Written by Katie Schon
Many cakes and pastries which originated in the Czech lands are now found worldwide, especially where Czechs immigrated, taking with them the local recipes that they enjoyed in the villages and cities from which they came. The most famous is the kolache.
Kolaches are a traditional Czech dessert. The name originates from the Czech word “kolo,” which means “circle.” In Czech, a single one is called a kolache, and more than one is called kolaches – though in America, you may hear them called kolaches. And while Czech kolaches do vary by region – some being larger with more filling than pastry, almost tart-like with slices cut out for serving, and some being smaller, individual pastries – all of them are round. They are most commonly filled with apricots, cream cheese, poppy seeds, or plums. They can be open-faced or filled, and there are various possible techniques for piping and decorating the kolache that differ regionally. Kolaches are also often topped with posypka, which translates to sprinkles or crumb, but is actually just a mixture made of flour, sugar, and butter.
And just like the old game of telephone, what most non-Czechs understand kolache to be is different than an authentic kolache found in the Czech Republic. What most Americans think of as a kolache are square puffy sweet rolls with a fruit or cheese center. Some even confuse klobasniky, the small rolls wrapped around klobasa sausage, for kolace. Klobasniky is actually quite rare in the Czech Republic and is found only in one small area of southeastern Moravia, near Slovakia.
Chodsko kolache are a traditional dessert typical for the Plzen Region, situated in the south-western part of the Czech Republic in the town of Chodsko. There are not many specialties that are as renowned as Chodsko kolache in Czech cuisine. It uses a special kind of piping called merhovani, which is a round piping of jam mixed with poppy seeds in traditional patterns. Chodsko is divided into two parts: Upper Chodsko and Lower Chodsko, and each of them has its own approach in making this significant food.
Frgal is a pie-shaped pastry from the Wallachian region of Eastern Moravia. Three hundred years ago, you might find frgal filled with sauerkraut or beets, but now it is a predominantly sweet treat, filled with poppy seed and other typical Czech flavors. For a truly perfect Frgal, the dough must rise 3 times at different stages in the preparation. And don’t be afraid to go a little heavy on the filling.
Moravian kolaches are among the best, and they helped make Czech cuisine more famous in world gastronomy. They are the version most similar to kolaches found in America – small, round, open-faced fruit and cheese pastries. A classic choice for special occasions, the Moravian kolache is a traditional pastry more than 200 years old. They are found in the South Moravian, Olomouc, and Zlin Regions.
Originally, kolaches were usually only baked on holidays such as Christmas and Easter, and for special occasions like christenings and weddings. In wealthier cottages, they were baked almost every Sunday. Wedding kolache are atypical in size compared to other kolaches. They are very small, bite-sized treats, so they usually have to make a hundred or more for a celebration.
Kolaches are now served in the Czech Republic at harvest feasts and other kinds of celebrations and can be found at bakeries and cafes across the country every day.
„This section on Czech traditions is maintained thanks to the support of the Rudolf Jelinek Company. For more information about this original Czech distillery, please click here.”