, then the filling is completely encased in the dough and a mystery until you take that first wonderful bite.

Kolaches are what I like to call share food. In other parts of the country, people will bring bagels or doughnuts when they get together with people in the morning. But in Texas, we offer kolaches. Sure, you could eat just one, but if you’re buying one kolache, you might as well get a few more to share with others as they’re just too good to enjoy on your own.

My grandparents lived in Waco in the early 1950s (and my mom was even born there), and whenever they’d go on road trips to visit their North Texas family, like so many of us, they would stop in West and buy a box of kolaches to share with those they were going to see. My grandma said they'd often pick up boxes of kolaches to take to church or to ladies’ meetings, too.

strawberry cream cheese kolaches

Even today, whenever my uncle makes the trip from Austin to the farm, he usually will stop and pick up a box for the family to enjoy. Though this principle applies even if you’re baking them at home. If you make them from scratch, then you’ll definitely want to share them with others as all that love and effort is too good to keep to yourself.

For me, baking can be therapeutic so when I heard the awful news about West, I took to my kitchen and made a batch of kolaches in honor of the town. I shared them with some friends and now I also share them with you. Because strawberries are in full swing down in Texas, I made a strawberry filling to celebrate the season. Though when you’re feeling sad, a little extra sweetness doesn’t hurt, so I decided to add a cream cheese filling to the kolaches, too.

strawberry cream cheese kolaches


It’s times like these that can make you even more homesick, as the bad news can leave you feeling helpless as you’re so far away from home. These strawberry cream cheese kolaches certainly won’t change what happened, but as I ate them I felt closer to Texas. And while my heart was still heavy, for a moment that connection helped lighten the load.

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Whenever you hear about a tragedy you will also hear about people helping the community. Here are ways people are offering to help the people of West and how you can help, too:

*http://keranews.org/post/update-how-help-victims-west-explosion
*http://www.austin360.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/food2/
*Village Bakery of West has set up a relief fund and can take donations over the phone. Call 254-826-5151.
*If you're in New York, the TexPats and Brooklyn Kolache are having a fundraiser this Sunday.
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strawberry cream cheese kolaches

Strawberry cream cheese kolaches

To keep this recipe from being overly long, I’ve directed you to my previous kolache recipe for the dough and posypka and only included instructions for the strawberry and cream cheese fillings. Please make the dough as directed and be sure and have the melted butter on hand for brushing when the kolaches come out of the oven.

For the kolaches:
One batch of kolache dough
One batch of posypka (crumble topping)

For the strawberry filling (adapted from Saveur):
8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cream cheese filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Method:
To make the strawberry filling, place the sliced strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a pot and allow them to sit with the burner off for 30 minutes or until the strawberries begin to release some of their juices. After they've released some juices, turn the heat to medium high and while occasionally stirring, cook the strawberries until thick and jammy, about 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the cinnamon, and mash the berries with the back of your spoon or a masher. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until needed. (The cooler the strawberry filling is, the less likely it will run as it bakes, says this cook from experience. I’d make this when the dough is doing its first rising or even the night before.)

To make the cream cheese filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy. Stir in the flour, egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon zest until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

After the kolache dough has done the first rising, form it as directed on 2 parchment paper lined baking sheets, cover, and allow it to rise for 30 more minutes.

After this time, preheat the oven to 375°F. Uncover the rising dough and with the back of a spoon or your thumb, gently form a well in the center of each roll. Fill the well with 1 teaspoon of the strawberry filling and then top that with 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese filling. After filling the kolaches, sprinkle the posypka generously over all of them.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown. While baking, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter that’s listed in the kolache dough recipe. When you take the kolaches out of the oven, brush with the melted butter and serve warm.

Yield: 12 kolaches

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55 comments:

Stacey said...

My heart is aching for the people of West. I can't even imagine. We always make a pit stop at the Czech Stop on our way to DFW. Thanks for this beautiful recipe!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Stacey--I can't even imagine either. It is truly such heartbreaking news.

Celeste said...

It's hard and horrible news all right. I was in Waco last summer to tour the Dr. Pepper museum so it seemed even more real having been so near.

My Croatian grandmother had a similar recipe for fruit or poppyseed filled dough cookies. I think strawberry cream cheese sounds delightful.

Dan said...

Fantastic post. A great tribute to the victems of a terrible tragedy with an underlying message of moving on, with rembernace. Thank you for introducig kolaches to me, I hope to try them sometime soon. BTW, my son was born in Texas and I love the people there.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Celeste--Your grandmother's cookies sound amazing--I love Eastern European pastry. And yes, so many people have been to West (or nearby) that this tragedy feels especially poignant.

