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Eatymology: Kolache

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Eatymology: Kolache
Written by Emily Storrow | Photography by Shannon O'Hara

Kolache

[kō-läch-chē]

n: A filled pastry that offers a glimpse into Texas’ Old World Heritage 

Photo by Shannon O'Hara

When Revival Market hosted its first kolache breakfast, the pastries sold out in less than an hour. “It was pandemonium,” says Ryan Pera, chef of the Houston eatery. For Texans, kolaches are a taste of home from a world away. The pastries—made of yeast dough and usually filled with a dollop of fruit or cheese—were brought to the Lone Star State by Bohemian and Moravian Czech immigrants in the mid-to late nineteenth century. Largely entering through the port of Galveston, the newcomers settled in the hills and prairies of Central Texas—a swath now dubbed the Czech Belt. Originally, kolaches maintained the flavors of their central European homeland. But over time, the fillings evolved to reflect the Texan landscape: kolaches laden with Satsuma oranges or prickly pear, sausage and cheddar-stuffed klobasniky (an iteration unique to Texas). Revival Market holds kolache breakfasts about four times a year. “Each time we make a thousand and still sell out,” Pera says. For many, the kolache breakfasts tap into childhood memories. And it’s no surprise—the idea came from Pera’s business partner Morgan Weber, whose own Czech grandmother made kolaches from scratch every weekend. A self-described food purist, Pera’s kolaches may be a modern take on the tradition (think fig and ricotta; peach, bourbon, and bacon), but he keeps his flavors pure. “I try to imagine what Czech bakers were using before they immigrated to the US. I like to believe they were using less sugar and real fruit. Simple ingredients.”

Fig and Ricotta Kolaches 

Smoked Sausage Klobasniky