Being from Racine, Wi I grew up with one of the best bakeries in the country in my town. My grandfather used to go there at least once a month and pick me a kolache. Now many people might be unaware of what a kolache is, well it is a sweet dough with a fruit filling that comes for the Czech Republic. Prune was always my favorite flavor, followed closely by apricot. Since I am no longer living in Racine and there isn’t a good bakery around for quite a distance I decided to try to make these delicious little pastries. Now for all of you who have already decided this recipe must be aweful for including prunes, you have been misguided about the deliciousness of a juicy prune. They really are wonderful fruits. But, if you must insist the following recipe can also be made with dried apricots, but you really are missing out then. These are best right out of the oven, or even with a little powdered sugar glaze. They are just adorable and almost bite size that you might have a hard time stopping.
Recipe (from America’s Best Lost Recipes by the editors of Cook’s Country)
1/2 cup warm milk
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk, beaten
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1 tsp rapid rise or instant yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
For the dough:
Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray. Mix the milk, sugar, butter, and egg yolk together in a large measuring cup. Stir the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixture on low, add the milk mixture. After the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium an dmix until shiny and smooth, 5-7minutes. Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured surface, shape into a ball and place in the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Spray two 9″ cake pans with cooking spray. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12″ circle, about 1/4″ thick. (Yes, being the engineer that I do actually use a ruler for this). Using a 2″ round cutter, cut the dough into rounds and arrange in to greased cake pan with two in the center and eight around the perimeter of each pan. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
During this time make the filling:
Bring prunes, water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until the prunes soften, about 5-7minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth.
Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 375degrees. Using your fingers, make a 1″ wide indentation on the top of each dough round and press to form a small circle. Fill the center of each round with 1 tsp of the filling. Bake until golden brown, 15-20minutes. Serve warm.
And to all those people out there who are scared of yeast, don’t be. It’s not going to bite back. What’s the worst that will happen? And don’t worry, it won’t make doughs grow to take over your entire kitchen, it’ll just fill it with the smell of freshly baked bread.