Monday, January 16, 2012

Kolach - Homemade Ukrainian bread... worth the work!!

"Kolach" - a braided ring-shaped bread.  The name is derived from the Ukrainian word "kolo" meaning a circle. 

For the longest time, I shyed away from "bread making".  If you've read up on the topic... many people swear how precise you need to be. Some of the recipes can be quite daunting!  Taking a cue from my Baba and my mom... precision in the kitchen isn't always a must! You think those cute ole' Ukranian Woman back in the day sat there and precisely weighed out their flour? Or used the exact temperature of water to activate their yeast!?  Heck no!  Though, I will say... all those tips and recipes from sites like Yeastspotting are fabulous - (I'm going to master sour dough, and french bread soon!)  However, some recipes like the one below, are basic, "easy" and oh sooooo yummy!  So mine may not be picture perfect.... but still think these are goregous...and taste even better!

My recipe is adapted from our family "bible" ..... "The Ukrainian Daughters' Cookbook" I use it for just about anything Ukrainian...and then some (omg their crackle top peanut butter cookies....YUM YUM) Years ago, my mom got a copy, and since then... I've got my own....that being said... there's something about "hers" that is just so sentimental.  It contains breakdowns for several of the larger recipes... umm... recipe for 100?!  (guess these Ukie Woman didn't mess around!) haha....


1 tbsp yeast*
1 cup luke warmwater*
2 tsp sugar*

1 cup sugar
4 cups warm water
3/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp salt
5 eggs, beaten
12 1/2  - 13 cups flour

**Dissolve the sugar and yeast in water and let stand for 10 minutes.  IF you are using "active yeast" you can omit this step, and add the extra cup warm water/sugar/yeast to the next step.

- Dissolve the cup of sugar in 4 cups of warm water.
- Add melted butter, salt, and beaten eggs. Mix in the flour and knead it till it is smooth and elastic. The dough should be a bit stiffer than for bread.  Keep adding flour a little at a time, and knead well in between.  The dough will be ready when your hands come out "clean".
- Cover, let it rise in a warm place until double in bulk. Punch it down and let it rise again.
- Divide the dough into 3 equal parts.
- Take 1/3 of the dough and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Roll 2 pieces to a length of about 30 inches.
- Put the two lengths side by side, and starting from the center, entwine the dough, thus forming a rope-like twist. Do the other half in the same manner.
- Place the entwined dough in a circle along the edge of a well greased 9 inch foil pan.
- Make 2 more twists about 24 inches long using the remaining 4 lengths of dough. Now take these 2 twists and entwine them in the opposite direction, making a double twist.
- Form these into a circle. Cut the ends at an angle and join neatly by pinching the ends together. There should be a small empty circular space in the center. If desired, you can keep the center open by placing a 12-ounce can that has had its outside well greased in the center.
- Cover, set the loaves in a warm place and let them rise till almost double in bulk. Be careful not to let the loaves rise too long as the ornamentations will lose their definition.
- Brush the surface gently with a beaten egg and bake at 350* F for1 hour. Like Easter "paska" or "babka", this dough is temperamental and should not be subjected to loud noises or constantly opening the oven door.
- Bake the "kolach" until they sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Place the finished "kolach" on cooling rack. 

The recipe above make 3 loaves of bread.  Typically, I make the first one a little bigger then the other two.  For the 2 smaller ones, play with the dough a little.  One layer of double twists, or braided dough made into a circle loaf tooks beautiful as well.  Kolach is awesome toasted and buttered for breakfast as well!  (Just saying!)  Your whole house will smell like sweet, rich bread - truly carb heaven!!


  1. It was very yummy...may have to try making it one day myself.

  2. Looks absolutely fabulous Kelly...I will definitely give it a try...I.K.

  3. You make this look so easy!!! (and yummy)

  4. It looks lovely!!
    You shouldn't fear of baking bread, and should bake more often.
    I bake challahs each week, and love it
    You've done a really good job!:)

  5. Thanks @Winnie! I plan on making a lot more! Challahs - mmmm bread pudding :)