Poppy Seed Kolache

BakingPastryPoppy Seed

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

Ingredients

  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 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 tablespoon 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

Method

1 Combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and nutmeg or mace in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

2 Make the dough: 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°F to 130°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 Knead dough and let rise: 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 Prepare filling: 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.

6 Roll out dough, cut into squares: Roll each dough half into a 16x8 inch rectangle, about an 1/8 inch thick. Cut each rectangle into 8 4x4 squares.

cut kolache dough add poppyseed filling to kolache squares

7 Add filling, fold and press dough corners: 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.

fold kolache dough over poppyseed filling fold kolache secure kolache secure kolache with toothpick

8 Second rise: Place on well greased baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 35 minutes).

9 Brush with egg wash: Brush with an egg wash made with one egg beaten with a tablespoon of milk.

10 Bake: Bake in a 375°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.

Links:

Lisa Fain's kolaches from the Homesick Texan

Poppy Seed Kolache

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

42 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Lynda

    I have my Great Grandmas recipe for Kolache as my Grandmother pronounced it. She got it from My Great Grandmother and was taught how by her. They came to WI from Bohemia which is now the Czech Republic a long story there. But they settled in mid-upper WI area and had 10 children. My Grandmother made the Most Awesome Delicious Kolache we all would just fill our stomachs with as many as would fit. OMG I can almost taste them now. Our favorites were the Prune with a Cheese topping and the Poppyseed. She made the Poppyseed by hand in where she would grind them and then cook them in Milk on the stove then she added sugar and a dash of cinnamon. It was to Die for. I have made her recipe many many times and my children can’t wait to get hold of them either. I must have inheireted some of her talents. Sadly no one in my family wants to learn how.. So I will make them as long as I can and then the recipe will be passed down and who so ever wants to try to make them can.

  2. Hali Dahlby

    I have a recipe handed down from my mother who’s family also settled in Minnesota and made them closed too. My mom used to say that the closed bun was the traditional Kolache and the open faced were called something else, she had a name she called them but I cannot remember it now. Can anyone verify that? Or is it as you say a Minnesota way?

    Show Replies (2)
  3. Teresa Massie

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! It helped me so much! I had my fathers recipe handed down from my grandmother, but there really wasn’t any directions to go by! My parents are originally from MN, and yours look just like my dad used to make! (He passed away about 12 years ago) the only difference is that we’ve always drizzled white icing to the Kolache’s. I made it last week and they turned out amazingly! I just need to work on making them even and more uniformed. It was my first try so I didn’t beat myself up! Merry Christmas! Pax!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Heather

    For filling, my grandma used fresh ground poppyseeds and mixed them with just enough Rogers syrup.

  5. Sherry Shivley

    My Mother in laws parents came from Bohemia, to Wisconsin, to Pauline NE, settling in Wray CO almost 100 years ago. I have searched for Kolache recipes like her Mother Anna made, but this is the first that folded them like Anna. She always filled hers with prune, and served at Christmas. Thankyou for posting this!

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