These kolache (Kolaches/Koláče) are a delicious sweet vegan pastry using a light, sweet dough, filled with a poppy seed- and vegan cheesecake filling and topped with a streusel topping! This recipe is dairy-free, eggless, and can be made gluten-free and nut-free!
If you’ve stuck around my blog long enough, then you’ll probably have noticed that I love to share my vegan (and gluten-free) versions of traditional recipes from my childhood. This holiday period, I’ve already shared recipes for Zimtsterne (Cinnamon Stars), and Chocolate Salami, and now it’s the turn of this Czech kolache recipe.
My Czech grandmother and mother used to make authentic kolaches all the time (named Moravské Koláče in the Czech Republic) when I was a child. It was a treat I looked forward to every time with the light dough and sweet fillings. When the recipe was handed down to me, I couldn’t wait to get baking. Now, my kitchen smells like sweet homemade kolaches, and this recipe has to be shared!
What is a Kolache?
A kolach, or plural kolache (or kolaches), is a type of Czech filled pastry, pronounced ‘kohl-ah-chee’. Depending on where you are in the world, it takes on several spellings, including kolachi, kolace, kolacky, Koláče, etc., coming from the Czech word ‘Kolo’, which means wheel.
Kolache are a wheel-shaped pastry made up of a generous filling (the more the better) surrounded by a light, yeast dough and is a type of sweet bread (similar to doughnuts in some ways). There are several traditional fillings, including cream cheese (‘tvaroh’), plum jam, poppy seeds, etc.
While kolache originated in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the pastry is also very popular in some parts of the US, particularly the south and Texas, where there is even a ‘Texas Czech Belt,’ which came about in the late 1800s due to Czech immigrants, and is now filled with Kolache bakeries.
In a Kolache Factory, you will also find sausage and meat fillings. While many traditional fillings are still sold, new fillings have evolved, including strawberries, pineapple, cherry, etc.
For this particular recipe, I’m working with my mother’s homemade dough recipe. The recipe uses a single proof/rise rather than the traditional three (sometimes even five!). I’m then filling them with a combination of a poppy seed filling (traditionally named makový koláče or poppy seed kolacky) and vegan cheesecake filling topped with a streusel topping.
While the pastry itself isn’t traditionally gluten-free, I’ve included a gluten-free kolache recipe in the recipe notes as well! Along with several other variation options.
How To Make Kolaches?
Here are the ingredients that you will need for the yeast dough:
Step 1: Prepare the dough
Combine the warm milk (around 40C/104F) with the yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl, mix, and allow it to rest and activate for a few minutes.
In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, the rest of the sugar, and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture when it’s ready, along with the oil. Mix well with a wooden spoon, then knead with your hands for a few minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Form the kolache dough into a ball, return it to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave it to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Step 2: Prepare the fillings & streusel topping
For the poppy seed filling: Grind the poppy seeds in an electric spice/coffee grinder (or use a blender). Then place all the ingredients in a saucepan or skillet, heat, and allow it to simmer for a minute. Set aside.
For the cheesecake filling: Place all the ingredients in a small blender (or use a stick blender) and blend until the mixture is smooth and lump-free. Then, set aside.
To make the Streusel (crumble): Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl with your hands until the texture is crumbly. Then, set aside.
Step 3: Cut and shape the dough
Divide the dough into 7 pieces (40 g each) and shape them into round “cookies.”
Dust the bottom of a glass (or similar-sized measuring cup) with a little flour and then place it in the center of the round dough pieces. Apply pressure and flatten the dough in the middle, forming an edge on the outside.
Brush the dough’s edges with a little plant-based milk (mixed with a small pinch of turmeric, for color).
Step 4: Add the fillings
Spread about 2 teaspoons of both the poppy seed and cheesecake filling on each of the vegan kolaches. Then decorate with almonds (optional).
Once filled, sprinkle the pastries with the streusel crumble topping.
Step 5: Bake the kolache
Bake in the oven at 180C (350F) for 15-18 minutes. The edges should be slightly brown. Enjoy them warm!
To make ahead: You can prepare the dough a day in advance and leave it to rise overnight in the fridge. Remove it from the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before using, allowing it to further rise before continuing with the recipe. The fillings and streusel will also store well, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.
