A recipe for a sweet nut roll from my Slavic grandmothers
One of the things I find most interesting about European recipes is how so many versions of the same recipe share a common name across the land. Or, contrariwise, perhaps it’s a common food called by a different name. If you search the internet for Kolach (or Kolache) recipes you’ll find some look like Thumbprint cookies. Others look like what we call Kifel cookies (which taste like a super sweet blending of the flavors in the recipe I’m sharing today.) Well, Kolach is what we called this sweet nut roll in our home growing up so Kolach it will be!
My maternal great-grandmother was born in Czechoslovakia and a paternal one was born in Croatia so both of my parents brought their own version of the recipe to the kitchen. The merits of each were discussed each winter when we would bake, and speculations over the results of the current formulation written on the recipe card would be compared with the memories of the rolls relished in childhood. (I can say with certainty that the extra ingredient in the rolls of decades gone by was nostalgia.) In the end, I personally couldn’t choose one or the other so, just as my genes from two nations were blended together, likewise is the Kolach in my kitchen the harmonization of both.
Kolach dough is delightfully easy to work with. It’s so simple to create perfectly shaped, impressive loaves that are wonderful for adding when you take folks a meal or share as a gift. (They freeze very well so double the recipe and make sure you always have a few stored away!)
We like a moist nut filling, but not a soggy one so I forego the traditional walnuts and choose oily pecans. Often they don’t need any additional moisture added, but if so, an egg white does the trick. You can use a high-powered blender to grind your nuts though a hand-cranked grinder really extracts the oils nicely. If you go a touch too far with moisture in the nut filling, just keep your fingers dusted with a little flour while spreading it out.
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A recipe for a sweet nut roll from my Slavic grandmothers to add to your winter baking
You’re welcome to download this recipe card to your device to save or print. Enjoy!