I know lemon zest has become nearly ubiquitous in savory dishes and desserts, and some think it’s a fad. And to those people, I say please go ahead, stop buying so many lemons! More for me. Seriously. I’m a full-on, unabashed fan girl. I’ve been in love with lemon – and all things tart, really – since I was a little girl. I think it was my first taste of – and I’m gonna age myself here – lemon Jolly Ranchers or Lemonheads that sold me. I’ve never looked back.
These days, I add lemon (or other citrus) zest to a lot. My favorite application has to be combining it with baked fruits, but some of my favorite uses include:
- My take on the amazing *Deb Perelman’s rhubarb-strawberry bars (which are to die for) are elevated with the addition of orange zest. I also tweaked this recipe in other ways, and will share details in a later post.
- Oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies (my original recipe) would not be nearly as delicious without a heavy dose of orange.
- My homemade granola needs (NEEDS!) lemon or orange zest, depending on my mood, to make it just right.
So when I tried King Arthur Flour’s kolaches recipe to feed beloved house guests recently, I knew I had to add citrus zest to the mix.
I’m so happy I did. Not only were they a hit, they also made it to the Thanksgiving-week-snack list. They’re easy to make, can feed a large group, and most importantly, are delicious (bonus: I can make ahead and freeze). In my twist, I use Solo Cake & Pastry Filling that I’ve zhuzhed up with lemon zest and juice. So. Good. My guests’ favorite by far was the cherry filling, but I’m partial to apricot.
*I am kind of obsessed with Deb P. If you keep reading my blog, you’ll see plenty of references to her excellent Smitten Kitchen.
King Arthur Flour’s Sweet & Savory Kolaches
Note: I omitted the ingredients and instructions for the homemade pineapple filling and streusel.
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 large eggs
4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 12-ounce cans of Solo Cake & Pastry Filling
2 large lemons, zest and juice
To make the dough: Warm the sour cream gently, and combine it with the sugar, salt, and butter in a large mixing bowl, the bowl of an electric mixer, or the bucket of your bread machine.
Cool the mixture to lukewarm (if it isn’t already that temperature), and add the yeast, warm water, eggs, and flour.
Mix and knead the dough, using your hands, a mixer, or a bread machine, until it’s soft and smooth.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough overnight.
Next day, remove the dough from the fridge, and divide it into about 20 pieces, each 1 3/4 ounces, about the size of a golf ball.
Place the pieces on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them.
Flatten the balls until they’re about 1/2″ thick, cover them with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.
To make the filling add zest and juice of one lemon to both cans of Solo filling and mix well. Set aside.
To assemble the buns: Using your fingers, make a wide, deep indentation in the center of each flattened dough ball. Don’t be afraid of being decisive here; you want to make a deep enough indentation that it doesn’t just disappear as the buns rise and bake.
Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling into each bun. Cover the kolaches, and allow them to rise for about an hour; they won’t necessarily double in bulk.
Uncover the kolaches, and bake them in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown.
Remove the kolaches from the oven, and serve warm, or at room temperature. Store any leftovers airtight at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.