Who knew there was such a variety when it came to kolache? Also called kolachy (and about a dozen other names), I first encountered these small, sugary cookies with either fruit or cheese poking out the open ends at a Polish restaurant. But when I went hunting for a recipe online, page after page of recipes and images popped up. Kolache was a sweet dough stuffed with fillings like poppy seeds or apricots. No, kolache was a yeasted dough with a jam-like filling on the outside. Still others declared that kolache could be any type of bread stuffed with something inside.
I was stumped. Instead of continuing my search online, I called an expert source: the Kolache Kitchen, located west of Flint at 107 W. Mason St. in Owosso, Michigan. Luckily, Robert Styczen answered. His wife, Cathy Winkler, owns the bakery and traces her roots to the Czech Republic (kolache country). Kolache is a distinctly Eastern European treat, explained Styczen. He also pointed out that kolache usually refers to a sweet dough that has stuffing either tucked inside, or it’s "open-faced" with the stuffing on the outside. But there are countless different kinds kolache – and it seems each country has its own special way of making them.
Many of the recipes I encountered had a long list of directions to make the perfect kolache. Instead of sticking with those directions, I decided just to use the idea behind the cookie to craft kolache I could make quickly – and easily – with my kids. Enter piecrust.
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You can make your own piecrust – or even real kolache dough. But, again, my goal was something simple – so I just bought pre-made piecrusts. I used a pizza cutter to make strips that I then cut into squares. My 9-year-old added a pocket of jam before folding two opposite sides over on one another to make an open cookie.
These treats may not be authentic (or taste that way!), but for a fun afternoon making sweets that are dressy enough to hand out as a teacher’s holiday gift, these are pretty good cookies.