Genealogy & Family History through Recipes: Lucky and Unlucky plus Vícha Style Kolache Recipe
One of my favorite aspects of genealogy and family history is continuing to prepare, cook, and serve old, family-favorite recipes from past generations.
As I think every genealogy fan will agree, there is something very special about opening a cookbook and finding a family recipe neatly (or not so neatly) written in the hand of one of our ancestors. I know my wife treasures those written by her mother and grandmother as do I.
Unfortunately in my family not all the recipes were handed down. My paternal grandmother made world-beating pasty! However when my mother asked for the recipe she was told “Sorry, you will never be a good enough cook for me to share my recipe with you.” True to her word, my grandmother Phillips took her fabulous pasty recipe to her grave with her. Likewise my wife’s paternal grandmother’s fabulous Italian bread recipe, my maternal grandmother’s anise cookie recipe, and more than a few more. Gone forever. Sigh.
Luckily this was not the case with the majority of the family recipes of my wife’s Italian family and also many from my maternal side of my family, which was Czech.
While I love all kinds of cooking and all kinds of foods (hey, I even eat my mother’s not-so-famous baloney and raw onions) there is one family favorite that is a bit nearer and dearer to my heart than many others. It is the following.
One of my favorite family recipes is for ‘thingies’. What are ‘thingies’ you might be asking? I am not surprised! You see when I was a youngster my Czech grandmother made a wonderful dessert for special occasions. Her family, the Vícha family, came from southern Bohemian and the village of Milevsko. She had a Czech name for these desserts, but as young children we could never pronounce it. She finally got so frustrated with us she told us to just called those marvelous and mouthwatering desserts ‘thingies’. Some were filled with prune, some with poppy seed, and some (my personal favorite) were filled with apricot. If time was short they would be topped with a dusting of powder sugar and if time was available, then they would get icing. Talk about gilding a lily!
Well, believe it or not, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I came to realize ‘thingies’ were actually the Czech food icon, kolache!
I know my Czech grandmother would not only be proud of my work in Czech genealogy, but she would also be proud if I shared her recipe. No matter what kind of baker you might be, I know she would smile at you just trying! So here you go:
Kolache (Vícha style)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1 cup Crisco
2 ½ cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
Work these together as for pie crust. Cut the Crisco into the flour with 2 knives or pastry blender.
Heat, but do not boil:
¾ cup of whole milk
1 ½ tablespoons of sugar
Add 1 package of yeast
Let rise in a draft-free location for 10 minutes or so. Mixture will be a little bubbly.
2 egg yolks
Add eggs to raised milk
Mix with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until creamy and not sticky
Add flour with salt and Crisco
Divide dough into small balls and set at top of pastry cloth
One by one, pat a ball of dough so it is flat and round (about 2 to 2 ½ inches in diameter)
Put a teaspoon of Solo fruit filling (apricot, poppy seed, or prune) in center of circle.
Fold the left edge to hold down the right edge
Fold the right edge slightly over the left edge. Pat together so dough stays closed.
Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes
Cool thoroughly on a cooling rack.
Dust with powdered sugar or put a little icing on made with powdered sugar and condensed milk.
There you have it! Awesome, Vícha-style kolache!
The exact kind I had as a kid. My favorite? It was almost a tie between apricot and poppy seed, but I have to say apricot came out on top by a smidgeon. Plus when my grandmother iced them rather than using powdered sugar I was in HEAVEN! The apricot disappeared first. Then the poppy seed. Then the prune. Then came the begging for my grandmother to bake more!
I hope you enjoy them as much as I always do!
Next up, I will bring you some newer family favorites from when my wife and family were featured in Better Homes & Gardens magazine for my wife’s awesome Sunday Brunch!
Cheers from Onward To Our Past®