For the uninitiated, kolaches are dessert rolls with fruit or other filling; rohlicky are crescent poppy seed dinner rolls. In the area of Iowa where I spent the first 40 years of my life there are literally hundreds of different recipes for the basic dough. Through trial and error this is the recipe I came to like best and I've used it now for over 20 years. I don't live in Iowa anymore, but my family still expects to see these on the menu. The dough can also be used to shape any dinner roll you desire.
MY FAVORITE KOLACHE OR ROHLICKY DOUGH
1 cup warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 pkg. dry yeast
3/4 cup corn oil (I insist on Mazola)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 - 6 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, oil, sugar, eggs and salt. Beat in flour to make a soft dough (I use my electric mixer fitted with dough hooks). Let rise until double; punch down. Proceed with directions for kolaches, rohlicky or roll of choice. [This process of rising and punching down can be repeated several times; just be sure not to let the dough rise more than double each time. I prefer 2 or 3 risings as I believe it results in a more tender finished product, but one rising is sufficient.]
To Make Kolaches
Form dough into small balls, approximately the size of a walnut. Place on greased cookie sheet and brush with melted butter; let rise again until light. Using two fingers on each hand make an indentation in the center of each ball, pulling dough to form a ridge around the outside. Fill with approximately 1 Tablespoon of desired filling. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 375º until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush crust with melted butter.
Traditional Czech fillings are prune, apricot, cherry, pineapple, poppyseed, date, etc.
My family likes cherry best.
To Make Rohlicky
The traditional Czech way to form rohlikcy is to roll pieces of dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick. Cut circle into 8 wedges. Form each wedge into a crescent by rolling from the wide end towards the point. Place formed rolls in pan with point underneath.
I prefer to form my rolicky this way: Divide above dough into fourths. Divide each fourth into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a short, thick rope, approximately 6 inches long. Twisting the rope slightly, place in a slightly curved shape in a greased 10 X 15-inch baking pan with high sides, spacing slightly apart. You should be able to fit 2 rows of 12 rolicky in each pan.
Brush tops of rohlicky with 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water. Sprinkle generously with poppy seed. Let rise until double.
Bake at 375º until lightly browned, approximately 15-20 minutes. Brush with melted butter immediately upon removing from oven.
MY FAVORITE FILLING FOR KOLACHES
(the Czech answer to cheese strudel!)
1 lb. dry cottage cheese or ricotta
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tablspoon flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients together well. Use to fill kolaches.
The flavor improves if the mixture is allowed to set in the refrigerator overnight. Left-over filling can be frozen for future use.
I also like to use this dough to make what I call fruit braids. I just roll the dough into a rectangle however big I want, spread my choice of filling lengthwise down the center third, cut the outside edges into strips and braid across the filling. You can add icing or not. These taste just like kolaches..just more dough and less filling and much faster to make. I made several of these when I was baking for Jeff and Deb's wedding and they were gone pretty quickly.