Poppy Seed Kolache

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Classic Czechoslovakian kolache pastry, with a poppy seed filling. Minnesota style, the pastry is folded up on itself.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

My father gets a faraway look in his eyes when he remembers his Minnesota Czech grandmother’s poppy seed pastries. Called “kolache” (koh-LAH-chee), “kolacky” (koh-LAH-kee), or how my dad pronounces it, koh-LAH-chkey, these Czechoslovakian yeast-based pastries can be filled with any sweet pie or pastry filling.

Dad loves poppy seed filling, and armed with an old Better Homes and Gardens recipe, he set out to recreate the kolaches of his childhood. I think he was successful (after quadrupling the filling to dough ratio in the recipe), so much so that the day after making and eating these, he announced that he had gained 2 pounds, prompting him to give up dessert for two whole days. (Please God, in my next life, could I have my father’s metabolism?)

My father makes these kolaches with canned poppy seed filling. If you want, you can make the filling from scratch; I’ve included a filling recipe that I found online.

Poppy Seed Kolache Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 16 kolaches.


  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace or ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Canned poppy seed filling (or make your own*)
  • Raisins (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp milk

*Poppyseed filling (if you want to make your own filling, otherwise, you can use canned)

  • 1 cup poppy seed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup chopped dates
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts
  • Dash of cinnamon


1 In a large mixing bowl combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and nutmeg or mace; set aside.

2 In a medium saucepan heat and stir the 1 cup milk, the 1/2 cup butter, the granulated sugar, and salt just until warm (120 degree F to 130 degree F) and butter almost melts. Add milk mixture to dry mixture along with the two eggs and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping side of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in lemon zest and as much of the remaining flour as you can.

3 Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (for 1 to 1-1/2 hours).

4 If you are making the poppy seed filling from scratch, combine the filling ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until it thickens, stirring often. Set filling aside to cool.

5 Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. Grease 2 baking sheets.

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6 Roll each dough half into a 16x8 inch rectangle, about an 1/8 inch thick. Cut each rectangle into 8 4x4 squares. Place a large, heaping tablespoon of poppy seed filling onto the center of each square. If you want, add a few raisins to the top of the filling. Brush the four corners of each square with water. Draw the corners up and gently press together. Secure with a toothpick. Place on well greased baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 35 minutes).

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7 Brush with an egg wash made with one egg beaten with a tablespoon of milk. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Remove toothpicks.

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Adapted from a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens, 1997.

Lisa Fain's kolaches from the Homesick Texan

Poppy Seed Kolache

Showing 4 of 25 Comments

  • Jamie

    This is exactly how my Grandmother has always made them! After seeing the resurgence in popularity of kolache and only finding circular ones, I thought maybe we had them wrong, and Grandma is gone now so I can’t ask. But finding you’re blog made me glad to see we aren’t the only squares in the world :)

  • Rose

    I was so excited to see your photo! They look EXACTLY like the ones we make, and your dad pronounces them the same way five generations of my family have. KO-LUTCH-KEY. Not to be confused by the other fifth generation (in the US) of ko-lach, which is a rectangle spread with filling and rolled. Pecan or poppyseed filling. Our kalatchkys are always with canned plum prune filling, and truly look exactly like yours. This is a first. Thank you.

  • Andi Nicholson

    So glad to find this recipe my Grandmother made these and she also filled some with cherry filling. They were a favorite of your 19 grandchildren.

  • Zina Pittrova


    I would just like to add a little note regarding “kolace” (pronounced /kola:tʃe)/ a “satecky” (pronounced /ʃa:tetʃki/; see the International Phonetic Alphabet that ELT teachers use in case you don´t know how to read the symbols).

    This recipe should actually be called ´SATECKY´ (and perhaps spelt “shatechki” to reflect the pronunciation).
    Here you can see the difference. Notice the round shape of “kolace” or “kolacky” (“kolacky” tend to be smaller, “kolace” bigger, although not necessarily) here: http://www.apetitonline.cz/recepty/8500-tlacene-kolace.html
    and “satecky” here:

    I´ve heard the same mixed-up stuff from people who have been to places like Pilsen or Prague in the USA. They got really confused and surprised when they saw bakery products they know as “satecky” called “kolace” in the USA. Apparently, words like “kolace” a “satecky” got mixed up along the way, when some old grandpas and grandmas born in good old Bohemia had passed away. If people in the Czech community in the USA are used to using these words this way, I do not mind at all, but please bear in mind that you might be disappointed or confused when you come to the Czech Republic, or speak to someone from Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, and even Slovakia. No big deal as long as some traditions survive, though, and as long as even women in the USA cook and not just pop into a fastfood chain “restaurant” like the Golden Arches. Here in the Czech Republic women still cook a lot.
    So, keep on the hard work and cook, wherever you are and whatever you call it :).
    All the best
    Zina Pittrova, nei Jerabkova.
    (I was born in Pilsen, the Czech Republic, and have lived here all my life.)

  • johanna

    How funny, I recently had a request for a kolache recipe, we call them golatschen in Austria. I love them especially with powidl, the incredibly thick plum jam that’s stewed overnight for an unbelieveably intense flavour… wow. I should make them more often!

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