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Since I skipped the last two Daring Bakers Challenge’s I was determined to get back in the swing this month. The September challenge was hosted by Lucie of Chez Lucie and she chose a traditional Czech pastry called Kolache. We were given thee different versions to try: Pražský koláč (Prague Kolach), Chodské koláče (Kolache from Chodsko), and   Dvojctihodné/Moravské koláče (Two Fillings/Moravian Kolaches) .   According to Wikipedia, Montgomery, Minnesota is the kolacky capital of the world. Who knew?? Maybe because they are so tasty….

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I made the Prague Kolache two weeks ago for a dinner we had with friends. I really was incredibly simple to put together and was light and delicious. When people ask for seconds I know it’s a winner. I could have eaten the whole thing myself. It’s essentially a large, round bread filled with a lightened pastry crème. For mine I chose to make a homemade butterscotch pudding for a little added flavor but the original calls for a simple custard. Do what floats your boat (or what you have on hand).

The Moravian Kolaches are little pillows of dough filled with a lightly sweetened quark and topped with a fruit jam.   Since I didn’t have any quark I used sour cream that I strained for 24 hours to thicken it. Again, make it work for you. I cheated on the third version by using some of the leftover dough and filling from the morovian version (see the  photo above). Please stop by Lucies blog to see her great step by step photos of all three versions.

 

 

While I really liked every version, the Prague version was hands down the winner, both for flavor and ease of preparation. Please try them and get back to me which was your favorite. Bake on!

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Ingredients
for cake:
1¾ cups (420 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
½ cup (120 ml) (125 gm) mayonnaise (store-bought or home-made), room temperature (yes, mayonnaise)

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz) (30 gm) granulated sugar
1 small egg, room temperature
15 gm (½ oz) fresh yeast or 1 packet (2 teaspoons) (7gm) dry active yeast
5 tablespoons (75 ml) milk, warm
½ teaspoon (3 gm) salt
for the pastry cream:
2 cups (500 ml) milk, divided
½ cup (120 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon (½ oz) (15 gm)vanilla sugar
½ cup (120 ml) (2-2/3 oz) (75 gm) vanilla pastry cream powder (such as Birds)
1 stick (½ cup) (4 oz) (125 gm) butter, room temperature
5 tablespoons (75 ml) heavy whipping cream, chilled
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
½ teaspoon (2 gm) ground cinnamon
for finishing:
1 small egg, lightly beaten

Directions:
In a bowl of your stand mixer, sift flour and make a hole in the middle. Crumble the yeast into the hole, add 1 teaspoon sugar and about 3 teaspoons warm milk. Mix yeast, sugar and milk with fork and lightly sprinkle the surface with flour. Cover the bowl with towel and let rise for 10-15 minutes. Add rest ingredients (mayonnaise, sugar, milk, egg and salt) and knead with dough hook on low speed for 10 minutes, until you have smooth dough. If you are using instant yeast, it is okay to place everything into the bowl at once.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cover with towel or plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour to double in volume. Form the dough into a ball and place it onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With your palms and fingers press the dough and shape it to disc about 20–25 cm (8-10 inch) in diameter and 2–3 cm (¾-1 inch)thick. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat your oven to moderate 320°F/160°C/gas mark 3 .

Make the streusel topping. In a medium bowl, mix together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add cold butter and with your fingers, mix all ingredients until crumbly. Brush the cake with the beaten egg and sprinkle with generous amount of streusel topping. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.DSC_1517

 

Prepare the pastry cream.
In a small bowl, mix well ½ cup (125ml) milk with the vanilla pastry cream powder. Set aside. In a saucepan, mix the rest of the milk 1½ cup (375ml) with the sugar and vanilla sugar and bring it to boil, stir occasionally. Add the milk-pasty cream powder mixture and boil for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Transfer the mixture into a bowl of your standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment and let cool completely, while stirring constantly on a low speed. Add diced butter and mix together.
Separately whip the double cream until stiff. Mix with vanilla cream.

Don’t be ashamed to use boxed vanilla pudding!

Cut cooled cake lengthwise and spread the cream onto the bottom part. Cover with upper part. Cut into 8 to 10 pieces

 

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MORAVIAN KOLACHES

Servings: about 30 small or 10 large kolaches 

 

Ingredients
for dough
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 fillingDSC_1541
3 cups (1-2/3 lb) (750 gm) quark
1 small egg yolk
confectioner’s (icing) sugar to taste
for plum 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

for finishing
1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:
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. (Skip this if you are using instant yeast. I used SAF Gold. Everything goes in the bowl together)
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.

Prepare quark filling – just mix all ingredientsDSC_1540

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. Alternately,  in a saucepan melt the butter, add flour and sugar at once and mix with fork until crumbly. Set aside.

 

When the dough is 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). Flatten each piece with your hands and fill with about 1 rounded teaspoon of  quark filling. Wrap it into a “purse” shape and pinch all the seams to seal.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 to make an indent. Brush it with egg wash and fill holes with plum filling. Sprinkle it with streusel topping. Bake for about 20 minutes to golden brown.

Sept 14, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
All kolaches are best the first and second day but you can store them in an airtight container in a fridge up to 3 (Prague kolach) or 5 (Chodske and Double filling kolaches) days. You can also freeze Prague kolaches WITHOUT filling in a freezer for one month.

Additional Information:
Some additional recipes, in Czech:
http://dolcevita.blog.cz/0707/grandiozni-ceske-kolace
http://dulique.blogspot.cz/2010/01/sweettoothday-prazsky-kolac.html
http://www.svasniprojidlo.cz/2014/05/prazsky-kolac.html
http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/porady/10084897100-kluci-v-akci/206562221900…

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This months Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Since I missed last months Baker’s Challenge I had no intention of  missing another month.Every month brings an unexpected treat, and this month is no different – Doughnuts. Now, I must say, I have never made doughnuts before. They seemed like too much trouble, but, living in a world where so much food is filled with preservatives and artificial flavors, don’t we deserve to take the time and treat ourselves? And as it turns out ,they are really quite easy to make, it just  takes a little patience.

