Kolache: A Slovakian Walnut Roll | Bakes & Blunders
Archive,  Bread,  Family Recipes

Kolache: A Slovakian Walnut Roll

As I’ve learned, kolache is an incredibly regional dish.  In Texas, it’s a sweet roll with a hot dog or sausage in the middle.  I’ve seen others that look more like danishes. This kolache recipe is very similar to a Hungarian or Polish walnut roll, but it’s Slovak.  Whatever you call it, it’s delicious!

This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission as an Amazon Associate (or other affiliate program) from qualifying purchases. I only recommend products that I use and trust.

 

Jump to Recipe

 

Story Time

 

Every family has that recipe that is handed down through the generations and is enjoyed every year with the same enthusiasm as the previous hundred years.  Kolache is that recipe in my husband’s family.  It’s a Slovakian walnut roll that we enjoy every Christmas and Easter.  

Slices of KolacheFor years this special treat has been made by only one uncle, who happens to live inconveniently far away.  Before Ben was born, I got to “attend” a masterclass with our resident kolache expert. He’s got it down, and I didn’t have the nerve to try it solo until now.  It’s not perfect, but it did taste great!

 

 

Learning to Make Kolache Like a Pro

 

This recipe is not overly complicated.  We’re going to make a sweet enriched yeast dough and roll it up with walnuts and cinnamon sugar.  How could I not nail it?  Well, the trick is all in the roll, and that takes practice.  Give me another dozen years and I should be up to par with our current family pro.

I decided to make this in my stand mixer, but you could just as easily make this dough by hand.  Simply combine the wet ingredients in a bowl, then half of the flour. Stir until clumpy and sticky.  Now add the salt and nearly all of the remaining flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.  Turn out and knead. Boom!

 

Print Recipe

 

Active Dry vs. Instant Yeast

 

The difference between these two is the size of the yeast granules.  Active dry is larger and must be re-hydrated in warm water before using in a recipe.  Instant yeast is smaller and can be added straight into the bowl with the dry ingredients.

Slices of Kolache

The original recipe, handwritten by my husband’s grandmother, calls for active dry yeast to be re-hydrated in warm water before the rest of the ingredients are brought together.  I only had instant, so that’s what I went with.  Use what you have on hand, or what you are more familiar with.

 





 

Why Scald the Milk?

 

This is a little tidbit I learned in one of my baking classes and then read about in On Food and Cooking.  Milk contains proteins that will make it difficult for gluten to develop. Without gluten, the dough won’t be able to trap the gas produced by the yeast and you end up with a flat, dense bread.  No one wants that.

Kolache: A Slovakian Walnut Roll | Bakes & BlundersBut when we scald the milk by simply warming it up until hot, but not simmering or boiling, it breaks down those bad proteins.  However, it is very important that you let that HOT milk cool down so that you don’t kill the yeast. You can read a bit more in my Cardamom Coffee Braid post.

 

Related Reading: 10 Christmas Cookie Recipes

 

Let’s Talk Bench Scrapers

 

Who knew it was possible to have so many opinions on bench scrapers?  If you don’t already have one, get on this. I actually have three, but I use them all differently.  With this recipe, I used these flexible ones to scrape the dough out of the bowl. Then I used this heavy duty guy to divide the dough.

 

I also have one from the Dollar Tree that is perfect for cake decorating.  It’s lightweight and easy to hold, so I love using it to smooth the sides of my cakes.  And it’s only $1, so there’s no reason to not own at least one bench scraper.

 

 

Top Tips for Yeast Breads

 

Kolache: A Slovakian Walnut Roll | Bakes & Blunders

  • Make sure your liquid is between 100℉- 115℉ before you add your yeast.
  • Knead the dough until it passes the window pane test.  You should be able to gently stretch a small bit of dough until you can see light through it.
  • Is your house cold? Preheat your oven to its lowest setting while you prep the dough, then turn it off.  Let your dough rise (covered) in the warm oven.
  • Make sure to pinch the seams well and place the logs seam side down to avoid blowouts.
  • Tent with foil if the bread begins to darken too much.

