I went to school at Baylor University, located in Waco, Texas, which is almost exactly dead center between Dallas and Austin. About thirty minutes north of Waco is a really cool little town called West. You used to have to explain the concept to people. No it’s not west Texas, it’s West comma Texas. It’s the name of the town, see? For very unfortunate and tragic reasons, this concept will not have to be explained again for a very long time. Now everyone in the US knows exactly where West is.
Of course I’m referring to the fertilizer plant explosion that recently occurred there, causing so much heartbreak and devastation. If you ever lived in the general vicinity of central Texas, you are very familiar with West. The town was settled by Czech immigrants, and they have made their delicious culinary traditions well known to central Texans. I used to love stopping at some of the little bakeries in West on my way out of town when I lived in Waco.
That Czech community is perhaps best known for its kolaches (pronounced ko-lah-chays). Kolaches are delicious little pastries (not shoes you wear when it’s raining – MATT!!) that contain either sweet or savory fillings. The sweet varieties typically are either fruit filled or cream cheese filled. The cream cheeses were my favorite.
Today I’m very honored to be part of #BakeforWest, an initiative by food bloggers with Texas connections to do our small part in helping out in the explosion recovery efforts in West. I am so very saddened by the destruction befallen on such a wonderful little town. I stopped at one of their well-known bakeries, The Czech Stop, often, and I usually ordered a cream cheese kolache. So that’s what I am sharing today. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this horrible tragedy. I am also sharing a link that is accepting donations for recovery aid, and I would encourage you to give if you can. I know they could use your help in rebuilding such a wonderful community.
Other awesome food bloggers involved in #BakeforWest – be sure you check them out:
1 packet dry active yeast
1 cup whole milk, warmed
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading
12 tbs unsalted butter, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
CRUMBLE TOPPING: (also known as Posypka)
2 tbs flour
2 tbs granulated sugar
1 tbs unsalted butter
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 tbs flour
1 large egg yolk
½ tsp vanilla extract
First, make the pastry. In a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk, sugar, and 1 cup flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
Melt 8 tablespoons of butter. Whisk the butter with the eggs and salt. Add eggs to the yeast mixture and combine with a rubber spatula. Slowly add the remaining 2 cups flour, continuously stirring with the spatula. The dough will be soft and moist. Knead the dough with your hands for 10 minutes on a floured surface, adding more flour to your hands and the surface is the dough is getting unduly sticky (which it will, several times). When done kneading, place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 12 even-size pieces. Using your hands, roll the pieces into balls, then flatten into circles 3 inches wide in diameter. Place the circles on a greased baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise again for 30 minutes.
While the dough is rising, make the crumble topping and filling. For the CRUMBLE TOPPING, use a fork to mix together the flour, sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Keep mixing until the butter is completely worked into the flour and it resembles wet sand.
For the FILLING, use a handheld electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy. Add the flour, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat again until just combined.
Now assemble and bake the kolaches. After the second rising preheat your oven to 375 F. With your finger, gently make a wide indentation in the center of each circle (being careful not to flatten it too much) and fill with 1 tablespoon of filling. Sprinkle the crumble topping on top of the filling.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. While baking, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Brush the kolaches with the melted butter as soon as you remove them from the oven. Ideally, serve warm, but they really are still great at room temperature.