Why Kolaches Are So Popular
In Texas
By Cynthia Anaya
Kolaches (pronounced koh-LAH-cheez) are made with a delectable, airy yeast dough that is shaped and baked into squares. The Texas favorites, which are baked instead of fried, are called “healthy donuts” by East Texas Weekend and are usually filled with some kind of fruit jelly, but newer varieties can include fillings like sausage.
In the late 1800s, immigrants from the Czech Republic established communities in Central Texas, bringing items from their homeland, including kolaches. Texas Highways claims the 19th-century wave of Czech immigrants in Texas consisted of about 700 people, but by the early 1910s, 15,000 foreign-born Czechs resided in the state.
To honor their heritage, they held festivals like the Kolache Festival in the city of Caldwell, which is still celebrated today, leading to a Czech man named Wendel Montgomery opening the first Texas kolache bakery, The Village Bakery, in 1952. Montgomery's shop gave travelers unfamiliar with the pastry a public place to buy them.
Over the next few decades, more kolache bakeries popped up in Texas, including Kolache Factory, the world's largest seller of kolaches, says the Houston Chronicle. The original versions of these tasty pastries consisted of poppy seed, apricot, or farmer's cheese, but today, you can find all kinds of kolaches, including the savory spinoff called the “klobasniki,” which has meat as a filling.