Family · My Roots · New Favorite · New Traditions

Cherry Bars

Cherry desserts are one of my favorites and I had to try this Cherry Bars recipe from my late Aunt Joyce’s recipe box.  While I don’t recall ever having these, they are wonderful. The combination of almond and cherry…yum!

Leafing through old, handwritten recipe cards is such a treasure…a lost tradition in today’s world.

CHERRY BARS

1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, beat after addition of each egg
3 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1 can cherry pie filling

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease 10×15″ pan.
  • Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.
  • Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
  • Slowly add flour mixture to batter.  Then add vanilla and almond extract.
  • Spread 1/2 of batter into pan.  Spool filling on top and spread to cover. Drop the remaining batter by spoonfuls over the top.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes.  Watch it to just golden brown.
  • Drizzle with glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar, 4 or more tsp. milk, a few drops of almond extract.  Add milk until the drizzle consistency is reached.
Czech Heritage · Family Favorites · Holidays · Home · My Roots

Cherry Kolaches, our Christmas Day Tradition

The gifts are wrapped, the house is decorated, and the baking is done. This year I thought I’d take a break from making Kolaches for Christmas Day until I mentioned this to my family. WHAT? BREAKING FROM TRADITION? So, I will not break the tradition and made them today.  The truth is I love them as much as my daughters and their families.

This year I used my Mother’s Foundation sweet dough which she used for cinnamon rolls and Kolaches. My KitchenAid mixer makes easy work of making bread instead of taxing my arthritic wrists. The past several batches of bread I’ve made from standard flour have been too dense, so I decided to try King Arthur’s unbleached bread flour. I loved the result with a very light sweet dough that melts in your mouth.

The cherry filling started with a bucket of frozen sour cherries I purchased at the Farmer’s Market last summer. img_8562

There is nothing better than the taste of those cherries. Truly, I could eat a bowl of the cherry filling and forget the bread dough!

I also make a dozen chocolate kolaches which started as a request by one of son-in-laws, now a family favorite as well.  I simply put chocolate chips (or this year a dove milk chocolate square) in the middle of the dough ball and then pinch it closed.  Let it rise to double in size then bake. When you remove from the oven, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

img_8552

Another tradition for our Christmas Day celebration is the Nordic Kringla.  Turns out Kringla is a big hit with my 3 year old grandson and 1 year old granddaughter.  My 6 week old grandson has yet to weigh in…but next year…

Wishing all a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year!

CHERRY KOLACHES, our Christmas Day Tradition

Mom’s Foundation Sweet Dough

2 cakes (Packages) yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons shortening (I used unsalted butter)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6-7 cups flour (I used 6 cups King Arthur Bread Flour)
3 eggs, beaten

  • Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in lukewarm water. Set aside to soften and rise.
  • Scald milk.  Add shortening, sugar and salt; cool to lukewarm. Add 2 cups flour to make a batter.  Add the yeast mixture and beaten eggs, and beat well.
  • Add remaining flour or enough to make a soft dough. Knead lightly and place in greased bowl. Cover and let set in warm place, free from draft.  Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
  • When light, punch dough down and shape in balls about the size of a walnut and place on a greased cookie sheet. Let rise for 10 minutes
  • When risen, push the centers of balls down and fill with cherry filling (or filling of your choice).  Let rise again.
  • Bake at preheated 400 degree oven (375 degrees for convectional oven) for about 7 minutes or until golden brown.

Cherry Filling
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup juice from cherries
3 cups pitted tart red cherries (water pack)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

Combine 3/4 cup sugar with cornstarch.  Stir in cherry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, till mixture thickens and bubbles; cook 1 minute longer.  Add remaining sugar, cherries, butter, and food coloring and cook until thickened. (Mixture will be very thick.)  Let stand while preparing bread dough for Kolaches.

Reference:

KOLACHE … Bohemian Heritage and Christmas Tradition

New Favorite

Cherry Crumble Coffee Cake

Sour cherries in coffee cake sounded perfect given the wonderful frozen pie cherries in my freezer.  I did not have a recipe for a cherry coffee cake but was delighted to find this recipe.  Perfect for a Sunday brunch and perhaps leftover for breakfast during the week.

 

CHERRY CRUMBLE COFFEE CAKE

TOPPING

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

CAKE

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups (1 pound) fresh sour cherries, pitted, or frozen dark sweet cherries
  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish, and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  • Make the topping: Stir together butter, flour, sugars, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Make the cakes: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. With a mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar in another bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Working in alternating batches, add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with a spatula.
  • Dot top with cherries, and sprinkle with crumb topping.
  • Bake until golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. (Note from Cathy:  My oven tends to bake hot so about 50 minutes worked for me). Let cool before serving.

 

Recipe from Martha Stewart

New Favorite · New Traditions · Vegan · Vegetarian

Cherry Granita

Sour Pie Cherries are one of my favorite summer finds.  In the late summer, the Farmer’s Market has frozen tubs of cherries and I hoard them until Christmas when I make Cherry Kolaches. I froze the extra cherry juice to make  Cherry Granita. What a delightful, refreshing treat from extra juice.

