Monday, December 19, 2011



Old World Kolache

I grew up in an ethnic neighborhood where there were primarily Italians, Greeks and Eastern European residents. It seemed that all the women had their own recipe for Kolache. Everyone made it at Christmastime. Back then, it did not seem unusual to me that there was only one nut grinder in the entire neighborhood. Everyone took turns using it to grind the l pound of nuts required to make the recipe. How much easier we have it today with our very own food processors. Almost everyone has one. We would have never believed that to be possible back in the 50’s. Sharing was a part of our way of life.

Always a Basket Next to the Door Brimming Full of Kolache Loaves

Kolache seems to have originated with the Czech culture and dates back to the 1700’s. The Polish families in our neighborhood prided themselves on making this old world bread. I remember every Christmas or Thanksgiving seeing a basket sitting next to the door of almost every home just filled with aluminum foil wrapped kolache. I would not be exaggerating to say that some families had several dozen waiting for relatives and friends to take home. “Be sure to grab a kolache on your way out” was something I always heard mentioned. A lot of the recipes included fruit but the one used in our neighborhood always had nuts. I have heard it called “Nut Rolls” later but back then it was Kolache.

Loaf of Kolache Just Out of the Oven

Years ago, my mother had a baking session in the Woodloft (my home) kitchen. She taught my daughters how to make her famous kolache. Naturally, everyone assumed that I already knew how to make this delicacy but the truth was that I had always been quite happy to let my mother make it each year. I had never actually made it from scratch on my own. I was hoping that by osmosis or some other scientific miracle I absorbed the method because this Christmas, for the first time ever, I made my own batch of kolache.

I must tell you, there were many tears shed as remembered how my mother would say, “be sure to add just a thin amount of the evaporated milk,” or “you have to make sure you add just the right amount of honey.” The kitchen looked and smelled exactly like it did in those precious days when my mother was at the helm. The lacking ingredient, of course, was my dear mother’s laugh as she kneaded the dough and carefully wrapped each treasure in aluminum foil.

Here is my mother’s recipe. I think she made the best kolache in town, but then again, everyone thought they made the best.

Jane Galloway’s Kolache

5 cups regular white flour 1 t. vanilla
1 cup of whole wheat flour 3 small cakes of yeast or 2 envelopes
2 T. sugar 3 eggs, beaten
1t. salt 1 C. milk
1 lb margarine canned milk-evaporated milk
Honey –

1 lb. shelled ground walnuts
1 lb brown sugar

Mix flour, sugar, margarine and salt as for pie crust. Dissolve yeast into ¼ C. water and add to milk, vanilla and eggs. Add liquid mixture a little at a time to flour mixture. (knead with hands) Place in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Divide into 9 pieces or 7, depending on desired size. Roll out, spread the top with canned milk (thin) and spread with nut mixture filling and add honey on top.

Roll up the dough and let rise for about 30 minutes on a cookie sheet. Brush with canned milk and an egg and add a dash of white sugar to the top of each roll. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes watching carefully to make sure the top does not burn.

This bread is absolutely delicious. It is filled with walnuts. The yeast dough combined with the subtle taste of honey just melts in your mouth. Served warm out of the oven, it is the embodiment of pure pleasure.

Merry Christmas!

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  1. what a wonderful story and so generous of you too share your treasure of a recipe with us all. I will try to make this and let you know how I do,,

  2. Aren't memories wonderful!

    I have never tasted this and it looks delicious - thanks for sharing the recipe Cheryl and your lovely memory!

  3. I loved the kolache but the ones my Mom and Aunt Do (Marcheck) were small cookies filled with nuts. I remember the other kind too. I think my Aunt Lucille (Libatore) made the kind you are talking about. It was more like a nut roll. They were both delicious.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours, Lynne. I love you, girl. We were so blessed to have lived in Westlawn. xox

  4. Cheryl, Thanks so much for sharing your mother's recipe. I'm going to try making this soon. My husband loves to bake bread, and we can make it a joint project! I hope your holidays are fabulous!! xxooxox!

  5. How meaningful this is to you and to share it with all of us! Thank you. It looks and sounds yummy!

    A very Merry, Healthy, and Joyous Christmas to you and yours! xxoo

  6. This is my first time to hear kolache. It looks like a sumptuous dish based from hour recipe and description.
    By the way, this is my first Xmas in the blogosphere with friends and a lot of followed blogs, I can't wait to see your Xmas related post Cheryl :) Have a happy Christmas!

  7. This looks wonderful Cher. Isn't it nice to have such fond memories of times shared with our mothers. Baking at Christmas is a very big memory for me. Sounds like it is for you too. Enjoy the holidays and look forward to more blog visits and a creative 2012. Thanks for visiting and your lovely comment.

  8. Thank you for sharing such a great story Cheryl. The Kolach looks wonderful and am sure the kitchen smelt heavenly. Wishing you a very happy Christmas and New Year, xx

  9. It looks delicous and thank you for sharing the recipe! I wonder if you could make it using pistachios or almonds?

  10. I wish you a wonderfull christmas and a happy, healthy and creative new year

  11. Best wishes for a wonderful and peaceful Christmas to you and yours!

    Hugs, Gaby

  12. yummmy! much LOVE, GOOD HEALTH and PEACE to you this CHRISTMAS and always, Cheryl. YOU know i'll be back here as well! xo

  13. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too Ceryl hope that you are having a wonderful Christmas time, about the image, it's a freebie and you can find it here,
    the bread looks fantastic delicious.
    "See" you in 2012
    Hugs Anni

  14. Hi Cheryl :)
    I love these, but you are right, we always called them nut rolls...I still get mine from the church ladies. I found a pair of santos hands at a vintage shop! I might make myself my own Santo...(that was my dad's name) I sure wish I could sculpt a face like you do...
    Thank you for the comment, you always make me smile. Have a happy Christmas time. ♥♥♥Lisa

  15. Thanks for sharing! I am sooo tempted to make this! A blessed Christmas to you and your family! Patsy from

  16. What beautiful memories. Thank you for sharing your precious recipe with us. Much love to you this season and all seasons. ♥

  17. It looks yummy Cheryl, So wish I could eat nuts!
    Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas!
    hugs Lynn

  18. Hi Cheryl. Your recipe looks delicious, I'll give it to my friend who is an excellent cooker!!!! And it's so good that you still have these wonderful memories......
    I wish a peaceful and happy Christmas.
    (I was not here for ages!!!!, so sorry)


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