 

Print Recipe

 

Bread Flour vs. All Purpose Flour

 

The original family recipe uses just all purpose flour, but I actually like to use a bit of both.  All purpose flour will give you a more tender kolache.  But bread flour adds a nice chew and more structure so that the loaves stay rounded instead of flattening out a bit.  If you use just bread flour, the rolls might end up being too chewy for kolache, but still delicious.

 

Luckily, you can’t go wrong with either flour.  Use what you have on hand and I know you’ll be pleased!  If you’re curious about the difference between the different types of flour, you can read even more in the Ingredient Glossary in the Resource Library (free for subscribers).

Slovak Word of the Day

 

Every year, we end up trying to figure out how to spell some Slovak words that we use in the family.  When I was writing up this post, one awesome uncle did some searching and got me the kolache spellings!  This walnut variety is orechovy and pronounced Or-A-Ko-Vee.  

Kolache: A Slovakian Walnut Roll | Bakes & Blunders

The poppyseed variety is called Muck-A-Vee or makovy.  That one is usually on the table as a matter of tradition.  I wanted to earn a place in the family during my first few Christmases by boldly eating an entire slice with a smile.  Now that I’ve logged over a decade, I pass and save that plate space for more cookies!  Look, makovy is not bad, but it can’t hold a candle to walnut chocolate chip cookies.  That’s all I’m sayin’.

 

Baking With Less Stress

 

As much as we all love kolache, it’s just one of those recipes that we only enjoy about twice a year.  And of course, those two times are Christmas and Easter, which means stressful kitchen days.  But it doesn’t have to be!  I made a little Celebration Meal Planner printable that’s available for free in the Resource Library.

Print it off whenever a big food day rolls around and make notes for all of your baking and cooking.  It helps me stay organized and figure out when I’m making what.  Total life saver.

 




 

Enjoy!

 

Kolache is a treasured recipe in our family, and once you try this sweet walnut roll, you’ll understand why.  The flavors of nuts, cinnamon, and sugar all wrapped in sweet bread are a guaranteed hit any day of the year. If you’d like to see more recipes like this one, follow Bakes and Blunders on Pinterest!

Slices of Kolache
Print

Kolache

This walnut roll is a treasured recipe in our family! Christmas and Easter are not complete until you've had a slice.
Pin this Recipe!
Course Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine Slovak
Keyword Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Holiday, Nuts, Side
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Resting Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes
Servings 20 slices
Calories 145kcal
Author Colleen

Ingredients

Dough

  • ¾ cup whole milk 6 fl oz
  • ¼ cup warm water 2 fl oz
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter melted (or any oil), 2 oz
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar 2 oz
  • 3- 3 ¼ cups flour bread, all-purpose or a combo of both, 13- 14 oz
  • 1 tsp salt

Walnut Filling

  • 2- 2 ½ cups ground walnuts 10 oz
  • ½- ¾ cup sugar 6 oz
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 Tbsps melted butter

Instructions

  • Place the milk in a small saucepan and scald over medium heat. Do not let the milk simmer or boil. Once scalded, remove from heat to cool to 115℉ before continuing.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine the milk, water, butter, egg, yeast, and sugar. Add most of the flour, then add the salt. Beat on a low speed for 2- 3 minutes to combine, then knead on medium- high for 5- 7 minutes.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cover with cling wrap. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Finish kneading the dough by hand until smooth and elastic.
  • Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat, and allow to rise in a warm, draft free location for about 1- 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  • After the first rise, punch the dough down and allow it to rise for another 30- 45 minutes. (This second rise is optional.)
  • Combine the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon to make the filling and set aside. If the walnuts are in large chunks, pulse in a food processor until fine/ medium- fine.
  • Punch the dough down to expel any gas, then divide into 2 equal portions. Roll into rectangles, ⅛ inch thick. Keep the portions you are not working with covered so they don’t dry out.
  • Brush the dough with melted butter and cover with the filling. Be sure to leave space along the far, long edge of the dough for when you roll it up.
  • Roll the dough lengthwise, like a jelly roll, keeping it tight. Pinch the seam and ends closed and move to a cookie sheet, seam side down. Repeat with remaining portion.
  • Allow the loaves to rise for one hour. Make sure they are covered with cling wrap to prevent the dough from drying out. Preheat the oven to 350°F for at least 30 minutes before baking.
  • Bake the loaves at 350℉ for 30- 40 minutes. If they are browning too quickly you can tent a piece of foil over them. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Notes

