Homesick for Texas – Peach and Cream Cheese Kolaches

Despite not having grown up in Texas, I still consider myself to be somewhat Texan and associate with Texas all the time. I suppose living in Texas for four years brainwashed me. 😛 The funny thing is that when I first arrived in Texas, I wasn’t its biggest fan. I felt like I had been transported to another planet (ok, maybe that was a little exaggerated, but Texas does feel like a foreign country sometimes).

Living in Texas also introduced me to new foods, from real southern BBQ (before moving to Texas, I thought BBQ was hamburgers and hot dogs) to Tex-Mex. One of my favorite foods I discovered in Texas was the kolache – a breakfast pastry similar to to the danish, but made with bread dough instead of danish/croissant dough. Even though it was originally brought over by Czech immigrants, Texans have made the kolache their own by putting their own twist on the fillings and even the pronunciation. Texans say “kol-ah-chee” while the Czech pronunciation is “kolach” (with a silent “e”).

For some reason, kolaches are rather difficult to find outside of Texas. I’m sure they’re available in the Mid-West, but in California, no one has heard of them. So, feeling homesick for both the delicious pastry and Texas, I decided to make my own kolaches. I looked up a few recipes and found these from Homesick Texan and Confections of a Foodie Bride.

Kolaches consist of a basic sweet dough that are shaped into rounds or squares and filled with whatever fruit topping you like. Some people even stuff them with sausage. Common fruit fillings include apricot and blueberry. However, since I only had peaches in the house, I made peach kolaches instead. I also had an expiring block of cream cheese, so I made cream cheese kolaches as well.

This recipe was really easy to follow and straightforward. The only little problem (if you can call it that) was that I made the kolaches a tad too big. I thought I had shaped them into fairly small balls of dough, but boy was I wrong. They ended up rising quite a bit in the oven and became gigantic kolaches. Another difficulty I encountered was filling the wells. I suppose I just tried to put in too much filling because for every kolache, the filling spilled out of the well and down the sides. So make sure you put parchment paper underneath, which makes cleaning up extremely easy.

One of my fondest memories of eating kolaches was right before finals. Each semester, the Women in Engineering program hosted a pre-finals feast, consisting of Texas’ finest foods: breakfast tacos, chips and queso, and of course, kolaches. The fluffiness of the bread and the sweet filling of the kolache comforted me as I grew nervous about my imminent exams. After only four years, I’ve fallen in love with many traditions and cultural idiosyncrasies of Texas, with kolaches being near the top. Making these kolaches brought back good memories and brought a bit of Texas to California.

Peach and Cream Cheese Kolaches
Adapted from Homesick Texan and Confections of a Foodie Bride

For dough:
1 package of active dry yeast
1 cup of warm water
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup of melted butter
1 teaspoon of salt

For cream cheese filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon

For peach filling:
2 peaches
peach jam (I used apricot jam)

For posypka:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of sugar in warm water, then sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, 1/2 cup of melted butter (reserve 1/4 cup for brushing on the pastry) and salt.
3. Add 1 cup of flour and yeast to the egg mixture and mix.
4. Stir in about two more cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. The dough should be soft and moist.
5. Knead dough for about 10 minutes on floured surface.
6. Put dough in a greased bowl and let rise covered until doubled in size—about an hour. (I left in the refrigerator overnight and let the dough warm up the next day before using it.)
7. After dough has risen, punch it down. Pull off egg-sized pieces (maybe even smaller!), roll into balls, and then flatten to about three inches in diameter.
8. Place flattened pieces on a greased cookie sheet, brush with melted butter, cover and let rise again for another half-hour.
9. While waiting for the dough to rise, make the fillings and posypka. To make the cream cheese filling by beating the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon zest. To make the peach filling, cut up the two peaches into small pieces and mix with peach/apricot jam. (I microwaved the jam to make it more liquidy.) To make the posypka, crumble the butter, sugar, flour, and cinnamon together with your hands.
10. After second rising, gently make an indention in the center of the dough with two or three fingers. Fill each well with peach filling or cream cheese filling (about 1 tablespoon) and sprinkle with posypka.
11. Bake at 375F for 12 to 15 minutes and serve warm. Kolaches are best eaten warm and fresh from the oven, but they also taste good the day after.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

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Ready to Party – Margarita Cupcakes

Despite going to a huge party school and one in Texas, I wasn’t much of a drinker… until I turned 21. Lucky for me, I lived in one of the best cities to party. Austin is notoriously known for drinking, probably because it has 6th Street, a huge street lined with bars and clubs. It’s tradition to celebrate your 21st birthday downtown, hopping from bar to bar to get your free birthday shot. The ultimate goal is to drink 21 shots, which rarely happens. I’m quite the lightweight and suffer from asian glow, so on my 21st, I was only able to handle a measly 3 shots.

The famous Mexican Martini from Trudy’s

Another great birthday tradition is getting a famous Mexican Martini at Trudy’s… for FREE! A mix between a martini and a margarita, the Mexican Martini (aka Mexi-Mart) was notoriously strong, so strong that they limit you to only two per night. Don’t worry though, one drink is a full shaker, so it’s more than enough. And be careful because Mexi-Marts are known to sneak up on people. So if you’re ever thinking of going to Austin, you should definitely stop by Trudy’s.

Feeling a bit homesick for Austin and those margaritas, I made these margarita cupcakes using this recipe from Browneyed Baker since it had the most alcohol. 😉 However, even though it calls for several tablespoons of tequila, I had a hard time tasting the alcohol. But then again, if you’re wanting alcohol, you should probably just take a shot instead of eating a cupcake. 😛

These cupcakes were absolutely delicious! I made them for a party and everyone else seemed to agree. I’m not sure if they really tasted like a margarita, but there was definitely a strong lime flavor, which may have masked some of the tequila flavor. That was probably my fault in adding too much lime zest and juice to the frosting. Apparently, I have a heavy hand. 😛

Even though they may not have tasted like margaritas, you could definitely whip one up for yourself while making them. In fact, while pouring out tablespoons of tequila, I secretly wanted to pour myself a shot. Shh… don’t tell anyone.

Margarita Cupcakes
Adapted from Browneyed Baker (I doubled her recipe)

For the Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
Zest and juice of 3 limes
4 tablespoons tequila (or more!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (I used sour cream instead)

To Brush the Cupcakes:
1-2 tablespoons tequila (I didn’t measure because more tequila the better! jk)

For the Tequila-Lime Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons tequila
Pinch of coarse salt (I forgot this)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
4. Add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and tequila. Mix until combined. (The mixture may start to look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come back together, power on!) She was right! It looked gross, but came together at the end.
6. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand.
7. Pour the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden.
8. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the 1 to 2 tablespoons of tequila. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.
9. To make the frosting, whip the butter for 5 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Add the lime juice, tequila and salt mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes and garnish, if desired, with lime zest, an additional sprinkling of salt and a lime wedge.