The Story of Kolaches
After high school in Dallas I went to college in Austin, so for the first couple of years I hitched rides between the two places several times a year. For UT students, there were several popular stopovers on the four-hour ride, including a little bakery in the town of West, Texas (about 10 miles north of Waco, the halfway point) that specialized in kolaches.
Kolaches represent a type of pastry common across Eastern Europe -- though the origin of the name is Macedonian. The sweet roll consists of a lump of yeast-risen dough enfolding a dollop of jam or smear of crushed nuts, often surmounted by a crumbly, buttery, and sugary streussel topping.The Czech Republic and Poland both claim kolaches as one of their most beloved pastries.
Even then, my friends and I understood this treat to be of Czech origin, and there were eventually a half-dozen bakeries that did them up and down the streets of West and nearby towns. The kolaches were available in a dozen sweet styles, but only a few savory, which generally contained different types of sausage.
Kolaches have now spread across Central Texas, and on a recent visit I was able to buy some in an industrial park on the southeast side of Austin near the airport, and on the outskirts of Fredericksburg in the Hill Country.
Now Texas expat Autumn Stanford has established a kolache bakery in Brooklyn, in the northeast section of Bedford-Stuyvesant near the corner of Bedford and DeKalb. Not content to merely reproduce the Tex-Czech pastry, she's innovated, and her kolaches are bigger and more opulent than their humbler Texas cousins.