Dan--You're welcome and thank you for the kind words. And you must try kolaches soon--they are wonderful.

Mike said...

I was going to link to a fairly recent article in Texas Monthly, but a quick search didn't turn up the specific article I had read. (this blog is up near the top in that search, though!) It was a great read; the article rated the kolache places in West and had even gone to the Czech Republic to sample those.

Typical spring here in the Texas Panhandle; we had a record high last week, then a few days later we had a record low. Lovely day today, though!

Kimberly said...

I was so heartsick to learn the tragedy in West. Many Houstonians are praying for our fellow Texans. A few old college friends in Bryan got together with the Pie Belle (Terri Duhon) at St. Thomas Aquinas Church. They baked I think 65 apple pies to send up to West. Baking is therapeutic. :-). I wish I could have gone to help!

Pilar Hernández said...

Beautiful words Lisa. Just this Saturday a friend brought some kolaches to share over coffee.
Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Jasmine said...

Thank you for the beautiful post and tribute. During road trips from San Antonio going North we would be sure to stop in West for gas and kolaches. It's funny how food brings back memories and people together.

DessertForTwo said...

I'm still aching over West, too. We used to drive there during finals at Baylor and get a few boxes to share.

Julie @ Texan New Yorker said...

As soon as I saw just the title of this post, I knew it was a tribute to the people of West. What a tragedy. I'm a Baylor alum, so I know the town quite well. So heartbreaking. Thank you for making those kolaches and for such a moving tribute.

Heather Davulcu said...

Oh so glad to read this today. My heart has indeed been very heavy. I went to school at UT and drove home, through West, often. We always stopped for kolaches. Sweet memories. Love your blog and can't wait for your book.

Ted said...

Lisa thank you for your wonderful recipe and you kind tribute to the beautiful town of West.

lynda thompson said...

We used to live outside of Waco and our hearts break for West. We also have fond memories of stopping in West and getting kolaches. We live in VA now and we really miss kolaches, no one here has heard of them. I will have to try these. Thank you.

Mary Kay Duff said...

A fitting tribute!!! And thank you for lending your voice for support!!!

That being said, let me split hairs....I too was raised on my Granny's kolaches, but she drilled it into us that savory kolaches weren't kolaches but klobasneks, or pigs in a blanket...kolaches themselves are sweet. I can still hear her voice whenever I hear some talk about a "sausage kolache"!!! The things you remember!!!


elljay said...

Lisa, I've read your blog for years, but didn't know your Waco connection. I grew up in McGregor and my husband's family (Jacks) in Waco.
McGregor played West in football and it's a unique town, having kept its Czech heritage and not for the sake of tourism, but simply that it's who they are generation after generation.
Sometimes I didn't share my kolaches and would buy my favorite prune because nobody else in the family liked them.

Linda Jacks


Anonymous said...

There are few things I miss more than kolaches. I have loved them since my days in Waco as a student. I would stop in West most every trip between home and school. The good thing is that when I go home now, there are kolache shops in the DFW area and other parts of N. Central Texas. However, when I do make a visit back to campus, I will still stop in West. My heart and prayers go out to that community.
Melissa, Homesick in Georgia

Kay Whitt said...

So glad you did this post! I thought about you and West last week when I baked up a batch of kolaches last Thursday from your cookbook. Thanks for the addition of the strawberry filling...will try that next time.

Nicolle said...

We always stop in West for kolaches.
I could not sleep the night that the explosion happened. I was so sad, and glued to the news all night!
Your kolaches look amazing!
I like how you call them share food. :)

Deb said...

Lisa, I am a homesick Texan also, native of Hillsboro, just down the road from West. I, too turned to kolache baking last week in an attempt to soothe my heart. Using the recipe from your book I spent several hours in the kitchen honoring that community in a way they would totally understand

Valerie Kirkpatrick said...

Thank you for your wonderful post! When I saw that is was about Kolaches I knew it must be in honor of West. I'm a homesick East Texan in Washington, DC and have very fond memories of begging my mom to stop in West for Kolaches every time we made the drive home from Austin. Very saddened by the news in West, but am also thinking of making some Kolaches in their honor.

Shelley said...

My heart was broken over the explosion also.

28 years since that workplace had a government safety inspection.

We do need the comfort food. Thank you.

Caleb & Daron Walters said...

