Sourdough kolaches are the ultimate breakfast treat. With a heavenly combination of enriched pastry dough, thanks to the egg yolks and butter, and a luscious fruit filling, these sourdough kolaches are a true delight. Made using 100% natural yeast, they offer a unique twist on the classic recipe, perfect for elevating your morning routine or enjoying a leisurely weekend brunch. Unleash your inner baker with this easy sourdough kolache recipe and make these delicious pastries in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Ingredients in Sourdough Kolache
Milk: Whole milk makes these rolls decadently delicious, but 2% milk works in a pinch. Warm the milk before adding to the stand mixer.
Egg Yolks: Kolache dough is enriched with a whole lot of egg yolks. It makes this pastry unlike any other, with its delicious richness and the golden color it adds to the dough. You can save the egg whites to use as a filling for klobasnek.
Unsalted Butter: I always bake with unsalted butter. It allows me to control the flavor in my baked goods — there is no standard for the amount of salt used in salted butter, so you cannot predict how much salt has been added.
Sugar: Granulated sugar brings the perfect sweetness to these sourdough kolache.
Bread Flour: I almost always use bread flour for any bread that I am kneading. The higher protein content and properly activating the gluten result in a lighter/springy baked good.
Cream Cheese Filling: Mix up the perfect sweet cream cheese filling to pipe around the kolache.
Fruit Filling: I use a favorite homemade jam or I make my own fruit filling with fresh berries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice.
Sample Sourdough Schedule for Sourdough Kolache
A sample baking schedule helps me when baking with sourdough. Sourdough takes much longer to rise than traditional bread. This schedule helps me plan my bake.
A few notes: This schedule assumes the dough temperature will be maintained at 78 degrees F throughout the process. If you’d like to make the best sourdough kolache all on the same day, skip the cold bulk fermentation and go straight to shaping the kolaches (you will still need to make the levain the night before and let it rise overnight).
|8:00PM – 8:00AM||Make Stiff Sweet Levain. Let rise overnight.|
|Day 2||Mixing/Bulk Fermentation/Cold Ferment|
|8:00 AM||Mix Dough|
|8:15 AM||Begin Bulk Fermentation (Dough Temperature: 78-80 degrees F)|
|12:15 PM||End Bulk Fermentation|
Option 1: Refrigerate the dough for 12-24 hours and shape rolls the next morning
Option 2: Shape rolls and continue with the recipe
|12:15PM – 7:00AM||Cold Bulk Fermentation|
|7:00 AM||Shape dough into rolls|
|11:00 AM||Rise in a warm (78-80+ degree F) place for 3-4 hours until puffed up, aerated and risen. Do not fill and bake unless dough has puffed up and risen. Press down on each ball of dough and fill with fillings.|
|11:30 AM||Bake and enjoy!|
What is a Kolache?
Traditionally, Kolache has its origins in the Czech Republic. I lived there as a child and my Czech Babicka would make kolach which I inhaled as a kid. Kolach is basically a pastry that holds fruit surrounded by puffy dough. My Babicka would cut her Kolach into slices with a plum filling and a streusel topping. It was my favorite Czech pastry and I have many fond memories of this delicious treat. These kolaches have been “Americanized” and are similar to the kolaches you will find at bakeries in Texas. Delicious, enriched dough filled with cream cheese and jam — the perfect breakfast pastry!
Making a Sweet Stiff Levain
One of the reasons I advocate for making a levain instead of using straight sourdough starter is in cases like these sourdough kolaches (or these sourdough cinnamon rolls). Maintaining a sourdough starter at 100% hydration makes it easy for me to create a stiff sweet levain when I need it for an enriched dough. I also use a stiff sweet levain for enriched breads like this cinnamon sugar babka. A stiff levain is a levain that mixes up to a firm consistency and is anywhere from 50%-65% hydration. It adds elasticity to dough and helps temper the acid in the sourdough, which gives all the benefit of sourdough fermentation without the tang. The sugar in the levain helps counteract the acidity and creates a more mild flavor. My sometimes picky kids are especially grateful for this! To make a stiff sweet levain:
- Use 100% hydration sourdough starter at its peak
- Add 20 grams of ripe sourdough starter to 100 grams of all purpose flour, 50 grams of water and 20 grams of sugar. Mix together.
- A stiff starter will be a little more difficult to mix together, because it forms a dough ball instead of a batter. Knead the ball of dough a few times until smooth.
