Classic Czech Kolaches are sweet pastries, with a buttery brioche dough, creamy cheese and fruit jam topping and finished with a sweet crumb. These Kolaches can be made with any fruit or a variety of fruit fillings.
What are Kolaches?
Kolaches or Kolache (pronounced “kuh-lah-cheez” or “kuh-lah-chee”, when singular) are Czech pastries made of a yeast dough and usually filled with fruit, and sometimes cheese. The name is derived from the word “kola” which translates to “wheels”, reflective of the round shape.
Most traditionally, Kolaches are filled with poppy seed, apricot, prune and a sweet-but-simple farmer’s cheese. Modern, adapted versions use cream cheese and a wide variety of fruit fillings.
There are several pastries with similar names. Polish Kolaczki are fruit and cream filled cookies, while in Texas, you’ll find Kolaches in a different shape and filled with meat and cheese.
Why you’ll love this Czech Kolache recipe!
- You can make these Kolaches with any fruit or a variety of fruit fillings.
- The simple, homemade jam filling recipes takes only a few minutes to make.
- These pastries aren’t hard to make, but they are so pretty and tasty. Exactly what you want from a sweet treat.
- Kolaches freeze well, too!
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Fruit (for Jam) – you can use practically any fruit you would make jam from. I’ve used peach here. Apricot, blueberry, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry are other good options. Make them all one flavour or make 2 or 3 fruit fillings, for a variety. As a short-cut, you could also use your favourite store-bought jam.
- Cream Cheese – I only use and recommend full-fat cream cheese, for the best flavour and texture. I haven’t tested these with low or no fat cream cheese.
For the Jam:
- Combine the fruit and sugar in a saucepan. I used fresh peaches here, but you can use any fruit. Apricot is quite traditional, but strawberry or blueberry is also nice.
- Add lemon juice, then simmer fruit.
- Blitz fruit with an immersion blender (you can also use a potato masher). Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
For the Dough:
- The finished dough in the mixing bowl should be quite sticky.
- Remove to a floured work surface and work in a bit more flour, just until it is kneadable.
- Form into a ball and set to rise until doubled.
To Shape and Fill:
- Divide dough into 8 pieces and form into a ball.
- Place balls onto parchment lined baking sheet.
- Use a dry measuring cup to flatten and make a rim to hold the filling.
- Add the cream cheese mixture.
- Add the jam, then brush with egg wash.
- Sprinkle crumble over-top and bake.
- Enriched doughs like this one with butter and eggs are notoriously slow risers. Timing will vary. Allow to rise until doubled, however long that takes.
- The dough should be quite moist, but kneadable. If dough is sticky on the counter, add a bit more flour, as needed, just until the dough no longer sticks to the counter or hands.
- I like to make the jam and cream cheese filling ahead and refrigerate. If doing this, take both out of the fridge when you start the dough, so they come to room temperature.
- After baking and cooling, Kolaches can be frozen up to 1 month.
Get the Recipe: Czech Kolaches
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk, warmed to lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon Active Dry or Instant yeast
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk, *Reserve egg white for brushing before baking
- 2 cups (245 g) all purpose flour, spooned and levelled
- Pinch salt
- 1/3 cup (75 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 1/2 oz (180 g) fruit, fresh or frozen, sliced or cut in half, if large
- 1/3 cup (70 g) white granulated sugar
- juice of 1/2 lemon
Cream Cheese Filling:
- 1 cup (120 g) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons (30 g) white granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- lemon zest, to taste
- 2 Tablespoons (22 g) light brown sugar
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons (22 g) all purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons (22 g) butter, cold
- For best results, I recommend using a kitchen scale and the provided weight measurements.
- Make the Jam (can be made ahead): Prepare the fruit by cleaning and removing any stems etc. If a larger fruit, slice or cut in half. Add the prepared fruit and sugar to a medium saucepan. Squeeze in juice of 1/2 lemon. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until sugar is dissolved, then simmer until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Use an immersion blender (or potato masher) to break up the fruit. Pour jam into a small bowl and allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate until needed.
- Make the Dough: Add lukewarm milk to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the kneading hook. Add the yeast and sugar and stir together. Let stand 5 minutes. (*Reserve the egg white from the egg yolk and use to later to brush pastries before baking). Add the egg and egg yolk and mix in. Add the flour and pinch of salt, then knead with the kneading hook until mixed in. Dough will be very wet. Add the butter in small pieces, kneading in. Once the butter has been incorporated, continue kneading in with the kneading hook, about 3-4 minutes. *If making by hand proceed to the next step and do the extra kneading on the counter.
- Remove the dough to a well-floured work surface. Using a bench scraper, work additional dough into the dough by folding over and into the dough with the dough scraper, adding a bit more flour, as needed, to reduce the stickiness. Start kneading by hand, when the dough stops sticking to your hands and knead a few minutes (if kneaded in the mixer) or 4-5 minutes if kneading by hand. Form dough into a ball and place into a greased bowl or container. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
- When dough has doubled, remove to a work surface, gently deflate and divide into 8 equal portions (mine were about 71g each). Form each portion into a ball, then place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover dough balls with a clean tea towel and allow to rise a second time, until puffy, about 1 hour.
- Make the Cream Cheese Filling: While the dough is rising, make the cream cheese filling by adding the cream cheese, sugar and flour to a medium bowl with an electric mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix together until smooth. Add the lemon juice and some lemon zest and mix in. Remove cream cheese mixture to a small bowl and cover. *If making ahead, cover and refrigerate, then remove from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.
- Make the Crumble Topping: While dough is rising, make the crumble topping by stirring together the brown sugar and flour in a small bowl. Add the cold butter and rub into the brown sugar mixture until you have pea-sized crumbs. Set aside.
- After the dough balls have risen, dip the bottom of a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup or similar glass bottom (about 2 1/4" in diameter) in a bit of flour, then use to press down the the centre of the balls, flattening and making a cavity in the centre, about 1/2-inch in from the edges and pressing down firmly and evenly (see step-by-step photos, if unclear).
- Place a dollop of the cream cheese filling in each bun, using the back of a spoon to spread it out in the cavity. Top with a dollop of jam and use a spoon to spread it over the cream cheese filling. Brush the outside ring of dough well with the reserved egg white. Sprinkle some crumble topping over the top.
- Preheat oven to 350F (regular bake/not fan assisted) with rack in the centre of the oven.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once baked and cooled, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freeze up to 1 month.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!