Yes, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it, friends? I know Emilie and I have fallen far from the regular postings you used to get, but please know that we haven’t forgotten any of you. In fact, we talk, text, and e-mail about you and Cork and Spoon quite often. That is why today’s post is dedicated to all our friends/readers that have stuck with us all this time.
The last you heard from Emilie, she had moved from D.C. to Austin, TX (For the record, I’m still working on my abandonment issues…). Well, before she and Tom left, in fact while I was helping them transfer their home into a rented PODS container, Emilie and I decided that I should run a half-marathon in Austin. Since I had already planned on the “Real Girls Run” November half-marathon in Charlottesville, (injuries down the road put a stop to that) and because Emilie wouldn’t have accrued annual leave before Christmas, we found the perfect sweet spot: the Austin Marathon and Half-marathon, which takes place in February.
Now fast forward to New Years 2015.
I find out that after hearing I was coming to Austin and running a race, another dear friend of ours, Gill, was coming to Austin, too. Yay, reunion time! It had been years since the three of us were in the same place at the same time. As we started coordinating our itineraries, Emilie sent Gill and I the following:
Tuesday: Ruth arrives around 8 PM
Wednesday: Gill arrives around 4 PM
Sunday: Ruth runs a marathon while Gill and I eat kolaches and cheer her on.
Yay, fun! Hey, wait. “What’s a kolache?” Neither Gil nor I had heard of such a thing before.
Emilie responded with this article from the NY Times. It is a Czech, yeasted sweet bread filled with deliciousness like fruit, sweetened cheese, or sausage. Due to a large amount of Czech immigrants that settled in Texas during the 19th century, these dollops of yumminess have become part of the Texan culinary culture. Now that I was more informed about kolaches, I reminded the girls that I needed to begin refueling around mile 5 or 6 and hinted at how cool it would be for them to toss me a kolache as I ran by them. (Don’t you agree?)
After a fun filled couple of days of hunting down BBQ, tasting Texas wines, exploring the faceted city of Austin, enjoying Deep Eddy cocktails, and eating lots of bacon (Tom kept it comin’!), tacos, and avocados, race day finally arrived. In the dark early hours, Tom graciously drove me downtown and dropped me off while the girls got in an extra couple of hours of sleep. I walked up and down Congress Ave between the State Capital and the starting line at 2nd St. thinking of how lucky I was to have friends who would get up this early or travel half way across the country to cheer me on. I told my injured IT band that we could not disappoint them now.
Em, Gill, and Tom actually made it to three different points along the course, which took me by total surprise. If you have ever run a long distance race, you know how much energy seeing your friends/family can pull out of you (Right, Sue?). Emilie and I also learned about the SNL, “More cowbell!” skit from Gill, because Em had bought a cowbell to clang and cheer with for race day. (Hey, we’re not the only ones. I shouted “More cowbell!” at some spectators at a recent race…I don’t think they understood, but they did clang louder!).
Sadly, there were no kolaches for me on the course. When Emilie accompanied me up the big hill at mile 12, I asked where my kolache was. She told me to keep running up the hill. Waaaah, I’m not done yet?
Then there was the finish line. Yay! I crossed right at my goal time. Double yay!
Emilie, Gill, and Tom found me at our pre-determined meeting point. Between great jobs and proud of yous, Gill mentioned they had had kolaches for breakfast. Before my face fell too much, she also mentioned mine were waiting for me in the car. Now how about a triple, yay!
Now the kolache recipe I am sharing with you today is a “clean eating” version. More about that in another post, but basically it’s a style of eating that keeps processed and artificial foods to a minimum. For example, the typical sweet dough is made with all-purpose flour and granulated sugar. I swapped these ingredients out for white whole wheat flour and sucanat. For the blueberry filling, I swapped the sugar for honey.
As you probably know, working with whole wheat flour, even the finer white whole wheat kind, can be tricky business. Whole wheat bread tends to be denser than bread made with its airier all-purpose cousin. While the kolaches I had in Austin had a tender, pastry-like texture, these whole wheat versions are denser and more like a breakfast biscuit than a pastry.
Feel free to use whichever flour you like, both versions taste delicious and will compliment your morning coffee or tea quite nicely.
Whole Wheat Blueberry Kolaches
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 4 3/4 cups whole wheat flower
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup sucanat (may substitute granulated sugar)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- Egg Wash (beat 1 egg with 2 tablespoons heavy cream or buttermilk)
- ¼ cup raw honey
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch or tapioca starch
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups blueberries
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sucanat in ¼ cup of milk.
- Allow yeast to bloom, about 10 minutes.
- Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine yeast mixture with the remaining milk and sugar along with the butter, eggs, and salt.
- Turn mixer speed to low and gradually blend in 1 ½ cups of the flour.
- Change out the paddle for the dough hook attachment.
- Turn mixer speed to medium and begin kneading the dough. Gradually add remaining flour mixture.
- Once all dough ingredients are combined in the mixer bowl, knead dough for about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap.
- Allow dough to rise until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
- Punch dough down. Knead by hand briefly then divide dough in half.
- Form into balls, and let stand for 10 minutes
- Flour your work surface. Roll out one dough ball to ½ inch thick.
- Cut dough rounds using a 2½-inch cookie or biscuit cutter. Combine remaining scraps, re-rolling and cutting additional rounds. Repeat with the second dough ball.
- Place cut out rounds on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet(s) about 1 inch apart. Cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- During this final rise, prepare Blueberry Filling (instructions below).
- Pre-heat oven 400°F.
- Use your thumb or the back of a spoon to press a deep indentation into the center of each round.
- Brush kolache edges with egg wash.
- Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into the indentation.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool then store for up to three days in an airtight container.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the honey, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
- Add the blueberries and lemon juice.
- Place saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until filling comes to a low boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Set aside and let cool.