Several years ago, I met and fell in love with a boy from a large Slovak family. Every Christmas Eve, the family would get together for supper. My first Christmas Eve supper with them was just two months after meeting the man who would become my husband. That night was my introduction to parts of the Slovak culture and to the food they enjoyed on Christmas. One of those things was Kolachy, a Slovak poppy seed rolls.
If you were to do a quick search on Kolachy, you’ll come across a few different styles of pastries, most of which are akin to a fruit or jam filled cookie. You’ll also find that there are several different spellings. These Kolachy though, while a pastry, are much more similar to a cinnamon roll than they are a cookie. I started making these poppy seed rolls every year for my husband’s Grandfather as it became more difficult for him to make the two-hour trip to purchase them.
A soft, supple yeasted dough is created with flour, milk, butter, and eggs. It starts off shaggy, but as the mixer does all the work, it quickly forms into a ball. Turning the speed up, begin to knead the dough, adding in more flour only if needed. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and after a few minutes of kneading, it will be smooth and slightly tacky. If you press your finger to the dough, it will feel sticky but pull away clean.
The dough for the poppy seed rolls is then left to rise until doubled in size and the filling is created by combining poppy seeds, milk, and sugar in a small saucepan. The filling is brought to a boil and cooked, stirring often until the milk has been mostly absorbed. Remove the filling from the heat and let it cool while the dough is rising.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down, then turn it out onto a floured board and cut it in half as it makes it easier to work with. Roll one half out into a 13×9 rectangle. Don’t worry about being precise, just make sure it’s a large rectangle. Spread half the filling onto your dough and then roll up like you would a cinnamon roll, starting with the long side. Place your roll, seam side down on a large, lined baking sheet and cut three or four diagonal slashes in the top. This lets steam escape while baking. Repeat with the second half of dough, creating two poppy seeds rolls total.
Cover each roll with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350F. Finally, brush the tops and sides with a bit of heavy cream or an egg wash and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing into rounds.
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A Christmas Eve treat, these Kolachy are a traditional Slovak Poppy Seed roll. A supple dough rolled with a slightly sweetened poppy seed filling.
- 1pkg yeast (about 3 tsp)
- 1cup milk (warm)
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 stick room temp butter (cut into 8 pieces)
- 4 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 oz poppy seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2c sugar
- 1/2c milk
- heavy cream
- To make the dough, place the ingredients in the following order, into the bowl of a stand mixer. Warm milk, sugar, yeast, egg, butter pieces, flour, salt.
- Using the dough hook, turn the mixer onto low and begin to combine the ingredients. Once the flour is moistened, turn the speed up by one notch and a shaggy dough will form.
- Continue letting the mixer do the work, turning it up to medium until the dough becomes smooth and slightly tacky. Use extra flour only if needed.
- When properly kneaded, the dough should be soft and tacky. It will stick to your fingers, but pull away clean.
- Turn the dough out into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, make the filling by combining the poppy seed, salt, sugar, and milk in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a boil and continue to cook, stirring often until most of the milk has been absorbed.
- Remove from the heat and let cool.
- After the dough has risen, punch down and turn out onto a floured board.
- Cut in half to make it easier to work with.
- Roll each half into a 13×9 rectangle. Don’t worry about being precise.
- Spread half the poppy seed filling onto the dough and roll like you would a cinnamon roll, using the long side.
- Repeat with the other half of dough and filling.
- Place onto a lined baking sheet and cut a few diagonal slashes into each roll.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to rise again about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Brush each roll with a bit of heavy cream or an egg wash right before baking.
- Baked for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let cool completely before slicing on a bias into rounds.
Adapted from Slovak-American Cook Book