- Place the stiff sweet levain in a liquid measuring cup and set in a warm (76-78 degree F) spot for 12 hours.
- Stiff sweet levain is ready to use when it has doubled in size and has a rounded top. Using it right when it reaches its peak will help decrease the acidity in the dough.
Mixing the Dough
I use a Bosch or KitchenAid mixer to mix this dough. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use your hands, though it will take much longer due to the amount of egg yolks and butter in this dough. Add the stiff sweet levain, milk, granulated sugar, egg yolks, melted butter (not too hot), salt and bread flour to the stand mixer. Mix the dough on low speed for about 3-5 minutes. The amount of egg and butter in this dough makes the dough a little on the stickier side. Continue kneading for 5-10 more minutes at a higher speed (if you have a KitchenAid, be careful not to burn out your motor) until the dough is smooth, elastic and shiny. Ideally the dough will pass the windowpane test. Place in a container or bowl for bulk fermentation.
Bulk fermentation is the name for when the dough ferments as a big unshaped mass. Put the dough in a container and cover it (I like using these shower caps as covers). The entire bulk fermentation should take about 4-5 hours at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Take the temperature of the dough, it should be between 76-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dough is significantly colder, bulk fermentation will take longer. If it’s warmer, the bulk fermentation will be a bit shorter, however wild yeast perform best in the 76-78 degree F range, so do your best to keep the dough in that range. I use a dough proofer or the inside of my oven with the light turned on (don’t turn the oven on!) to keep my dough warm. Let the dough sit for 4 hours in that warm place. By the end of 4 hours it should have puffed up, be smooth and risen a little.
After the initial 4-5 hour bulk fermentation is finished, my favorite way to make sourdough kolache is to put the covered container in the refrigerator overnight or for a few hours to chill the dough. This allows me to shape the rolls the following morning and we can enjoy the best sourdough kolache the next morning. I also think this step improves the flavor of the kolache. If you want to make them all in the same day, that works too. Just skip the cold bulk fermentation and proceed with the rest of the recipe (you will still need to make the levain the night before and let it rise overnight). The kolache dough can stay in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before using. When you’re ready to shape the rolls, pull the dough out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for a few minutes while you prepare parchment paper on the baking sheet.
Shaping and Proofing Sourdough Kolache Dough
After the cold fermentation, it’s time to shape the kolache. Separate the dough into 24 pieces, about 85 grams each. Take each piece of dough and pull/pinch up the sides until it forms a ball. Roll the ball on the counter, holding your hand in a cupping shape (see video here) to seal the balls and create tension. Place the balls on the baking sheet, fitting 12 to each pan. Cover the dough balls and let them rise until puffed up, aerated and just about doubled in size. With chilled dough this can take 3-4 hours if the dough is kept at 78-80 degrees F. If your dough is kept in a cooler location it will take longer.
Filling Sourdough Kolache
While the kolache rise, mix up the fillings for your kolache. Use a hand mixer to whip together the cream cheese mixture and put the creamy filling in a piping bag. Add your jam to a piping bag or alternatively you can spoon it into the center of the kolache. Once the kolache have risen, take the bottom of a jar or a measuring cup (I’ve found a 16 ounce Ball canning jar to work well) and press down in the center of each kolache. The sides will rise up a bit and it will form an indentation for you to put the filling in. Pipe a circle of cream cheese filling along the outer edges of dough. Fill the center of the dough with jam.
Fruit Filling Recipe: Blend or mash 2 cups of strawberries (or other berries). Add them to a saucepan on the stove and over medium to medium-low heat, simmer the berries with ½ cup sugar, 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, a pinch of salt, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice until thickened and jam-like (about 15-20 minutes). Cool in the fridge before using.
Baking Sourdough Kolache
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Brush egg wash on the edges of the kolache and then place in the oven to bake for 18-20 minutes. Kolache will puff up and bubble a little bit, this is normal. Let the pastries cool just a little bit and serve while warm. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I store leftover sourdough kolache?
These sourdough kolaches are made with a cream cheese filling. Because of that, they shouldn’t stay at room temperature very long. Store in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then freeze.
My sourdough kolache didn’t rise very much. Is that normal?
The dough was probably underproved. Sourdough kolaches should rise and puff up in the oven creating a delicious, soft pastry. Let the dough balls rise longer next time before shaping and filling.
I want to make a filled/stuffed kolache. Can I do that with this dough?
