Monday, October 24, 2011

Czech Farmer’s Cheese Pie - Kolaches

Tvarohové Koláče
Last week I have decided to make one of the most popular and traditional pastry in Czech kitchen, Kolache or Wedding Pie (every Czech wedding has variety of these delights). It is traditionally made round, about  4” in diameter and around one inch thick using sweet yeast dough and topped with variety of toppings like ground poppy seeds, prune jam and most popular of all, creamed farmer’s cheese. If farmer’s cheese is not available, dry ricotta or paneer are great substitute. I have a recipe here for homemade paneer. I prefer to raise the yeast dough in a refrigerator overnight, it has a much finer texture when baked. Also, I always use food processor with steel cutting blade to make any dough, especially pizza dough, so instruction will reflect this. It is the fastest method with great results and with minimal clean-up. I know that in baking measurements are taken very seriously but since I didn’t find any recipe that looked like what my mother made I just came up with my very own version and it worked fantastic on first try!
Note: You can use just plain bread flour or even all-purpose flour, I guess, but I have not tried it so I have no idea how light the kolache will be.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cup bread or hard flour
1 envelope instant yeast or 1-1/4 tsp. dry instant yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1 egg
2 Tbs. melted butter
2/3 cup warm milk (more or less, depending on moisture content of the flour)

Place flour, yeast, salt and sugar in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade and pulse few times until well combined. Add egg (no need to separate the egg) and turn on for about 10 seconds. Add melted butter and process for another 10 seconds. The flour will look grainy. Turn processor on and pour in 1/2 cup of milk. After 15 seconds or so start adding additional milk 1 Tbs. at the time until the dough starts to come together. When it forms a ball the dough is done. Remove the dough from work bowl, form it into a smooth ball and place in lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator overnight. 

Cheese Topping
250 grams Farmer’s cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins soaked in warm milk
1/4 cup sour cream or 2 Tbs. 35% cream
With electric hand mixer or wooden spool beat the cheese with egg, sugar, cream, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Do not over mix, leave some farmers cheese lumps intact. Mix in raisins, cover and set aside.

Four hours before baking remove dough from the fridge. Roll the dough into a log shape about 2-1/2” diameter and then cut pieces about the same length. Roll the pieces into a ball, flatten them to finger thick disk with higher rim, place them on oiled baking sheet, cover and keep in draft-free and warm place till they raise a bit, about 1 hour. Brush the edges with melted butter, spread the filling on top of kolaches to within 1/2” of the edge and sprinkle with shaved almonds. Place in 400 °F preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool on wire rack, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve still warm.

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