A few years ago when I first moved to Bedstuy, I was out one morning exploring my new neighborhood in search for a cup of coffee and a nice place to read. I stumbled upon a little café called Brooklyn Kolache. At the time, I didn’t even know if I was pronouncing the word Kolache correctly, let alone knew what it meant, but the place looked inviting and so I took a chance.
The space is quaint with an open and bright room in back with tables and a little patio, which in the summer is a perfect place to hang. They have a full espresso menu featuring local coffee, house-made chai and amazing breakfast tacos – all in all, the place is a great spot for any Sunday morning. But as the name would suggest their pride and joy (rightly so) are their Kolaches.
A kolache which I’ve come to know and love are eastern European pastries that are usually made of a rounded sweetened yeast dough that is filled with a sweet filling. They’re pronounced ‘Ko-La-cheese,’ coming from the Slavonic word for wheel (kolo) and most often associated with Czech cooking traditions.
While this was the first time I was exposed to these heavenly pastries, they’re quite popular in Texas where the influx of Czech immigrants made kolaches a staple of their cuisine.
Autumn, a Texan native and transplant to Brooklyn, grew up with kolaches in Austin and wanted to share them with the community, filling a need I don’t even think we knew we had! Along with her business partner, they opened the store in part through funds raised on kickstarter in 2012.
Brooklyn Kolache serves both sweet and savory kolaches with such combinations as blueberry and sweet cheese, lemon curd, poppy seed, and bacon, egg and cheese, Jalapeno Cheese & Smoked Beef Sausage respectively among others. I’m a fan of the sweet kolaches which are so fluffy and soft with great flavor.
After having sampled many a Brooklyn Kolache, I wanted to try my hand at making my own. Mine were a valiant effort – not as pillowy and large as my Bedstuy neighbor’s, but sweet and delicious nonetheless.
The process is a bit intensive as it is with making any pastry from scratch but the efforts are well worth it!
I chose to make a variety of flavors — blueberry, strawberry and the classic sweet cheese. The sweet cheese is comprised of ricotta and cream cheese and it might have actually been my favorite of the three. I added a little to the fruit mixtures to some as well which made for a great pairing as well.
While making homemade kolaches was a great experience (and one I’ll definitely try again as I love baking pastries!), I’m also glad Brooklyn Kolache is only a few blocks away for when the mood strikes and I just need to get my hands on one! It’s a great staple of my Bedstuy neighborhood and I’m glad Autumn and co. brought such a beloved favorite to our community!
Mmmmm, kolaches… the pastry you never knew you needed in your life… until now!
- 1 cup whole milk
- 10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2¼ tsp instant yeast
- 1½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup cream cheese, softened
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp grated lemon zest
- ¾ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 8 oz. fresh blueberries
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 8 oz strawberries
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp flour
- 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tsbp milk
- FOR THE DOUGH: Whisk milk, melted butter, egg and yolks together in a small bowl. Whisk flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk mixture to flour mixture and knead 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- FOR THE BLUEBERRY FILLING: Combine blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and mash blueberries with a spoon until chunky. Let cool.
- FOR THE STRAWBERRY FILLING: Combine strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove sheets and loaf pan from oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bottom of ⅓-cup measure (or 2¼-inch-diameter drinking glass). Make deep indentation in center of each dough ball by slowly pressing until cup touches sheet.
- 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.