Yes! This makes delicious filled breakfast pastries. See my recipe for them and how I make them in this homemade kolache recipe
The filling oozed everywhere. Why?
It’s typical for this filling to ooze a little bit, but if you notice its excessive, it could be that your dough was underproved. Let the dough balls rise a little longer before filling next time. You can also adjust the amount of filling if needed.
Looking for a Kolache Recipe with Instant Yeast?
Stiff Sweet Levain (1:5:5, ready in about 10-12 hours at 78 degrees F)
- 20 grams ripe and active sourdough starter
- 20 grams granulated sugar
- 100 grams all purpose flour
- 50 grams water
Sourdough Kolache Dough
- 190 grams stiff sweet levain
- 430 grams whole milk, warmed can sub 2% milk
- 115 grams granulated sugar about 1/2 cup
- 6 large egg yolks about 130 grams
- 226 grams unsalted butter melted
- 16 grams salt
- 1000 grams bread flour 12.5% protein content
Cream Cheese Filling
- 226 grams cream cheese about 8 oz
- 60 grams powdered sugar about 1/2 cup
- 1 egg yolk about 21 grams
- 9 grams all purpose flour about 1 Tablespoon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract about 1 gram
- 200 grams favorite jam about 1/2-3/4 cup, see recipe note
Sweet Stiff Levain (12 hours/overnight at 78 degrees F)
- Mix together ripe sourdough starter, all purpose flour, granulated sugar and water. Knead the levain until it forms a cohesive ball. Set in a liquid measuring cup and cover for 12 hours until the levain has doubled in size and the top is rounded.
- Warm the milk in the microwave (about 1 1/2 minutes full power) or on the stove. It should be around 90-100 degrees F, no warmer. To the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the ripe levain, warmed milk, granulated sugar, melted butter, egg yolks, salt and bread flour.
- Turn on the dough hook and knead for 10-15 minutes. The dough will be sticky but smooth and shiny. It should pass the windowpane test.
- Bulk Fermentation: Put the dough in a container and cover. Set the dough in a warm, 76-80 degree F place for 4-5 hours. Take the temperature of the dough as needed to maintain temperature right around 78 degrees F. This temperature is optimal for fermentation. At the end of about 4 hours, the dough should be puffed up and feel very elastic. If it doesn't feel this way, let it bulk ferment for another half hour and check again
- Cold Bulk Fermentation: Place the covered dough in the refrigerator overnight or up to 48 hours. This gives more flavor to the dough and makes the dough easier to handle when shaping.
- Shape and Proof: Dump the dough out onto a (clean) countertop. Cut the dough into 24 equal pieces, about 85 grams each. Take each piece of dough and pull/pinch up the sides until it forms a ball. Roll the ball on the counter using your hand in a cupping shape (see video here) to seal the balls and create tension for the roll to rise.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place dough balls on the baking sheet, 12 to a pan. Cover the dough and let the buns rise for 3-4 hours. I like to set my covered dough in my oven with the light turned on. This keeps the buns in a warm (78-80 degree F) environment to rise.
- You will know the kolache dough has risen when the dough balls are puffed up and feel light and airy. The dough will not be hard or stiff. When you push in on the dough, it will leave a small indentation while springing back just a little bit. If the dough springs back completely and the dough feels hard or compact, let it rise another half hour and check on it again. You may need to warm up the dough if it doesn't seem to be rising much.
- Mix Up Cream Cheese Filling: Using a hand mixer, whip together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg yolk, flour and vanilla extract. Whip until completely incorporated and thick and creamy, about 3 minutes. Stick a piping bag (or ziplock works too) into a glass and fold the edges over the glass. Transfer the cream cheese mixture to the piping bag.
- Prepare Jam: Prepare your favorite jams for the fillings. Put them in piping bags or spoon them into the center of the dough. A recipe for scratch-made fruit filling is in the post of this recipe.
- Shape and Fill: Once the dough is puffy, risen and aerated, use the bottom of a 16 oz canning jar (or a 1/4 cup measuring cup) and press down firmly on top of each ball of risen dough, forming a large circle indentation with higher sides. Using your piping bag, fill each kolache with a ring of cream cheese around the edges. Place a teaspoon or two of jam in the center of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat with all 24 kolache.
- Bake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly whisk an egg with a teaspoon of water and brush the egg wash on the sides of each kolache. Bake for about 18 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly. Enjoy warm!