český kolac | tvaroh

My grandma on my dad’s side would always make the blueberry version, but on visits to Czech Republic growing up, I got to try as many different kinds as I was allowed: rum raisin, apple, plum, even chocolate/cherry.

Start by mixing yeast and flour together in a large mixing bowl or bowl of your stand mixer.

Measure out milk, sugar, and pinch of salt into microwaveable bowl, and heat just enough to get most of the sugar to dissolve. This way, everything gets more easily incorporated throughout the dough.

Add canola oil and egg yolks. Sorry not sorry for including photo below, I always think it looks super cool. Look away if you don’t like bubbles.

Mix dry and wet ingredients together.

Let everything mix together for 5-10 minutes in the stand mixer, or you could do this by hand. You want the ending ball of dough to have a slight sheen.

There you go! Now, scrape down the sides of the bowl, sprinkle a little flour over the top, cover (saran wrap or a cloth) and let rise in a nice warm spot. I usually use my window sill but it was pretty gloomy out today, so stuck it in a slightly warmed oven.

Let rise for 1.5-3 hours, times will vary depending on how warm your house is/how finicky the dough feels like being today. At the end point, the dough should at least have double in size, and you should be able to poke it and have it leave an indent.

boop

Turn out onto a well floured surface, and divide dough into two equal sections.

Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, it’ll be delicious either way.

Do the same with the other half of the dough, and set both aside.

Roll dough out into a circle (or a square if you are somewhat geometrically challenged with a rolling pin) and make sure the edges are pinched up and slightly higher than the rest of the dough. Set it aside, preferably on a baking sheet or a pizza pan, while you make your filling.

So, just to preface: farmer’s cheese is what you’re looking for at the grocery store. I went to my local ethnic foods grocery and picked up some Polish farmer’s cheese, pictured below. The texture is similar to a (bear with me) really dry cottage cheese. Delicious, right? I promise it is. Think, rum cheesecake kind of style.

I threw it into google translate and it pulled up with either “cottage cheese” or “curd”. Lifeway seems to make pretty good products in this kind of line.

All ingredients you need for the filling: egg yolks, farmer’s cheese (tvaroh), lemon zest, butter, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, rum soaked raisins.

I apologize for the quality of these. I *gasp* forgot about my dough and ran around doing other things, and by the time I finished making these it was about 8 pm. Not really good light for aesthetically pleasing photos!

Mix ingredients for tvaroh filling while you heat up 1/2 stick of butter on the stove until it bubbles. Add a couple tbsp of rum. Stand there and wait for everybody in the house to wander up to the kitchen because it smells amazing.

While everything is slowly coming together, roll up your sleeves and get working on the streusel topping.

This is the part that probably takes the longest, but it’s worth it. You’re going to think, “Sandra, this is too much. This is ridiculous,” and to that I will say, there is no such thing as too much posipka (streusel topping). Measurements on this are tricky, as you want to keep mixing in powdered sugar and flour until the above mixture (clumps easily, sticks to a fork) turns into something that most resembles sand.

Perfect!

Time to assemble!

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spread half the tvaroh mixture onto one of your pastries, make sure it’s even. Sprinkle (liberally) with posipka.

pay no attention to the mess that is my kitchen

Take a pastry brush (or spoon) and sprinkle melted butter/rum mixture onto the entire pastry. Afterwards, into the oven it goes!

Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on your oven. I tend to judge by the edges and bottom of the pastry browning slightly and the top looking golden.

Grab your butter/rum mixture and brush edges of kolac, and sprinkle it once more over the top.

Let cool for ~20 minutes, and dig in!

Best served warm, fresh from the oven, with a good cup of strong coffee.

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