Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Dreaded Expiration Date: Peach Kolaches

For years before I became so knowledgeable about food (ok well, kind of sort of knowledgeable about some food) I collected spices like some people collect decorative spoons.  I had all types of spices, herbs and roots just in case I ran across an exotic curry or something that I just had to prepare at the spur of the moment. I even had some spices in my cupboard that were aged five years or more.
Then one day I read that every six months you should purge your stale spices and buy new.   If that wasn’t bad enough I noticed that a new box of baking soda I had just purchased was only good for 3 more months. You’ve got to be kidding me!  We’re not the Kennedys!  I can’t afford that, so I refused to conform.  Ok, I’ll be honest I must admit that there is nothing like the taste of fresh cinnamon, but I still just can’t bring myself to throw away that ground thyme that I bought the week before my son was born sixteen years ago.
Nowadays “The Man” puts expiration dates on EVERYTHING.  Before, I always trusted the sight, smell and taste test to see if my ancient can of green beans was still good.  Really, we never used to even think about canned goods or dried noodles going bad.  If the can wasn’t rusty, moldy or puffy, we called it dinner.  Those were the days boy.
It kills me to admit it, but I finally succumbed to this expiration date peer pressure a few years ago.  I hate to think about all of the food that I have thrown away because of these menacing dates, mumbling all the while about how ridiculous it is, but better safe than sorry.
If you're like me and don't really know what to think, click here for more information about the shelf life of the foods we eat, and decide for yourself whether or not you should eat that two year old canned ham in your cupboard.  I’ll tell you what; you just might be surprised at the answer.
What caused me to get on my soap box you might ask?  Well, I recently helped a neighbor can some peaches which reminded me of some preserves that I canned last year.   Out of curiosity I Googled food safety guidelines for home canned goods and realized that if I don’t use my preserves within the next 2 days, they will probably kill my family.  Ok, I’ll get cooking, but I still don’t know if I believe it.
So, how to use 3 half pints of peach preserves is the question I now find myself searching to answer.  In my opinion, the answer is obvious, peach kolaches.    Brought to south central Texas by Czech immigrants, these soft doughy pastries are great for breakfast, with coffee or for dessert.  Akin to open face jelly doughnuts, but far superior by comparison, these pastries are a great reason to use up any ingredients with a looming expiration date.


1 - .25 ounce envelope fast acting dry yeast
1 cup of warm milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter (5 – 1/3 tablespoons), melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten
3 – 1/4 to 3 – 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour (I used 2 cups all-purpose and 1-1/2 cup of bread flour with great results)
1/2 pint jar peach (or your very favorite) preserves

Cinnamon Streusel Topping (recipe follows)

Sprinkle yeast over the warm milk in a large bowl or better yet, the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with a dough hook.  Let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy.
Add the sugar, salt, butter and egg to the milk mixture in the bowl and stir until the mixture is combined.  Slowly add the flour, one quarter at a time until it is completely mixed in and dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.  Knead for 5 minutes.
Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray.  Place the dough in the bowl and spray the top with more cooking spray.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a cotton towel.  Place in a warm, draft free space and let rise until double in size, approximately 1 hour.
Roll dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 16 equal portions.  Roll portions into balls and place in a greased baking dish (you may have to use 2 pans to fit all the dough).  Don't worry about crowding them just a bit as they will bake together, making soft edges that my family loves.
With the back of a tablespoon or your fingers, make an indention in the middle of each ball of dough.  Fill each indention with a heaping teaspoon of preserves.  Sprinkle the tops with Cinnamon Streusel Topping.
Cover with additional plastic wrap and let rise again for 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place risen kolaches in the preheated oven and bake for approximatey 20 minutes or until light golden brown.
Makes 16 nice size kolaches

Cinnamon Streusel Topping
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons slightly softened butter
Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a medium size bowl.  Cut in the butter with a fork, pastry blender or your hands.  The mixture will look like coarse sand.   Sprinkle over the top of the kolaches.  Freeze any unused topping for use later.


DaniD said...

These look DELICIOUS!!! I am so with you on the expirations--boyfriend is an expiration czar! He is constantly thinking things go bad before they do. When they do go bad, I have to hide them :) good thing I'm the only one hanging out in the kitchen!

mark said...