Just like thousands of Texans my heart stopped for a moment as the details developed. Going to college in Fort Worth any time we went down south, no matter what time of day, we were stopping in West. Thank you for this thoughtful post!

As a fellow "homesick Texan" (I'm in Seattle now), I've been on a hunt for a savory kolache recipe. Will this dough work for both sweet and savory? Are there other special instructions for making the savory? Would love to know (and so would my Homesick Texan of a husband :)

Thank you Lisa!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

These sound super fabulous. Yum!

Angela said...

As soon as I heard about the explosion I thought of the Check Stop and kolaches too, as another homesick Texan I've been craving them ever since. I've also been telling folks here in Albuquerque about kolaches, maybe I'll try your recipe! Baking at this altitude has been a challenge though... Thanks for so eloquently commemorating West and food we all associate with it.

Aislinn said...

Homesick and heartsick in New Hampshire. What a wonderful way to honor a town and its people. I think I will make up a batch to take to the weekly prayer meeting.

Aislinn

Abbe@This is How I Cook said...

These kolaches would cheer anyone up. I have to say that I had kolaches in Houston and they weren't anything like this. It was more like a hotdog in greasy dough. Not my thing. These on the other hand just might do it. Thanks!

Lisa said...

I'm a transplanted Texan living in California and I miss Kolaches sooo much, can't wait to make these. Do you use the same dough to make the sausage kolaches?

M said...

I had no idea there was a kolache shop in bed-stuy! This is big news - I'm so glad you mentioned it! Wish I could make it for the fundraiser but I am definitely thinking of the folks in West, and the tasty kolaches at the Czech Stop.

janna said...

I have been so homesick this week. The first time my ex and I drove down I-35 in 1984 (I typed 1884 the first time, but I'm not THAT old. Plus - pretty sure I-35 wasn't there then!) to our new home in San Antonio, we stopped at the Czech Stop. It, and the kolaches, fascinated us, since his mom was Polish and made kolaches, too.

Now I live in eastern Iowa, where we have a large Czech population. Oddly enough, it's pronounced KO-lahch here, in the singular, and the plural has no emphasis on the last syllable. But they are pretty yummy no matter how it's pronounced!

Debbie said...

My family is of german dutch decent and my great aunt Ruby was known for her poppy seed kolaches. I really regret that I don't have her recipe.

John said...

Thanks for posting...also heartfelt condolences for those in and near West. As a former emergency responder from Kemah, TX, I understand the impact to this small Texas community. Now that I am in NYC, I am glad to have a good kolache recipe to try at home. I have made the worthwhile trip to Brooklyn Kolache and love their stuff...spent $50 last visit just to stock up at home for the wife and I. Thank you for helping this native Texan celebrate these good things from home via this blog.

K. Marie Jesch said...

My grandparents live near Fort Worth and us in Houston. Whenever we would visit them, we brought goodies from West and whenever they came to see us they brought goodies as well. I love the sausages and hot links. Some of them were so dang hot they would burn my lips but I didn't care... they are tasty! Thanks for this post... it made me smile as I thought of the sweet town of West. And pray for them too, as they still have so much ahead of them.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for updating the kolache possibilities. These really look wonderful.

So many stories are associated with the Czech Stop. Many great times included stopping there to consume the pastries.

Great minds think alike. My first thought was to make some kolaches. Then I found out that one of those killed in the secondary explosion was a friend. Not a good day.

Pete

Nicole said...

These look wonderful! When can we expect your next book?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Mike--I believe I've read that article--it was very interesting and informative.

Kimberly--Those pies must have been much appreciated.

Pilar Hernandez--What a thoughtful friend!

Jasmine--It's a wonderful thing how food connects us all.

DessertForTwo--I bet kolaches made excellent study food.

Julie--It is so heartbreaking.

Heather--It's amazing how many people have been touched by this little Texas town

Ted--You're welcome.

Lynda--Isn't it odd how few people outside Texas know about kolaches? They're missing out.

Mary Kay--Thank you. And yes, when it comes to sausage kolaches, I know...I know...!

Ellijay--It's pretty amazing how they've managed to hold onto their heritage.

Melissa--Yes, I'm old enough that I remember when West was one of the few places you could find kolaches. It's great that they're now all over the state.

Kay--If you like strawberries, you'll enjoy it.

Nicolle--It's such a tragedy.

Deb--Baking can indeed be very therapeutic. I know it helps me feel better.

Valerie--Do they have a place selling kolaches in the DC area yet?

Shelley--I know. It's nuts.



Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Caleb--Yes it will. When you go to the dough post, it will tell you what to do.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Katrina--I'm biased, but yes they are.

