To start with, any knowledgeable Czech can confirm that there is no such thing as a sausage kolache. A piece of sausage covered in soft bready dough is called klobasniky. Using a small piece of sausage that is basically the size of a cocktail wiener is completely unacceptable. A klobasniky needs at least a two inch piece of a regular size sausage link split lengthwise. Fortunately, there are almost as many sausage alternatives in the area as there are kolaches.
I discovered that there are in fact a number of different styles of kolache and the characteristics of the dough seem to vary widely. Some kolache dough seemed to be more like a danish while others had a yellow cake-like quality. We’ve traveled to kolache festivals and found that the pastries had every fruit filling imaginable including the traditional prune or poppy seed. Just about any type of filing that can be used in a pie is fair game for kolaches. Our favorite commercially made kolaches are found at either Praske’s or Hruska’s, but nothing can beat homemade. The favorite kolache dough for Al’s family is light bready dough with only a hint of sweetness.
When Al first shared his mother’s kolache recipe, I will admit that I saw it as an opportunity to quickly impress my new beau. It turned out to be quite a journey. The recipe was little more than a simple list of ingredients. As any baker will tell you, that is not sufficient information to recreate a cross between bread and pastry in a way that would live up to childhood memories. Like a mad scientist creating potions in a lab, I put my degree in chemistry to good use as I embarked on a number of experiments to perfect my ability to make this family favorite.