- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 2 Packages of yeast
- 1/2 Cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
- 2 Cups milk
- 1/2 Cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
- 2 Teaspoons salt
- 2 Egg yolks
- 1/2 Cup sugar
- 6 1/4 Cups flour, sifted (preferable bread flour)
- 1 1/2 Sticks of melted butter
- Poppy seed, apricot or cottage cheese filling (or all three!)
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over the yeast and dissolve in lukewarm water. Set aside to rise.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan; add the shortening to dissolve. Allow to cool to lukewarm; then add salt, slightly-beaten egg yolks, and sugar. It is only necessary to heat the milk until the shortening melts.
Combine milk-egg mixture and yeast mixture. Add flour gradually and work dough by hand or with a mixer until glossy. Keep it a little sticky, if at all possible.
About the first three cups of flour can be added in the beginning. Stir with a wooden spoon until too heavy to handle. Gather dough together with clean, floured hands, and knead. If the dough sticks to your hands or the surface, a little more flour is needed. Add flour by putting a slightly thicker coat on hands and surface. Continue to knead until the dough acquires a sheen.
Cover, place in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise until double in bulk, about 45 minutes to an hour.
After the dough has risen, punch down the dough, and lightly knead. Divide into 4 parts. Roll out one part to about 12"x6" rectangle and cut into 3"x3" pieces. Place about a heaping tablespoon of filling into each square and gather each corner in the middle, pinching well (see picture below).
Place kolaches in buttered pans, then place pans of kolache in a warm, draft free place, and allow to double in bulk again, about 45 minutes to one hour.
Place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake until golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove the kolaches from the oven and slather with melted butter (optional). Cool slightly, remove from pans, and cool on wire racks. Recipe makes 3 to 4 dozen.