Reminds me of my first Kolache from Yoakum City Bakery. Yum.

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

They look so good! I might have to make these the next time I bake.

Angela FRS said...

I have been wanting to try to make kolaches since I tried my first taste a few years back in Milwaukee. Now I want sugar :)

Kirsten@My German Kitchen...in the Rockies said...

Karen, I LOVE your new blog design. The egg header is so wonderful. I hope the chicken that laid the eggs are humanely kept, right? Did you check?
Well, whenever I am at my in laws I check the expiration date. One time all of us "kids" were there and the sons actually went through the pantry and fridge. They found so many things that were way past the expiration date (like years!). Glad I didn't have to find them and get in trouble for it.
Let me check my calender. Yes, tomorrow after dropping my daughter of at school I still have half an hour for a coffee and a Kolache. Are there any left?? They look so good. I am sooo done with my diet.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I can't tell you how delighted I was when I found your blog and this post. I grew up in Richmond, Texas, eating peach kolaches from a bakery in town. The bakery is no longer there and I have moved. Now I can make my own. Thank you for the recipe.

Lea Ann said...

I get exasperated with expiration dates. I'm with you on the smell/taste thing. The Kolaches look wonderful. Never had one.

Cranberry Morning said...

I don't know how you managed to not eat those preserves in the last year, but there they were, ready for kolaches! I'm thinking, thinking about making the kolaches. We have a bakery nearby that makes good ones, but I suspect these, fresh from the oven, are even better. Thanks for the recipe.
Re. expiration date: I let yogurt go well beyond its expiration date. After all, it's yogurt. And lots of things are good well beyond their dates. But, I suppose in order to avoid law suits...

Cooking with Michele said...

People in my cooking classes always ask me about throwing out spices. Dried spices that are more than 6 months old are certainly not going to make you sick, they just start losing their flavor. I advise rather than throwing them out and wasting the money, just use more of the weakened spice until it's used up - instead of a teaspoon, if it's light on flavor use a tablespoon.

Karen Harris said...

Thanks for the great info Michele. I should have been clearer in my post that spices lose their potency after 6 months, they do not spoil. I guess I assumed that my super smart readers knew that. As you can probably tell, as frugal as I am, I use my dried spices up and never throw them out no matter what the experts say.

Sara @ Saucy Dipper said...

I know I say this all the time, but I'm fearful of baking the way you're fearful of expiration dates. Now that it's getting cooler, maybe I should just devote a whole weekend to experimentation in the oven.

By the way, loving the new look on the blog.

Cranberry Morning said...

Just one more thing about the photo: who on earth can eat just one kolache??! ;-)

Boulder Locavore said...

I love this post Karen! The terror of expiration dates, the helpful link and lead in to your fab kolaches. I had read that one should consume preserves a year after canning but they can last longer. I have eaten them up to two years afterward with no ill affect (though I have developed a spasmodic tick in my left cheek...). Generally they don't last that long. I've opened others at a year and they are mush (pickled things). Could not pay me to eat them even if still safe. Loved Michele's idea on spices. I'm with you. Rarely throw out. With Vitamin Cottage selling them in bulk so cheaply I do toss after a bit now.

Yenta Mary said...

Those look gorgeous, and would make a perfect breakfast! As for expiration dates - meh, I'm pretty daring, I guess. No mold, no stench, no dents ... I'll likely eat it. Might boil the bejeebies out of it first, but I'll likely eat it!

Lisa @ Snappy Gourmet said...

Those look so good!!!! Wish I was your neighbor. :)

Lorie said...

I always stretch my food past the date, especially spices. It's funny you should blog about this now. Just the other day, I did a serious cleaning out of my spice cabinet. I threw away things I'd been hanging onto years. It felt kind of liberating.:)

Adina Neufeld said...

Love the new look! And these look incredible. I will have to try. I'm highly guilty of leaving things in the fridge waaaayyy past their expiration date. My kids now police our food! Thanks for the yummy recipe!

Andrea @ ForkFingersChopsticks.com said...

Fantastic post. You had me giggling with this one. I really hope you do toss out that old thyme.

Love the new look!!!
I think you should make some kolaches for our next get together (hint).

heartland frugalista said...

Yum, yum and yum!!

I also blogged about the dread expiration date. I have to be a lot more ruthless, according to the food sites!


Keep baking!

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