Kim Pierce and I share a few things in common. We both write about food, are wild about food, and share the same last name. It’s almost like we’re related.
But we’re not.
Might as well be, though.
We finally met oh-so-briefly for coffee and kolaches as I was finishing up my now infamous (at least to me) Tour du Texas…and we met at a place I wish I’d discovered much sooner, Bolsa Mercado in Oak Cliff.
Yes, yes, I know. It’s trendy, our little once-maligned Oak Cliff, and that alone was a reason for me not to go there. Kim said they had great kolaches, and I figured if Kim liked them, they had to be good, even though I was a bit lukewarm on these oft far too doughy Czech pastries. I just wasn’t convinced that they were worth the hoo-ha.
Or the calories.
But being almost sisters, she waited for me, and split her ham and apple butter one with me, which turned out to be Bolsa’s last one that morning (a not-uncommon occurrence, I found out the next day). The dough was sweet, soft and buttery; the apple butter with the ever-so-slightly salty ham struck a perfect chord. As we chatted and ate – not one but two kolaches (the other was a cherry basil) – we realized we had lots more in common, too.
Time flew, kolaches disappeared, and we promised to get together on another trip, when I’d have more time (will I ever?). And so it went.
Then I went back the next day, and the day after that, too, and I just kept on going back till there were no more days left and I had to hop a plane for Paris.
But not before I wrangled the owner, Chris Zeilke, and the pastry chef, Lauren Leone, and begged her to share her kolache recipe. I figured I could start a whole new trend in Paris.
Plus I thought all of y’all might like to make some, too.
Till next time, everyone – let’s all do the kolache. I’m thinking of making pear butter when the fall pears arrive at the market, which will be soon. What will you fill yours with? Mwah haha!
Bolsa Mercado’s Ham and Apple Butter Kolaches
Makes 2 dozen
- 3 tablespoons of yeast
- ½ cup of warm water
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 cups of milk
- 5 ounces/1 ¼ stick of butter, plus a bit more for brushing over the kolaches
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- 2 egg yolks
- ⅓ cup of sugar
- 6 cups of bread flour
- 12 ounces of apple butter (see note)
- 24 slices of ham
- 1 pound of shredded cheese (fontina or manchego)
1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in your mixer bowl. Now add the sugar to the yeast-water mixture and let this sit for about 10 minutes or until it’s foamy.
2. Heat milk and butter in a saucepan over low heat. When the butter melts — you don’t want this to get too warm — remove this from the heat and whisk in the salt, egg yolks, and sugar. Now add this to the yeast mixture in the bowl and combine.
3. Add your bread flour to the bowl and using the dough hook, mix until it’s smooth and only slightly sticky. It’ll take about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl and brush butter all over the top of the dough, too. Let this proof in a warm, dry area till it doubles in size — this’ll take about an hour.
4. Cut the dough into 3-ounce pieces, roll into balls and place on parchment paper. Brush a little butter on the top of each dough ball.
5. Press the dough into flat circles with the bottom of a glass. Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons of apple butter in the middle of the dough and place a slice of ham and about 1 tablespoon of cheese on top. Fold over the dough and pinch the edges together. Brush the dough with a bit more melted butter and let the kolaches proof for 30 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
7. Bake the kolaches for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Brush them with a bit more (!!) melted butter. Eat immediately!
Here’s what Lauren says about her apple butter: “I don’t have an official recipe for the apple butter, but it’s 5 peeled and sliced apples, 4 ounces of butter, a pinch of cinnamon and salt to taste cooked down till the apple breaks down. Then you strain the butter.”
To make sweet kolaches: After you make the flat circles (#5), Lauren says to do this: “Press a wide hole so there’s a 1/4-inch rim of dough, and fill the center with 1 tablespoon of the jam filling and dollop with cream cheese. My cream cheese filling is made from 1 pound of cream cheese, I egg, and 1 cup of sugar whipped until smooth and fluffy.”