This week we venture to the Czech Republic, where I have found myself relying a little too heavily on the questionable products of Google Translate. I thought the most accurate recipes would be in Czech, and so I found a couple of recipes, but the problems started when I turned them into English. So this week, I’ve made “best bloated cakes” with “water filler”, more commonly known as koláče.
“His scent is simply narcotic!” one poorly translated recipe stated. But despite my slight unease at trying to make sense of some of the translation (thanks Google!), they did smell good, and they turned out surprisingly well, especially when I found out that I didn’t have to put butter in a ‘sauerkraut’, but needed to put it in a saucepan instead.
Koláče were originally created as a semi-sweet wedding dessert, and their name comes from the word ‘kolo’ which means wheel. The dough is super soft, and mine turned into a giant bowl of thick liquid before starting to come together. There is definitely a benefit to having a mixer to make these, if you’ve got one around. There are other fillings that I haven’t added here, with cottage cheese (or quark, which is apparently the closest thing you can get in the UK), or prunes. But I thought I’d keep it simple. In fact, the ones pictured aren’t plum jam, they’re apricot. Still delicious either way.
500g plain flour
300ml lukewarm milk
7g fast action yeast
100g caster sugar
90g melted butter
pinch of salt
1 egg + 1 beaten egg for brushing pastry with
raisins/almonds for decoration
400g plum jam
50g icing sugar
pinch of mixed spice
150g finely ground nuts (preferably walnuts)
150g icing sugar
3 egg yolks
- Put the flour and yeast into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in 2/3 of the milk. Stir until the dough comes together. Sprinkle with a little flour, and then leave in a warm place to rise for 30 mins.
- Add the sugar, salt and egg and mix. Then add the remaining milk and butter. This will make the dough very wet, so it’s easier to use a mixer on a low speed for about 10 mins. If you’re kneading by hand, it will take longer, and might not seem like it’s coming together properly. Leave to rest for 45-60 mins.
- Divide the dough into 45g pieces and roll into balls. Put them on baking sheets lined with baking parchment. Make sure they spaced a few cms apart as you will be flattening them out soon! Cover with a tea towel or foil and leave to rise for 45 mins.
- Use a glass or jar to press down in the centre of each dough ball, leaving approx. 0.5cm around the edge. Don’t be afraid to push it down a lot, the dough in the middle should be thin.
- To make the jam filling: mix the jam with the sugar, rum and spice together
- To make the walnut filling: melt the butter in a saucepan and mix in the nuts. Cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes, then add the icing sugar, and leave for another couple of minutes (keep an eye on it, don’t let it get too brown). Remove from the heat and add the milk, then let it cool. Once cool mix in the egg yolks.
- Brush the cakes with the beaten egg, fill with your chosen fillings and decorate with raisins or almonds. Leave to stand for 10 minutes and then bake at 160°C for 15-20 mins.