CHERRY GRANITA

3 cups sour cherry juice
1 lemon, juice of
1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • Put the cherry juice in the saucepan over a medium heat, along with the sugar.
  • Cook until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.  Cool.
  • Pour the cherry mixture into a shallow container and freeze, stirring about once every hour, bringing ice crystals from the edge into the center.
  • It will take about 5 hours to freeze completely.
  • To serve:  Remove from freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.
Czech Heritage · Family · Family Favorites · Holidays

Chocolate Kolaches

Christmas morning without Kolaches is like the 4th of July without fireworks. Cherry Kolaches have always been my favorite and, until a few years ago, the only kind I ever made.  What to do when your new son-in-law doesn’t like cooked fruit? You can never go wrong with Chocolate.

Hershey's Chocolate Kisses
Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses

The first year I was a bit doubtful about the results but I was pleasantly surprised. I took a piece of dough, as I would for the cherry kolaches, but flatten in slightly, pressing 1-2 chocolate kisses in the dough, then pinching the dough closed around the chocolate.

Update January 2021:  I have made these every year but have graduated to a higher grade of chocolate, using Ghirardelli chocolate chips or squares.

Allow the dough to rise, per the recipe, and bake.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar when removing from the oven (optional).

See the original recipe on my Cherry Kolaches post.

New Favorite · New Traditions · Uncategorized · Vegan · Vegetarian

Cherry Crisp (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Sour cherry desserts are a big favorite. While trying to avoid gluten, I was craving a cherry something, crisp…pie…cobbler. I decided to try a Cherry Crisp with almond (instead of wheat) flour using applesauce instead of butter. The result is a gluten and dairy free dessert. The girls likened the Cherry Crisp to a really good cherry granola bar.

If you prefer to skip the whole gluten and dairy free scene, substitute all-purpose flour for almond flour and margarine instead of applesauce.

Cherry
Cherry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CHERRY CRISP

2 cups cherry pie filling (gluten-free)
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray 8×8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Spread the cherry filling in the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Combine the oats, almond flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and applesauce together.
  • Crumble evenly over the cherry mixture.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.

 

New Favorite

DUMP CAKE…decadent and sinfully simple

Dump Cake is NOT a low cal dessert but it is easy and delicious. My buddy, Jan, again shared this recipe with me. Somehow this recipe escaped me all these years and I wanted to research it’s origin. Research points to the original Heloise for this recipe, although I couldn’t confirm nor deny this fact.

What I can confirm…this is a decadent pleasure to enjoy ‘once in a blue moon.’

DUMP CAKE

1 can (21 ounce) cherry pie billing (or apple)
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick margarine
1 cup chopped pecans
whipped cream

  • Place pie filling and pineapple in 9×13″ cake pan.
  • Sprinkle on top 1 box yellow cake mix.
  • Slice 1 stick margarine and place over cake mix.
  • Sprinkle 1 cup chopped pecans over the top.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
  • Serve with whipped cream and enjoy every bite!

 

Czech Heritage · Family Favorites · My Roots

Kolache … Bohemian Heritage and Christmas Tradition

KOLACHE … Cherry is my favorite!

Kolaches originated in the Slovak countries and our Smaha family brought this Bohemian tradition to America when they immigrated to Iowa in the late 1800s. This tradition has been passed down in our family for many generations.  Kolaches are wonderful any time of the year but especially wonderful at Christmas.  My family tradition is to have them Christmas morning while we are opening gifts and sipping coffee or hot chocolate.

Christmas Morning and Kolaches 1987

This picture was taken in Christmas morning 1987 with my Mother, Mother-In-Law, and oldest daughter, Megan.  Let the Kolache feast begin!

My all-time favorite Kolache is cherry.  This season I was fortunate to buy a large container of fresh frozen tart cherries that I’ve been saving for Kolache filling this Christmas.  Other years, I have used canned cherry pie filling. I have made Kolaches from old-fashioned sweet dough recipes but a new favorite is the sweet dough recipe for the bread machine.  In a pinch, I have used frozen bread dough, even though not sweet, is very good.

Traditional Kolache come in many flavors including the timeless Bohemian prune or poppy-seed fillings.  My Mother’s Kolaches were fabulous and we waited with excitement while they baked, poised to snatch one as soon as they came out of the oven.

Everyone’s Kolaches are a tad different.  My Mother didn’t add the crumb topping to her Kolaches but a wonderful farm neighbor, Nellie, made Prune  Kolaches with crumb topping in her old wood stove.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had Kolaches from a wood cooking stove.  My Aunt Lora, baked Kolaches that she pinched closed at the top and sprinkled with sugar.  Equally wonderful.

Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas and many cherished family traditions.

SWEET BREAD DOUGH (FOR BREAD MACHINE)

1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
1 cup less 1 T. water

  • All ingredients should be at room temperature. Add the ingredients in the order listed above.
  • Run the machine through the dough cycle. Remove and work on floured board to desired loaf, rolls, etc.

CHERRY FILLING

1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup juice from cherries
3 cups pitted tart red cherries (water pack)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

  • Combine 3/4 cup sugar with cornstarch.  Stir in cherry juice.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, till mixture thickens and bubbles; cook 1 minute longer.  Add remaining sugar, cherries, butter and food coloring and cook until thickened. Mixture will be very thick.  Let stand while preparing bread dough for Kolaches.

PREPARING THE KOLACHES:

Pinch a piece of dough about the size of a walnut (or ping pong ball) and place on a greased baking pan.  Cover with wax paper then a towel and let rise until double in size.  When risen, push centers of balls down and fill with cherry filling (or filling of choice).  Let rise again and bake at 400 degrees.

KOLACHE CRUMB TOPPING  (Optional)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using margarine)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together (use a pastry blender)  until crumbly and use as a topping for Kolaches or coffee cakes.