  • If using active dry yeast: Sprinkle yeast over the warm water and dissolve. Stir after 5 minutes, then let it completely dissolve for another 5 minutes. Then add to wet ingredients.
  • Make by hand: Add all of the wet ingredients to a bowl, then half of the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until wet and clumpy. Add the salt and nearly all of the remaining flour. Stir until the dough clears the side of the bowl. Turn out and knead until smooth, about 7- 10 minutes.
  • Makes 2 loaves.

My Favorite Products for this Recipe

Hi there! I’m Colleen, a novice baker with a passion for learning and improving my bakes… and blunders. On Bakes and Blunders, you can find all sorts of tasty recipes that range in difficulty, but most importantly, I’ll try to explain the reason behind important steps. If you know why a recipe works, you can tweak and adapt it to suit your unique tastes, and you’ll be able to reliably produce some very delicious treats. If you love baking and want to expand and grow your skills, or if you are a casual baker and just need some pointers, my blog is right up your alley! Join me on my baking journey and we’ll learn how to make more impressive recipes together.

34 Comments

  • janie driska

    I have my husband’s grandmother’s recipe for this. Your recipe looks similar. His family called this Buchta and their Kolache was sweet dough cut in 2-3″ circles topped with prune, walnuts and cinnamon OR farmer’s cheese. Then another cut out circle (with a cut out center) was placed on top and sealed. Small squares of a mixture of butter and sugar were put on top and then baked. They lived in upstate New York so that’s probably what they made in their area of Slovakia. Someday I will perfect these recipes!! Thanks, I enjoy your blog.

  • Greg

    Love nutrolls and for years have tried my late grandmother’s recipe and have never been satisfied with the results. I guess being a Slovak grandma helps. I gave up last Christmas and this year thought I would try a different recipe and came across yours and gave it a try. It’s pretty similar except the her filling was more a walnut paste and her dough was denser but love the results. Glad I tried it — it was a big success. Very tasty. Thanks for posting make this recipe available.

  • CharlotteSnyder

    I enjoyed reading your comments. I haven’t tried your recipe, but I compared it with that of my mother, who was Slovak. Her recipe includes milk and raisins, which make it thick and gooey, without spaces. It holds together well and is delicious.
    Also, I disagree with you about poppyseed, which I love, but probably because I grew up eating it every Christmas and Easter.

    • Colleen

      The milk and raisins sounds like a wonderful addition!! I think our poppyseed roll recipe needs some TLC. I love bobalki, which is dough balls tossed in honey and poppyseeds.

  • Phyllis

    Your rolls are beautiful! I have not tried your recipe…yet, but Christmas is coming soon. Our family recipe makes 6 and we do not need that many now.
    Several years ago my sisters and I visited Slovakia and dropped in on our distant relative who was making kolache for her daughter’s after school snack. She shared some with us. The filling was nutella and the dough was tender. The best kolache I have ever eaten.
    Because our grandparents came to America when they were only making poppyseed and nut kolache filling, we tend to make those varieties…..It was eye openning to see that time had marched on in Slovakia. Since then we have made cheese, sugar and cinnamon, cherry and chocolate, apricot, etc.
    I love reading the recipes and ideas that your share.

    • Colleen

      That’s so wonderful that you got to visit Slovakia and try some new flavors. Nutella would be an amazing filling! I’ve only ever had the poppyseed and the walnut varieties, but I’ve wanted to try cheese kolache for quite some time. Thanks for stopping by to check out my family’s recipe! I’m so glad you liked it 😀

      • Rob

        Comparing to various iterations on now unreadable family note cards and black books, this version looks to be simple and straightforward. Could you recommend what the yeast scaling should be for a double or 2.5 batch? I usually make 4 or 5 as gifts.

