Slovak Kolache (Nut Rolls)





Introduction: Slovak Kolache (Nut Rolls)

Kolache, or nut rolls, have been a Christmas and Easter favorite in my family for at least 5 generations. My great-grandmother brought the basic recipe with her from the former Czechoslovakia, now the Slovak Republic, in the early 1900s. The sweet rolls can be filled with ground walnuts, poppyseed, or fruit preserves, such as apricot, raspberry, cherry, and pineapple. My mother started using this small red nut grinder in the 1950s - I only use it to make these special holiday rolls, but keep it on my kitchen shelf where I see it everyday.

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

You need these ingredients to make the Kolache dough:

  • 1 lb. butter
  • 1 lb. cream cheese
  • 1 lb. flour

And these ingredients for the ground walnut filling:

  • 1 lb. ground walnuts
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

This recipe makes 4 large kolache or about 8 dozen small 2-inch square rolls. For fruit filling, some of our favorites are apricot, pineapple, raspberry and cherry.

Step 2: Making the Dough

Soften the butter and cream cheese by taking it out of the refrigerator for about 15 minutes while you collect all of the other ingredients and baking supplies. Mix 1 pound butter and 1 pound cream cheese with electric mixer until creamy. Slowly add 1 pound of flour. Divide into 4 sections and refrigerate overnight in a covered container.

Step 3: ​Making Ground Walnut Filling

Here's what you need for the nut filling:

  • 1 pound ground walnuts
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, stir milk and sugar until sugar dissolves, cooking over medium heat. Then add 1 teaspoon butter, stirring often and cook until it boils. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and add the ground walnuts.

Step 4: The Fun Part - Rolling and Filling Dough

This always has been the fun part of making these rolls. Roll the dough on a surface that has been dusted with powdered sugar (I also mixed in a small amount of granulated sugar before rolling the dough).

Dough can be rolled in an oblong shape and the walnut or fruit filling spread evenly, within a 1/2 inch or so of the edge. If the filling is too close to the edge of the dough, it will overflow when the dough is rolled. If this happens, just scrape off the excess filling. Roll like a jelly roll, starting on one of the long sides. Place the seam of the dough on the bottom when baking, which prevents the roll from expanding and the dough separating as it bakes.

The dough also can be cut into 2 inch squares and the filling added to the middle of the square. Squares can be rolled (again, placing the seam side down on the baking sheet) or 2 corners pinched together in the middle.

Step 5: Bake and Enjoy!

Bake 350 degrees F, about 10 minutes on greased baking sheet. Bake until rolls are golden brown, being careful the bottom of the rolls aren't burning. The filling may overflow onto the baking sheet while baking if too much was added or it was spread too close to the edge of the dough.

Melted butter can be brushed on the top of each of the long rolls before baking if you want the dough to be slightly more crisp.

Kolache are delicious anytime -- perfect with a morning cup of coffee, after dinner, as a sweet grab & go treat or midnight snack, and for sharing as a homemade gift!



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    14 Discussions

    Kolaches like my mon made. We are all Slovaks from both sides and my mom made them every Christmas until she passed away in 2009 at 88. She left the recipe in her cookbook but my brother lost it. I do remember her using sour cream though but I don't know if it was in place of cream cheese or not. My wife made these and they were excellent.


    2 years ago

    One extra helpful note - kolache can be frozen and kept for a later date. Just be sure to wrap them completely (I use one layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and then sealed in an air-tight large ziploc bag.


    2 years ago

    These look delicious! I'd love to have one with coffee this morning. What a neat family tradition :-)

    1 reply

    I agree, acoens, as I have been sampling these with morning coffee since I made them. I just hope there are enough left to share with family and friends during the holidays. I might need to make another batch of them! ;-)

    Ethnic treats tend to be way beyond the ordinary stuff pumped out by manufacturers, thanks for sharing some family history.

    1 reply

    Thanks for the wonderful comments, BeachsideHank!

    Thanks! I actually have entered 2 of the current contests - Heirloom Recipes and Homemade Gifts. Wish me luck!

    Kolache (actually koláče) is just a word meaning pies, cakes or pastry in general. The type that is a roll filled with something, usually walnuts, apples, poppy seeds or combinations of these is called "Štrúdľa" ( Shtroodla?).
    Glad to see someone share this, they are indeed good with milk, for breakfast or so. ;)

    1 reply

    Thanks for the extra information, Argyros. It seems there are a variety of ways to reference these particular nut rolls. Our Slovak families and friends called these baked goods Kolache and I also referenced a Slovak cookbook for a check on the correct spelling.

    Love the nut grinder! Haven't seen one of these in years. Similar to the one my parents had from when I was a little kid.

    1 reply

    It really is a wonderful keepsake, boxbbcar.

    Just like my great grandma from Czechoslovakia used to make!!

    1 reply

    Sounds like you have great memories of these nut rolls, too, backenforth. :-)