Angela--I bet the people of Albuquerque would love kolaches.

Aislinn--I like that idea.

Abbe--Isn't it interesting how kolaches in Houston are so different?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Lisa--Yes. When you go to the dough post you'll see instructions.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

M--It's a terrific shop and the kolaches are wonderful.

Janna--They have them in Iowa? I didn't know that!

Debbie--I'm sorry to hear the recipe was lost. Hopefully someday you can recreate it.

John--Isn't Brooklyn Kolache terrific?

K. Marie--Yes, the sausages are equally delicious.

Pete--I'm so, so sorry for your loss.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Nicole--My next book should be coming out in spring 2014.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

My heart aches for those people. I heard this morning about one firefighter whose friend drove him to the fire. He told him to turn around and drive away as fast and as far as he could. So this brave soul knew exactly what he was getting into. It's such a testament to the human spirit....

Jack Timmons said...

I'm so making these for my next BBQ smack down in Seattle, this one with Daniel Vaughn launching his new book. Yay! http://sbx5.eventbrite.com

Anonymous said...

These look wonderful. Is there a simple way to modify this recipe to make savory kolaches, e.g. with sausage, or is that a different recipe altogether? - Bill.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Rocky Mountain Woman--It is indeed.

Jack--I sure wish I could be there!

Bill--When you click on the dough recipe you'll see instructions on how to make savory ones.

michelle k said...

This Texan just discovered your blog and Facebook page yesterday. Took me about 30 seconds to head over to Amazon and order your book for my mom and MIL for Mother's Day. Love love love everything I see here. Thanks for representing TX in such an awesome way! Can't wait to get the recipe books in the mail tomorrow!!

Michelle

PS I never comment on ANYTHING... that's how good you are! :)

Jarome said...

Thanks for this post Lisa, such a great tribute for the people of the west.

Anonymous said...

After a year of discovering your first Kolache recipe I finally decided to give it a try. They were awesome! I used raspberries instead and also made some with sausage and cheese. I used a stand mixer with a dough hook for about 8-10 min on low and scaled my dough to about 1 1/2 ounces! Thanks so much for sharing! .. Rosa

Allyson said...

The moment I saw a recipe for kolaches I thought of West. Living in Waco and having friends in West, this disaster was and is very real and present to us. This is such a lovely little tribute and the kolaches look great!

Lisa said...

How did I miss this recipe? I even have your cookbook! My Mother grew up in Waco and gave me my love of fruit Kolaches too. Being homesick in the SF Bay, they have "pastries" but no Kolaches. I cannot wait to try this. I'm missing your posts but am looking forward to your new cookbook!

lindseyFrenzy said...

I read your March 07 post about the Czech Stop (which I had visited once) about one year ago, and that's the first time I realized that kolaches were Texas specific in America, and henceforth learned about the Czech settling here which made that so.

I'm one of those people who have so much Texas pride that it's annoying, and because of you, I get the satisfaction of informing my friends that kolaches are Texan all the time, and I LOVE it!

I'm from Orange, Tx and live in Houston now for my fourth year after graduating from UofH. I'm 24 and would just like to say thank you so much for your inspiration, encouragement, and newfound glory I continue to find daily in this beautiful city. Much love and thanks from a South East Texan!

Anonymous said...

Ohhh, let's not forget the Kolache festival in Caldwell every summer, I miss Texas.

Liz said...

I began making kolaches from your original recipe post - last Fall/early Winter. I found the recipe as a "gift" for a neighbor whose mother made them although we finally discovered she used a recipe out of an old Betty Crocker cookbook.

At any rate, I fell in love with the kolache dough (your recipe!) - it is a beautiful dough to work with and it freezes wonderfully. I keep frozen biscuit size pieces and can easily thaw and bake kolaches as well as other sweet rolls from the dough. I like it much better than a flaky pastry - it has a perfect amount of sweet and now matter what kind of sweet roll I make, I add a bit of posypka.

When I read of the West explosion, I was not only horrified as anyone would be but I suppose I felt another connection as I knew from your post it was the place for kolaches.

Such a lot of heartbreak this year.

Margge said...

About to put a batch of these in my oven and the time can't pass quickly enough!! Hope they are as delicious as I'm imagining them to be :)

Anonymous said...

Your kolache recipes gave me the courage to make them for the first time myself, two years ago. It's now my spring/Easter tradition. I'm making them tomorrow in remembrance of the one-year anniversary of the tragedy in West. God bless them all.

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