This is a return-to-the-fold post for me. Several years ago, when I was starting out in the blogging community and did not know how to 'meet' people there, I subscribed to a couple of groups on
Bakers and Cooks. The idea appealed to me. It was like a secret society, but one where everyone was supportive and we all got a learn a ton through the monthly challenges.
I have to say my learning curve jumped by leaps and bounds after colluding with these guys for a few years. I also met some amazing bloggers through the platform, who continue to be inspirations today. As is inevitable with such groups, one by one, we split away and went our own ways and stopped partaking in the monthly rush of making something new, posting about it and more fun, checking out what everyone else had done with the challenge. I remember in those days, I would bookmark a few hours of the last saturday of every month, for blog-hopping and marveling at the latest creative twist or imaginative styling.
I remember how
pastries were always visually stunning and perfect. That is what I aimed for. I remember
being the most loyal member and always helping everyone in the group.
stories were always enthralling and
fresh, clean styling was something to hanker after. My own technical curve angled rather high both in repertoire of dishes as well as in photography. Over the years, I have had some great successes, humbling
and original sparks (like
). Most of all, it was incredible fun and a strong sense of belonging. We discussed in hush whispers on private chats and mails. It was all too frat-like to not love.
My last post on a Daring Bakers challenge was
! I left because I was back working full time and I simply could not find the luxury of time to post on a regimen. I also felt that I was then ready to take flight and do something else.
Over the last year, I have been thinking about the group, off and on and debated re-joining them. I would distractedly check the challenges and not many inspired me. Also, pretty much everyone I knew before had left. But, last week when I checked in again, the recipe inspired me despite the fact that it involved gluten. It was a czech yeasted bread recipe that promised yummy tea treats. I love learning a new regional dish and this one spoke to me. So, I decided it was time to come back.
Also, my inner guilt pulled at me particularly hard. I felt I had forsaken the community and left when it was convenient. I cannot be sufficiently grateful to the founders for keeping up the amazing work and for teaching me so much in the time I was more regular.
Anyway, with that I leave you with the bake of the month. The September Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Lucie from
. She challenged us to make a true Czech treat –
! Dvojctihodné or double filled Koláče was my chosen bake to show case. I chose them because they are small and cute and I have always loved cream filled pastries. And this came with the double allure of quark (a very traditional European cheese) and jam for a touch of more sweet.
As much as I am allergic to wheat, I could not help biting into the warm kolaches. They were a sincere delight! Soft and yielding as you would expect from a yeasted item (Oh! How I miss yeast!), just enough sweetness and perfect with a cup of warm tea in the nip of Fall!
I made a few changes to the recipe. I used durum wheat to make the dough and topped the pastry with a gluten free oat and almond crumble. Also, I simply used the jam I had in my fridge and it wasn't plum. But, well, as you can guess, that is obviously up to you. The biggest modification I made was in the quark filling. The quark I found by me (for being a peasant cheese in Europe, it is awfully dear here to buy!) was a too runny to use as filling even after sweetening with powdered sugar. So I added a teaspoon each of psyllium husk and potato starch and refrigerated for 45 minutes. It came out set a bit and more workable as a filling.
With that, I hope you enjoy my take on the Czech Kolach and below is the recipe with the original streusel topping. If you want the one for the gluten free crumble, leave me a note in the comments and I'll add it. Please do check out what
Moravské Koláče (Moravian Koláče)
3-2/3 cup (880 ml) (17-2/3 oz) (500 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour (use semi-coarse grounded if you can find in your store)
¾ cup (180 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) milk, warm
1/3 cup (80 ml) (2-2/3 oz) (75 gm) butter, melted
30 gm (1 oz) fresh yeast or 2 packets (4 teaspoons) (½ oz) (15 gm) active day yeast
pinch of salt
2 small egg yolks
for quark filling
3 cups (1-2/3 lb) (750 gm) quark
1 small egg yolk
confectioner’s (icing) sugar to taste
For Jam filling:
2/3 cup (160 ml) (7 oz) (200 gm) plum jam
rum or hot water to soften jam if too thick
For Streusel topping:
1/3 cup (1¾ oz) (50 gm) plain flour
¼ cup (60 ml) (1¾ oz) (50 gm) butter, chilled and diced
¼ cup (60 ml) (1¾ oz) (50 gm) caster (or granulated) sugar
(in fact I don’t know the exact amount I used because I always make larger batch and store it in the freezer)
3 T melted butter or eggwash
In a bowl mix together yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Add 4 tablespoons (¼ cup) warm milk, mix well and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 – 15 minutes.
In a bowl of your electric mixer (or in a large bowl) mix flour, sugar, salt, egg yolks, butter, milk and leavened yeast. Knead with dough hook (or with wooden spoon) on low speed for about 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about one hour to double its volume.
Meanwhile prepare quark filling – just mix all ingredients – and plum filling – mix plum jam with rum or water to soften it. Set aside.
Prepare streusel topping. In a medium bowl, mix together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add cold butter diced in small cubes and with your fingers, mix all ingredients until crumbly.
When the dough has risen, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and roll it with rolling pin to a thickness of about 2 cm (¾ inch). Cut with 10cm (4 inch) cookie cutter or just with a glass (if you want small kolaches) or divide the dough into 10 equal pieces (if you want large kolaches). Splat each piece with your hands and fill with quark filling. Wrap it into a “purse” shape.
Preheat oven to moderate 340°F/170°C/gas mark 3.
Line 2 – 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Put each kolach onto a prepared baking sheet with seam down. Press each kolach in the middle as you can see on the picture below. Brush it with egg wash and fill holes with plum filling. Sprinkle it with streusel topping.
Bake for about 20 minutes to golden brown. Cool on rack for a few minutes and eat warm.
Kolaches are best eaten within two days on baking.