To store: Keep the baked homemade kolaches at room temperature for up to two days (they taste best when made fresh on the same day) or refrigerator for up to 4 days. They can also stay in the freezer for between 2-3 months. Allow them to thaw in the fridge before enjoying cold or reheating in the oven till warmed through.
Recipe Notes & Variations
- Sugar: For the yeast mixture, you should use 2 teaspoons of regular sugar to activate the yeast. The remaining amount for the dough can be coconut sugar, Erythritol, etc.
- For a gluten-free version: Look in the recipe card notes for the list of ingredients.
- The dough: You can, optionally, add a little orange or lemon zest to the dough. Or even a hint of spice (cinnamon, ginger, etc.)
- The streusel: Feel free to add a little vanilla powder or cinnamon if preferred.
- The Fillings: You can also fill the vegan pastry with jam/marmalade or a simple fruit compote (i.e., plum jam or apricot). Feel free to experiment with savory fillings, too; cabbage, a meat-alternative, your favorite vegan cheese, and herbs, etc.
- Make sure to press firmly when making the indentation in the kolache dough. Otherwise, it can rise again and cause your fillings to end up all over the baking tray.
- For a nut-free version: You can omit the almond topping. Also, try using tahini instead of cashew for the cheesecake filling. This swap will slightly affect the flavor but still tastes great.
Other Traditional Recipes
- Chocolate Salami (Easy No-Bake Dessert)
- German Potato Dumplings Recipe
- Steamed Yeast Dumplings
- German Schupfnudeln
- Easy Apple Strudel With Puff Pastry (Apfelstrudel)
If you give this sweet vegan Czech kolache recipe a try, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan – I love seeing your recreations.
Poppy seed filling:
Vegan cheesecake filling:
- 2 tbsp (16 g) flour
- 1 tbsp (7 g) powdered sugar
- 1/2 tbsp (7 g) vegan butter or margarine
Make the dough
- Please measure all ingredients in grams (use my written measurements) on a kitchen scale for exact results. Also, watch the VIDEO for visual instructions.Mix the warm milk (about 40 C / 104 F) with the yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar in a small bowl and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Add the flour to a medium bowl, along with the rest of the sugar and the salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and the oil. Mix well with a wooden spoon and then knead with your hands for a few minutes until a smooth dough is formed. If using dry yeast, you will need to add a little more milk.
- Form the dough into a ball, return it to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Poppy seed filling
- Grind the poppy seeds in an electric spice grinder or blender, then place all ingredients in a saucepan or skillet, heat and let simmer for a minute. Set aside.
Vegan cheesecake filling
- Place all ingredients in a small blender and blend until the mixture is smooth and lump-free. You can also use a stick blender.
- To make the crumble, simply mix all ingredients in a small bowl with your hands until the texture is crumbly. Set aside.
Shape the dough
- Divide the dough into 7 pieces (40 g each) and shape into round "cookies". Dust the bottom of a glass with a little flour and then place it in the center of the round dough pieces. Apply pressure and flatten the dough in the middle, forming an edge on the outside.
- Brush the edges of the dough with a little plant-based milk (mixed with a small pinch of turmeric) and place them on a lined baking sheet. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).
Add fillings and bake
- Spread about 2 teaspoons of the poppy seed and also of the cheesecake filling on each of the pastries and decorate with almonds (see step-by-step photos in the blog post). You can also fill the pastries with jam/marmalade if you like. Plum jam is well suited. Also, sprinkle with the crumbles.
- Bake in the oven at 180 C (350 F) for 15-18 minutes. The edges should be lightly browned. Enjoy warm!
Video Of The Recipe
- Sugar: For the yeast mixture, you should use 2 teaspoons of regular sugar to activate the yeast. The remaining amount can be coconut sugar or Erythritol.
- 120 g rice flour
- 40 g chickpea flour
- 40 g tapioca flour, or arrowroot flour
- 60 g plant-based milk, warm
- 40 g sugar, of choice
- 30 g oil
- 10 g fresh yeast, or 1 tsp (3 g) dry yeast
- 1 pinch of salt
- Use the same method as mentioned above.
- The gluten-free pastries need to be baked about 4-5 minutes longer, and you should use about 50 g of dough per pastry, as they don't rise as much as the regular ones.
- The total time doesn't include resting time.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically