Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Christmas Kolaches

You know how some traditions feel Christmas-y, even though they’re not necessarily your own Christmas traditions? I felt that way about the gingerbread kiss cookies that I made with the Little Prince before the holidays. It turns out I pretty much only like kiss cookies when they are still somewhat warm from the oven, because after several hours, the chocolate gets hard again and then I find that they get awkward to eat. Thankfully I had made a half batch (using half a flax egg instead of the unattainable half-an-egg) with dark chocolate kisses, but still, 24 was too many at one time.

Right before we left for Montreal, I made kolaches for breakfast. I’m not very familiar with kolaches, as they are not part of my traditions, and the ones I encounter most often here in South Texas are bastardized sausage kolaches. These are closer to the original fruit pastries – the dough itself isn’t sweet and could be a great roll, and I used jam to fill the center. I used what I had on hand, which was strawberry jam and orange marmalade, but I think these would be especially good with raspberry jam and apricot jam.

Note that I’m including a picture of the unbaked kolaches because I’d actually make them differently next time. I made them a bit too big – they do get much plumper in the oven! A golf-sized amount of dough is probably the right amount for each, but I was having trouble reconciling that with a 3”-wide, 1”-thick disc and I overdid it. I would also make the indentation deeper so that the jam doesn’t run off as much. The recipe should make about 16 kolaches in all.

1 packet active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. warm water
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup lactose-free whole milk
4 Tbsp. cold lactose-free butter
½ tsp. fine salt
3 ½ to 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup jam (see note above)

Stir the yeast, water, and sugar together in a large bowl. Let stand until yeast is bubbly, about 5 minutes.

Bring the milk just to a boil in a small pot over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the butter to cool. Pour over yeast mixture and add the salt.

Add 2 cups of flour, stirring well, then stir in the egg. Stir in an additional 1 ½ cups flour, using your hands to finish bringing the dough together as needed. Knead, adding up to remaining ¼ cup additional flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and bounces back slightly when pressed on with a finger, about 5 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Grease a baking sheet and set aside (I used a silpat). Break off 1 golf ball-sized piece of dough at a time and shape each into a 3-inch-wide, 1-inch-thick circle (see note above). Place onto the prepared baking sheet and let rise for 20 minutes.

Using a finger, press a wide (and deeper than in the pictures) well in the center of each dough round. Fill each round with 1 teaspoon of jam. Let rise while arranging a rack in the middle of the oven and preheating it to 350 °F.

Bake until just lightly browned, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, cool, and serve.

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