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Kolaches for the New Year

We do not go for the New Year Tradition foods at our house. There will be no black-eyed peas, pork and sauerkraut, lentils, grapes, greens… We seem to have amazingly good luck without them, so why ask for more?!? We’ll send our share off to folks who really do need it! Tonight’s dinner is probably going to be a Sicilian Pollo Agrodolce – a sweet and sour braised chicken. I wouldn’t mind spending New Year’s in the Mediterranean… Maybe next year…

But I digress…

I do like to make a sweet roll of sorts on the major holidays and thought that I’d make Kolaches for Christmas Morning. Alas, I didn’t have any cream cheese in the house – huh?!? – and wasn’t going to be one of those people out shopping. I made Cinnamon Rolls, instead, and planned the Kolaches for New Year’s Day!

I wanted them ready early, so I made the dough last night, let it rise for an hour, and then formed the balls and placed the sheet pans in the ‘fridge overnight. I think I would have been better off making them from scratch this morning – they really did take a long time to come up to temperature – but the end result was perfection! They really came out good.

I hesitate to say something is really easy because easiness is pretty subjective – but these are not complicated by any means, and I think anyone really could make them! The original recipe comes from Cooks Country/America’s Test Kitchen. While I find that they can often complicate the hell out of simple things, this time they didn’t!

Kolaches

adapted from Cooks Country

INGREDIENTS

DOUGH

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
  • 3 1/2 cups (17 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (2 ounces) sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

CHEESE FILLING

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese

STREUSEL

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and chilled
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk (for glaze)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. FOR THE DOUGH: Grease large bowl. Whisk milk, melted butter, and egg and yolks together in 2-cup liquid measuring cup (butter will form clumps). Whisk flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Fit stand mixer with dough hook, add milk mixture to flour mixture, and knead on low speed until no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough clears sides of bowl but still sticks to bottom, 8 to 12 minutes.

2. Transfer dough to greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Place dough on lower-middle rack and place loaf pan on bottom of oven. Pour 3 cups boiling water into loaf pan, close oven door, and let dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. FOR THE CHEESE FILLING: Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, and lemon zest on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add ricotta and beat until just combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until ready to use.

4. FOR THE STREUSEL: Combine flour, sugar, and butter in bowl and rub between fingers until mixture resembles wet sand. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.

5. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down dough and place on lightly floured counter. Divide into quarters and cut each quarter into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into rough ball by pulling dough edges underneath so top is smooth. On unfloured counter, cup each ball in your palm and roll into smooth, tight ball. Arrange 8 balls on each prepared sheet and cover loosely with plastic. Place sheets on oven racks. Replace water in loaf pan with 3 cups boiling water, close oven door, and let dough rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.

6. Remove sheets and loaf pan from oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bottom of 1/3-cup measure (or 2 1/4-inch-diameter drinking glass). Make deep indentation in center of each dough ball by slowly pressing until cup touches sheet. (Perimeter of balls may deflate slightly.)

7. Gently brush kolaches all over with egg-milk mixture. Divide filling evenly among kolaches (about 1½ tablespoons per kolache) and smooth with back of spoon. Sprinkle streusel over kolaches, avoiding filling. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let kolaches cool on pans for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

I proofed my yeast in the milk because I never have rapid rise/instant yeast, but otherwise followed the recipe pretty closely.

I highly recommend making them soon!

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