Simple yeast dough is family heirloom

Amanda Skiba/For the Nevada AppealAmanda Skiba's recipe for kolachi was handed down through her family from Croatia. The dough can be used to make dinner rolls, cinnamon buns or loaves of bread, or rolled out and filled with a date and nut mixture as seen here.

Amanda Skiba/For the Nevada AppealAmanda Skiba's recipe for kolachi was handed down through her family from Croatia. The dough can be used to make dinner rolls, cinnamon buns or loaves of bread, or rolled out and filled with a date and nut mixture as seen here.

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When I think about food this time of year my mind immediately thinks of baked goods. Thanksgiving it's about the savory foods, but this time of year is about treats and baking. I am fairly new to baking, but I'm beginning to really like it more than I ever thought I would.

My favorite is baking homemade breads. Breads can be challenging, but there is nothing like the warm fuzzy feeling you get when eating warm fresh bread right out of the oven, that you worked on with your own two hands. Baking with yeast can be intimidating and is somewhat of a process - waiting around for dough to rise, then rest, then sequences of folding or kneading, and then another rise and finally baking. Then hopefully it turns out! Right?

Last year I was on a mission to learn how to make homemade bread. My dad knew this so for Christmas he gave me a really cool oven bread stone and several bread books he uses (my dad likes to cook and bake as much as I do). One of the books was by Peter Reinhart, called "Artisan Breads Every Day." That January, Peter Reinhart ended up in Reno teaching a bread class. Failing horribly at his Babka recipe, I decided to jump on the opportunity to attend his class to learn a more.

Before taking this class the whole concept of baking and having to abide by the rules was intimidating. See, I cook to my own rules and make up and alter recipes comfortably - except when it comes to baking. A few things I learned from that class were 1) baking is not as strict as I once believed it to be, and 2) even Peter Reinhart deviates from his own recipe directions.

As for the Babka, Reinhart had to lower the oven temperature to cook the bread through without burning the outside. My "Aha!" moment, this is where I went wrong.

This recipe is for Kolachi. It is one of the simplest yeast doughs I have made. Whether you are new to baking or a seasoned baker you will enjoy how simple it is to make Kolachi dough. I even made this recipe all by hand - no stand mixer, which is rare for me.

Kolachi is of Slovak origin and this particular recipe has been passed down through my family, from Croatia. Two of my fondest holiday treat memories are ones that my Grandma Skiba made, Kolachi and clothespin cookies. These two treats are tastes that remind me of Christmas and have become staples to my holidays just like the Christmas tree.

Grandma Skiba was a seamstress, so I also remember all the hand made gifts she made for me. My favorite is a stocking that is completely hand embroidered from top to bottom with my name on it. I hang it up each year to remember her by.

Several years ago my aunt in Kansas began making Kolachi and clothespin cookies and sends a package to me, which I selfishly hide away and eat when my daughter is not looking. The first time my aunt sent me the package I had not tasted either of these treats in years, but once I tasted them you know how some things just trigger wonderful memories from your childhood - yea, a nostalgic experience.

Since Kolachi is not a very well known recipe and because I enjoy it so much, I wanted to share this with you. I hope you enjoy - from my family to yours.


Makes 7-8 loaves.

1 cup milk

1⁄2 cup butter

1⁄2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 large cake fresh yeast, soften in warm milk (or 3 packages of dry yeast)

3 eggs, beaten

5 cups flour

1. Heat the milk to a near boil stirring constantly. Remove the milk from the heat and stir in the butter, sugar and salt, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted. Cool to warm (80-90°F). Remember anything over 140°F will kill the active yeast.

2. Whisk in the yeast, then let sit while you get the flour ready and beat the eggs.

3. Add eggs and flour, mix well with a wooden spoon.

4. Knead the dough lightly and form into a ball.

5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rise until doubled in size (about an hour).

6. Punch down (isn't yeast dough therapeutic?) and divide into seven or eight balls about 6 ounces each.

7. Roll into rectangles.

8. Spread nut filling or date nut mixture and roll up jelly roll style, crimping the ends and slightly tucking them under to keep the filling from oozing out. Arrange three rolls to a pan. Your rolls will be about 3 inches wide and 7-10 inches long.

9. Prick with fork 2-inches apart. Let rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until brown.

Recipe Notes: If dough is too soft, knead in a little flour.

You can use this dough to make dinner rolls, cinnamon buns or bread. (I have not yet tried either of these).


Nut mixture

2 pounds shelled nuts ground. (nuts to be ground finely or they will poke through the dough).

2 cups sugar

11⁄2 cups milk (add a little at a time)

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla.

1. Grind nuts with the sugar until coarsely ground.

2. Add egg, vanilla, and milk, adding the milk a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

3. Cook on low heat to combine, then cool before spreading on dough.

Date & Nut Mixture

1 small package of dates

1⁄2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup hot water

2 teaspoon vanilla

1 pound ground nuts

1. In a sauce pan, mix dates, sugar, flour, and water and simmer 10 minutes.

2. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla

3. Mash the dates with a potato masher.

4. Add 1 pound ground nuts, cool before spreading on dough.

Notes: If mixture is too thick, add a little water.

Slice into 1-inch pieces and serve. You can wrap the loaves in press 'n seal or plastic wrap to keep. Keep stored at room temperature.

• Amanda Skiba of Dayton is a single mom of a preschooler working full-time as a paralegal in Carson City. She's passionate about cooking and posts her favorite recipes at


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