As a kid growing up in East Texas, one of my family’s favorite traditions was making a run to our local donut shop. On those lazy Saturday mornings, there was nothing like indulging in a dozen donut holes, a bear claw, an éclair, or our family favorite, the Kolache.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a “Kolache” in Texas, you’re familiar with that warm doughy bread and hot sausage and savory cheese center. Some people even like them with jalapenos.
We can all agree, there is just nothing quite like it! But how did this Texas pastry end up with a name like “Kolache”? Come to find out, this modern morning pastry resembles nothing to its Czech heritage and Texas original roots as a sweet and fruity dessert.
Central Texas and the Czech Culture
In 2011, some changes in my career brought me to a small Central Texas town named Belton. Home of University of Mary Hardin Baylor, the world-famous Fourth of July Parade, and even the hometown of George Eads (Nick from Las Vegas CSI).
I quickly learned of the region’s Czech heritage by noticing businesses I frequented with storefront family names such as “Talasek”. The Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center in Temple, Texas also gave me insight into the rich Czech history that makes up a portion of Central Texas.
One morning, I showed up at my new place of work with some fresh goodies from the local donut shop. I let my coworkers know that there were some “Kolaches” and donuts in the breakroom for them to enjoy.
Upon entering the breakroom with questionable looks on their faces, they looked down at the table of pastries and quickly educated me on what a “real” Kolache was, here in Central Texas.
The true name for what I had always known as “Kolache” was actually a “Klobasnek”, a pastry recipe that traveled with Moravian immigrants from Moravia (a region of the Czech Republic), to Texas. The Klobasnek pastry was actually first baked and served in Texas by Moravian immigrants.
I learned that to confuse the two types of sweet and savory pastries was a big no-no in this region of Texas, so I quickly learned to decipher the two types pretty fast! How to tell the difference between a Kolache and a Klobasnek?
A true kolache is a sweet pastry that is surrounded by puffy spun dough. The “filling” is often cream cheese (my favorite), different flavors of fruit jams, and poppy seeds mixed with powidl.
A klobasnek is a savory meat pastry, similar to a sausage roll, but the meat is wrapped in the same dough as a kolache.
A Central Texas Tradition
Many locally-owned family-run shops still make homemade, true-to-their-Texas-roots, Kolaches throughout the state. These four rank the highest in my book, not in any specific order (My all-time favorite combo is a cold Dr. Pepper and a Pepperoni Kolache from Czech Stop in West!) :
You can find amazing kolaches all throughout Central Texas. As you can tell from my all-star list above, the small interstate town of West, Texas, is by far the most concentrated grouping of great shops serving up homemade treats. People travel from all around the country for a chance to try the World Famous pastries in West, Texas.
All of the shops listed above are still family-owned and operated and have been for many years, keeping the tradition of the Czech Heritage and the true kolache alive for many generations.
So if you are ever traveling through Central Texas and have a hankering for a Texas original treat and a hot cup of coffee (hopefully in a Texas Original Coffee Mug), stop in to support a local, family-owned business by picking up some true Kolaches and Klobasniky (plural for Klobasnek) for breakfast or lunch.