Since writing my last blog I’ve been yearning to know more about the history of kolaches. Passed down from generation to generation, this simple pastry has evolved into savory treats using ingredients available based on geographic location and personal preferences.
My ancestors immigrated to Nebraska then ventured into northeast Kansas. Other Czechs traveled to Texas and then north into Oklahoma. All these states host annual festivals with kolaches often being a prominent theme.
The following legend captured by writer and photographer Katie Cantrell is one of my favorite regarding the kolache:
“Long ago, in a corner of the Austro-Hungarian Empire now known as the Czech Republic, Maminka was trying to bake bread but her daughter, Lebuse, kept interrupting her. So Maminka gave her a piece of dough to play with. Happily, Lebuse rolled and flattened her dough, added some plums from the table, and slipped her creation into the oven with the rest of the bread. When her father came in from the fields for a snack he grabbed Lebuse’s little cake, which promptly squirted him with scalding plum juice. Crazed with pain, he began hopping around the table in a circle. Lebuse, who found all this very funny, cried out, “Tatinek je do kola!” In other words: “Tatinek is making a wheel!”
And so the kolache was born with its name evolving from the Czech word “kola” meaning “wheels” or “rounds.”