We all got together last Monday, Feb. 7 to taste samples from our five batches of Kolaches. As usual, even though we all were to follow the same recipe, each of us deviated in some respects. This naturally produced very different results.
Now, we don’t judge our products each month, but usually one sample rises above the rest and is generally acclaimed the favorite, to the acute embarrassment and disbelief of the “winner.”
“Winner” of this month’s effort was Polly, who achieved a crispness no one else had done. Crispness is not a quality of traditional Kolaches, but by having a thinner dough and clearer glaze, the dough became crunchy.
Leona’s Kolaches were the most accurate and regular in shape – quite beautiful. Sandy made a variety of shapes, including a gorgeous pinwheel, rolled cylinders, and traditional rounds. Monica changed the filling to a cottage cheese mixture, which resulted in a delicious and very different-looking pastry – popular with all of us. Jo forgot to put powdered sugar on hers, but otherwise had an acceptable product. Her filling was made from dried peaches and was darker than the traditional ones.
Laurie, our founder and the only professional in this month’s group, was not satisfied with her dough, so she decided not to proceed to the finish. She used fresh yeast, to which she attributed the dough’s failure to rise to her satisfaction. She recognized that the high sugar and butter content also affected the process. We noted that our doughs did not rise to our expectations either.
After eating all the samples and drinking decaf coffee that we agreed is the most delicious we have tasted, we decided that for March 7 we would make pate a choux, with either savory or sweet fillings. Monica volunteered to select a recipe.
Monica says, “The Baker’s Dozen book does not have a recipe for pate a choux. There are plenty of them on the Web. Maybe Sandy can look up the Fannie Farmer version. I have copied the Alton Brown version and will attach it…. There are lots of websites with wonderful pictures and directions available for those of us who have never made this before.”
Here’s the Alton Brown version:
Pâte à Chou
* 1 1/4 cups water
* 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
* 4 to 6 large eggs
In a heavy saucepan bring water to a boil with butter and salt over high heat. Reduce heat to moderate. Add flour all at once and beat with a wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from sides of pan, forming a dough
Transfer dough to bowl of a standing electric mixer and beat in 4 eggs, 1 at a time, on high speed, beating well after each addition. Batter should be stiff enough to just hold soft peaks and fall softly from a spoon. If batter is too stiff, in a small bowl beat remaining 2 eggs lightly, 1 at a time, and add to batter, a little at a time, beating on high speed, until batter is desired consistency.