Cherry is my personal favorite. And it has been since I was a little girl and was first introduced to kolace, usually at the home of my great-grandmother, Olive (Moravek) Rashleigh. She was Czechoslovakian and whenever we got together for family gatherings at her house, my mom would take homemade kolace with fillings like cherry, apricot, prune and poppyseed.
When Steve and I saw the “open” sign in the window of the normally closed bakery in Wilber last weekend at the Czech Festival (read more about that here), we couldn’t resist the temptation of the buttery, fruit-filled pastries. When we got inside, we saw hundreds of kolace that filled the cases of small bakery and took our place in the back of a long line of other kolace lovers. As we waited, I looked around the old bakery a bit, noticing the large wooden paddles on the wall which were once used to slide the tasty treats in and out of the oven. Behind the counter, where the owners struggled to keep pace with the demand for their sweet pastries, I saw a large kitchen with racks and racks of kolace baked special for the annual festival.
The owner asked if I’d like to see the old oven, and of course, I said yes. In between filling orders, she showed me around the kitchen and back to the old Middleby-Marshall oven that, for decades, has baked kolace and rye bread on six revolving shelves.
The owner told me the oven came from a bakery in Syracuse, Neb., and can bake 630 kolace at one time. Considering the entire process of making kolace takes about six hours, that’s a good thing. He said they made more than 1,200 kolace for the Czech Festival this year and from the looks of the lines at the bakery, they were easily going to sell out. He said cherry is, by far, the top seller and accounts for about one-third of their sales. The Wilber Bakery also carried raspberry, poppyseed, apricot, and cream cheese kolace.
When we returned from Wilber last weekend, I took my mom a half dozen of her favorite flavor – poppyseed. I remembered her making kolace as well when I was a kid, and asked if she had great-grandma’s recipe for me to share on our blog. She said she hadn’t used great-grandma’s recipe in a very long time, as she had gotten another from a local Czech woman and she says it’s even better. If you have the time, see for yourself.
Have you had kolace? What is your favorite filling? Let us know in the comment section. We’d love to hear from you.