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Comfort Food: Kolaches

Written by June Naylor.

Of the many treasures bequeathed to Texas by European settlers who began arriving more than 200 years ago, perhaps the single most beloved is the kolache.

Village Bakery, West (Photo by Kevin Stillman)

A pastry handed down by Czech immigrants, the pillow-like baked jewel comes in both sweet and savory varieties. Essentially a fluffy yeast roll, kolaches bear a thumb-size impression on top that’s filled with sweetened cream cheese or stewed fruits like apple, peach, apricot, berries, or prunes. The meat varieties, which are often called klobasnikys or pig-in-a-blanket, are normally wrapped around peppery pork and beef sausage—with options for enhancements like jalapeños, cheese, or sauerkraut. The kolache’s popularity is such that travelers plan road-trip itineraries specifically to include stops at kolache bakeries. Of the five places cited by readers, you’re most fond of those in relatively easy reach of Houston, San Antonio, and Waco.

1

 Susie’s Bakery, Weimar

Although known for wedding cakes, Susie’s produces a host of impressive kolaches in a town rich in Czech and German heritage. Among specialties is an oversized kolache that looks somewhat like a sweet pizza, ringed with a puffy rim. Favorite choices include the poppy seed, cheese, and apricot varieties. The ones called pigs in blankets are those with pastry surrounding sausage. We say, get the fruit variety for breakfast and take a few of the sausage to-go for lunch. If you want to just hang out and enjoy kolaches at your leisure, grab a booth and a cup of coffee and stay a while. Note that it’s not uncommon for Susie’s to sell out by late morning, however.

2

 Czech Stop, West

The lines wrapping around grocery shelves in this convenience store along Interstate 35, about 20 miles north of Waco, should tell you something. The time-tested store, founded in 1983, is open 24 hours a day, often selling hundreds of kolaches every hour baked by the adjacent bakery, called the Little Czech Bakery. From a few dozen varieties, some of the favorites are the klobasnikys stuffed with jalapeño sausage and cheese, and from the fruit selection, very berry cream cheese and apricot kolaches.

 3The Village Bakery, West

Driving into the little old downtown of West, across the railroad tracks, you find this 1952 bakery with a few tables for seating and a regular gathering of coffee-sipping locals. Pick up a half-dozen klobasnikys (stuffed with locally made sausage) and another half-dozen of the prune, apricot, and poppy seed. The Village Bakery, West: Driving into the little old downtown of West, across the railroad tracks, you find this 1952 bakery with a few tables for seating and a regular gathering of coffee-sipping locals. Pick up a half-dozen klobasnikys (stuffed with locally made sausage) and another half-dozen of the prune, apricot, and poppy seed.

4

Hruska’s Store & Bakery, Ellinger

Found deep in the European-settled countryside between La Grange and Columbus, Hruska’s is home to a bakery with 1912 roots as a general store. Kolaches became a mainstay in 1962, and today’s clientele find 16 varieties of kolaches and 11 varieties of klobasnikys (using sausage made in-house and at Eckermann’s Meat Market in Shelby) baked on-site using the recipe handed down through generations of family ownership.

5 B-Jo’s Czech Bakery at Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse, El Campo

Sitting in this coastal prairie town between Victoria and Sugar Land, Prasek’s is a smokehouse, meat market, and convenience store housing B-Jo’s Czech Bakery. B-Jo’s offers more than a dozen kolache varieties, with dewberry, pineapple, and lemon among the standouts. Reader Mike Loughman of Rockport is a fan, noting the “authentic Czech recipe [using] the best-quality ingredients.”

Please choose a category below to explore the top five as they are revealed!

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