There are two main types of doughnuts, yeast and cake.  Obviously yeast doughnuts take longer to make but produce a lighter, fluffier result though cake doughnuts are just as tasty. Seriously, is there anything about a doughnut not to like? If anything, I never eat them because I cannot stop at just one! My choice for this challenge is Paczki (pronounced punch-key). It a fruit filled doughnut. In Poland they are made for Fat Thursday, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. In the States, they are made the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, known as Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. Traditionally, this was a way to use up perishable items (eggs/cream/butter) right before Lent. Don’t you just love the story behind food? I don’t know about you, but I find it so interesting to know what I am eating.

This recipe comes from A Baker’s Odessey by Greg Patent. It is made with a sponge, then enriched with egg yolks, sugar, sour cream and a bit of brandy, which helps retard the gluten development slightly. The filling must be thick enough to hold its shape. The book recommends Krakus Multifruit Powidla, but after going to a Polish deli, a Hungarian deli, and a German deli, I could not find it so I am using a plum butter (powidla sliwkowe) in half of the recipe and some thick homemade cherry preserves in the other half.

“These are best eaten within a few hours of being made”. Well, I guess they will be dessert as opposed to breakfast, unless I get up at 3am. I hear you can freeze doughnuts and reheat them with success. We’ll see….
Okay- here is an update since writing that. I have made a ton of doughnuts in the past 2 weeks and yes, I have frozen all of the leftovers and just thawed them on the counter for about an hour. They tasted great and the texture was still light and airy. So, bake away my friends….

PACZKI

Sponge

1 C (8oz) whole milk
1 1/2 C (6.61 oz, 187.5 g)unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons  instant yeast (or 2 Tbls active dry yeast)
1 large egg, at room temperature

Scald the milk in a heavy saucepan oer medium heat (or carefully in a microwave). Remove from the heat and let the milk cool until it is between 120-130F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, milk and egg to make a thick batter. Bang any remaining batter off the whisk, scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temp until it is very bubbly and has more than doubled in volume and collapsed back on itself, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

The sponge, eggs, zest,folding, and filling

Dough

6 Tbls (3 oz, 85 g) unsalted butter
1/2 C granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
3 Tbls brandy or rum (I am using Calvados, a french apple brandy)
1/2 C sour cream
1 tsp salt
3 1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

About 1/4 c to 1/2 c thick fruit preserves
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
confectioners sugar for dusting

Put the butter and sugar into your mixing bowl, attach the flat beater, and beat on low-speed, then medium speed until it is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl and the beater. Beat in the egg yolks, 2 at a time, beating for about 1 minute in between each addition. Beat in the orange zest. Add the sponge, brandy, sour cream, and salt and beat on low-speed until smooth. Beat in 2 cups flour, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl and the beater, and switch to the dough hook. Add 1 cup more flour and knead it in on low-speed, then increase the speed to medium and knead for 3 more minutes. The dough will be soft, sticky, and wet.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 c flour on your work surface and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough until all the flour has been incorporated. The dough should feel fairly soft and be a bit tacky. If it is too sticky, knead in up to 1/4 c more flour- but just a little at a time- the softer the dough, the lighter the doughnut.
Lightly oil or spray a bowl and place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides. Cover tightly and let it rest at room temp until doubled in size (about an hour). Mine took almost 1 1/2 hours since it is cool in my house.
Turn the dough out onto a unfloured work surface and pat it into a rectangle about 15 x 12 inches (I just did mine by eye).Fold it in thirds, like a business letter, then pat it gently to extend it the long way to about 15 inches (mine was already that since I did it by eye- I guess my eyes aren’t so good). Fold it again in thirds to make a package (remember making puff pastry?) Place it back in the bowl, seam side down and let rise at room temp until doubled, about 1 hour.
To shape the Paczki, line 2 large baking sheets with parchment and lightly sift a small amount of flour over them.Roll the dough out on a unfloured surface to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. With a sharp 2 3/4 or 3 inch cutter, stamp out circles of dough. Gather any scraps and set them aside, covered with a kitchen towel.
Make a shallow depression in the center with your finger and put in 1/2 to 1 tsp of the jam in the depression. Pick up the circle of dough and pull the edges up and around the filling, pinching them together firmly to seal in the filling. Place them seam side down on the prepared baking sheets. Reroll any scraps and make some more as above. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise for about 45 minutes. They will be puffy and almost doubled in size.

Plum filling

Meanwhile, pour 3 inches of oil into a large heavy pot and attach a deep fry thermometer to the side of the pot(if you have one- I don’t). Heat the oil oer medium heat until it reaches 365-370 F. Line two large baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Since I don’t have a deep fry thermometer I just use a cube of bread to test the temp. If it browns in about 60 seconds then it’s ready. If your oil is too hot, it will brown the outside too quickly and not cook the inside, but, if it’s not hot enough it will make your doughnuts greasy. So, in other words, keep on eye on your oil temperature.
To fry your Paczki, slip them one at a time into the oil, adding only 3 or 4 paczki at a time. Cook for about 90 seconds then flip them over and cook for about another 90 seconds, or they are a beautiful mahogany brown. Left them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and place on the paper towels. Repeat until all of the paczki are cooked. While they are still hot, strain some confectioners sugar oer them. They are best served within a few hours, but you can freeze any leftovers with good results.

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