A Czech-Texan's Plea: 'Stop Calling Sausage Pastries Kolaches'

If you've eaten breakfast in Texas then you've probably heard of kolache. However, if you have not yet had the otherworldly pleasure of eating a few kolaches Texas-style, then pay close attention. You want to make sure that when you try your first one, it is an authentic piece of Czech history and not something that us Texans have simply deemed "kolach".

Katey Psencik a Czech descendent and Texan, presented her case to the readers of Austin360. And she makes a fair point, indeed. In Central Texas, there is a little Bohemia. Also known as the Texas Czech Belt, this area covers much of north-central Texas and was settled in the 1800s by immigrants from the European nations in and around the Czech Republic. Among the many things that these people brought with them was a delicious little pastry called a "kolach". These little pastries were square in shape, filled with fruit or cheese, and eaten for dessert.

Notice, nowhere is it mentioned that these were meat-filled, to-go breakfast options. Originally, kolache was filled with sweet fruits like plums and prunes. Many were even stuffed with poppy seeds. Poor peasants without access to any of these ingredients would even use a simple farmer's cheese.

Where Do Kolache with Meat Come From?

When Czech immigrants stepped onto Texas shores, however, they began experimenting with their fillings. They added cream cheese, blueberries, pineapples, nuts, cottage cheese, cherries, apricots, or whatever other sweet fruit that they had on hand. Still, no one tried to add meat to the mix.

That's because those sausage-filled pastries that you know and love were invented by Texas families of Czech heritage and the Czech pastries were called klobasniky. The Village Bakery in the town of West, Texas takes credit for this upgrade to sausage kolaches.

So, although they are delicious, these "pigs in a blanket", as the meat-stuffed rolls that are sometimes jalapeno-flavored as well are often affectionately called, are not kolaches. And in the words of Psencik, "I call upon you, people of Central Texas, to stop referring to these meat-filled delicacies as kolaches, and call them by their rightful name: Klobasniky, or klobasnek in the singular. The Czech community will thank you."

So whether you're in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, or any other corner of the Lone Star state, pay close attention to the kolache recipe to see if it's really food you think it is. Or, better yet, make your own with simple tools like a stand mixer and baking sheet and ingredients such as all-purpose flour, unsalted butter, cheddar cheese, and some fruit.

Or just head down to the donut shop and get a breakfast treat there and call it a day!

This article was first published in March 2019.

Watch: Our Top 10 Picks for the Best Kolache in Texas