        • Colleen

          For a double batch, you just double the yeast, so two packets. I’ve never tried a 2.5 batch, but I imagine it would work with 2.5 packages of yeast. You’ll just have to measure that half packet. I want to say a packet is 2 1/4 tsps, so I’d use 2 packets and 1 heaping teaspoon of a third. You could also just double the batch and make slightly smaller loaves. You’d just have to adjust the bake time slightly. Hope that helps!

  • Peter

    5 stars
    Hi, your “ORECHOVNÍK” or “ORECHOVÝ ZÁVIN” ( Nut roll ) looks fantastic. Name for poppy seeds roll are “MAKOVNÍK” or “MAKOVÝ ZÁVIN”.
    “KOLÁČE” (kolaches) are generally name for all pastry or some baked goods in Slovakia. And it is plural. One piece is KOLÁČ ( kolach ), more pieces are KOLÁČE ( kolaches ).
    Round pastry ( sweet yeast dough) with filling on the top or inside or both in one, are “Moravian or Czech Kolaches” or another region or specific occasion name etc. ( Valašské, Klatovské puťové, Chodské, svadobné koláče, etc. )
    Happy Baking!

  • Matthew

    5 stars
    Thank You! This was so helpful in reconstructing my in-laws’ family recipe. I had a photo of the original with the ever helpful “handful of sugar” and “5-10 dekagrams butter” (nice range there…) and no baking instructions at all. And I had an altered version that had lost the milk and egg entirely and been tweaked for high altitude use to boot. I knew this should be an enriched dough so the later version was just… wrong.

    In a few more years I might be able to maks something presentable!

    • Colleen

      I’m so happy that I could help you sort out your family’s recipe! Our own handwritten copy was missing instructions too, but luckily they still remembered the missing bits.

  • Elayne

    This is not my grandma’s Kolachi.
    She called this not roll. Kolachi is a bread with potatoes in it!
    Maybe your family is from a different branch of Slovacks

    • Colleen

      Kolache can vary greatly depending on the region. I’d bet your Grandma is from a different part of Slovakia. Her version of kolache sounds super delicious though!

  • Erin

    I haven’t tried your recipe because we have our own treasured family recipe. I thought I’d pass on the secret in ours. It’s lemonnrind instead of cinnamon. It gives it a completely different spin on things. The grated rind of two whole lemons gives quite a zip to things. Yum!

  • Marj

    5 stars
    Because of my love of sweets and having to watch my cholesterol intake I modified this recipe. I used coconut oil in place of butter and soy milk instead of regular milk. They turned out delicious. Thank you for sharing!

      • Elaine

        5 stars
        Thank you for your reply. I made 4 of the nut rolls and even though I should have done only 2, they still were just like my mother’s . Besides, That gave me more to gift to others. Next time I’ll try only 2.

        • Colleen

          I’m so glad they came out like your mom’s! 4 mini loaves actually sounds like a pretty good idea. Maybe I’ll do that next year 😀

          And thank you for letting me know about my typo. So glad I was able to fix that!

  • Stacie

    5 stars
    Thank goodness your ingredients are similar to that of my great grandma! When my mother was 13 she tried to write down everything her grandma said as she was making them, but the dough portion didn’t make any sense. I truly thought I was doing the technical challenge of the Great British Baking Show!

    • Colleen

      I’m so glad this recipe was able to help you! My handwritten copies are a bit hard to read, so I was lucky to be able to ask my uncle who is in charge of kolache baking every Christmas. We don’t want to lose these precious family recipes 😀

  • Felicia

    Oh my gosh! I did not know that little secret about scalding the milk! I knew some recipes called for it and I never knew why. Also I call it either a walnut roll or walnut log lol. There’s a Christmas log and pumpkin roll I make hehe. I guess it’s all about where u are in the world lol

    • Colleen

      The scalding info was new to me too! I love learning why recipes are a certain way. It makes me feel like I’m baking with purpose instead of baking with a blindfold on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




bd4599db4f35472ff15812c293ab23d0
%d bloggers like this: