November 29, 2019

Pineapple Cream Cheese Kolaches



Happy Black Friday!  I, for one, will be avoiding brick and mortar stores at all costs today.  Having worked more than a decade in the retail industry I remember the mayhem that could ensue with those door buster deals.  And don't even get me started on the parking drama. Thanks, but I'll pass!  I'm much rather stay at home and bake.  

Kolaches have been on my baking bucket list for quite some time now, but life seemed to get in the way and it fell by the wayside.   No better time than the present to give them a try.  I first became aware of these Czech pastries on an episode of Cook's Country.  Apparently they are quite popular in Texas and some Midwestern states.  Who would have known? 

What really intrigued me about the kolaches was the combination of a soft, buttery bread filled in the center with cream cheese or fruit.  Normally you see that combination in a laminated dough, like a Danish.  I decided to make my kolaches with cream cheese and fruit because two fillings are obviously better than one, right?   For the cream cheese filling I used a recipe I found for cheese Danish from the NY Times.  For the fruit filling I had to go with my all-time favorite, pineapple! 


The kolache dough was a dream to work with, i.e., really pliable and easy to shape.   Creating the round indentations in the center of the dough balls was a snap with a greased 1/3 cup measuring cup.  To fill the kolaches with limited mess I used pastry decorating bags but you can easily substitute with Ziploc bags.  A brush of egg wash and a generous sprinkle of streusel and the kolaches were ready for the oven.

The smells emanating from the oven while the kolaches baked were absolutely intoxicating and I couldn't wait to see how they turned out.  While they looked great I was really hoping that they tasted even better.  I'm very happy to report I wasn't disappointed!  The buttery bread was so soft and light and the duo of cream cheese and pineapple fillings was perfect.  No need to fly to Texas, I'll definitely be baking these kolaches again.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Kolaches

Makes 16 kolaches

Dough
1 cup whole milk
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg + 2 large egg yolks
3 1/2 cups (17 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Pineapple Filling
10 oz frozen pineapple
5 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
pinch of salt

Streusel
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut in to 8 pieces

Egg Wash
1 large egg
1 tablespoon whole milk
   
FOR THE DOUGH: Grease large bowl. Whisk milk, melted butter, and egg and yolks together in 2-cup liquid measuring cup (butter will form clumps). Whisk flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Fit stand mixer with dough hook, add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix on low speed until no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough clears sides of bowl but still sticks to bottom, 8 to 12 minutes.

Transfer dough to prepared bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Place dough on lower-middle rack, and place loaf pan on bottom of oven. Pour 3 cups boiling water into loaf pan, close oven door, and let dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

FOR THE FRUIT FILLING: Combine fruit, sugar, and cornstarch in bowl. Microwave, covered, until bubbling and thickened, about 6 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Mash with potato masher. Let cool completely. 

FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FILLING: Blend all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  

FOR THE STREUSEL: Combine flour, sugar, and butter in bowl and rub between fingers until mixture resembles wet sand. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down dough and place on lightly floured counter. Divide dough into quarters and cut each quarter into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into rough ball by pulling dough edges underneath so top is smooth. On unfloured counter, cup each ball with your palm and roll into smooth, tight ball. Arrange 8 balls on each prepared sheet and cover loosely with plastic. Place sheets on oven racks. Replace water in loaf pan with 3 cups boiling water, close oven door, and let dough rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Remove sheets and loaf pan from oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bottom of 1/3-cup measure (or 2 1/4-inch-diameter drinking glass). Make deep indentation in center of each dough ball by slowly pressing until cup touches sheet. (Perimeter of balls will deflate slightly but not completely.)

Gently brush kolaches all over with egg-milk mixture. Divide cream cheese filling evenly among kolaches and then pineapple filling. Sprinkle streusel over kolaches, avoiding filling. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let kolaches cool on pans for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

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