This is my dear sweet Grandpa Bruno. He was a master baker and poured his heart into every single item he made, no matter if it was at work or home. He hosted Sunday dinner at his home every week and everyone was invited. Seriously, everyone. I brought so many friends into that home and he treated every one as a bonus grandchild.
He passed away in 2010 but his passion for food and family lives on in his kids and grandkids (and great grandkids). I've attempted to recreate many of the foods he introduced us to but none are as close to my heart as kolaches. These were the food that I would sneak and hide from the rest of my family to make sure I got the last one. Nothing says "Grandpa" to me as much as a cream cheese kolache.
What is a kolache? It's very similar to a danish but it's an Eastern European version. I honestly can't tell you the difference other than I grew up eating kolaches since Grandpa was straight from Poland.
These are amazing right out of the oven (okay, let them cool a bit or you won't have much feeling left in your mouth) or for a few days after if kept in the fridge. I prefer them warmed up a bit but my kids gobble them up at room temp or cold. I've heard you can freeze them for later but there are never enough around here to do that ;)
I adapted this recipe from Tori Avey making one small change so they are just as Grandpa made them for so many years. Instead of cutting the dough into rounds I cut the dough into squares, spoon on the topping, then fold in each corner to the center. This creates a smaller square and the filling peeks out the corners. Tori Avey also has recipes for several different traditional fillings but since the cream cheese was always my favorite it's the only one I make around here.
Don't be intimidated by the length of time needed for this recipe. Like most yeast dough recipes it's a lot of passive time for the dough to rise. The long rises are what help make the dough so incredibly light and airy. Don't rush the rises. I like to start the dough right after breakfast and by the time all the rises have taken place I can usually be baking these during naps so we can eat the fresh ones for snack that afternoon! I bet you could also do most of the rising in the evening and then place them all ready to be baked in the fridge overnight so you can have fresh baked kolache in the morning. I haven't tried it that way but now I think I need to experiment!
If you try these make sure you let me know how they turn out!