Sourdough Kolacze

Updated: May 20


Soft bread dough wrapped around your favourite jam or jam and cream cheese. Topped up with cookie-like, buttery streusel.

These Kolacze (kolache) are naturally leavened with beautiful crumb texture. Light and airy. Great flavour thanks to long dough maturation (mainly hands off process), beautiful bread-y and flavourful skin, light and airy crumb.

Kolacze recipe

When comparing to Kolacze baked on commercial yeast - this is a slow process rewarding those who wait patiently.

This bake brings all the benefits of sourdough baking. Thanks to longer fermentation, gluten in the dough is pre-fermented before the bake (making it easier to digest). The dough has less sugar. The crust is firmer, has beautiful, fully developed flavour. The crumb is light, airy, springy and flavourful. Rolls will keep fresh for longer (also enjoyable on day 2).

Kolacze crumb

For a good bake:

  • Starter and levain - the recipe calls for stiff wheat starter (45-50% hydration) which is used to build stiff levain (at 50% hydration). If you have pasta madre - use pasta madre in this bake, if you don’t - use stiff wheat starter. Pasta madre has a lot of advantages in baking sweet sourdough bakes - one of which is close management of acetic:lactic load of sourdough cultures. This type of starter can lift butter and egg-rich dough and resulting bakes do not have sour or acetic notes. Pasta madre can compete with commercial yeast and more than this - produces way better flavour, crumb and crust. If you haven’t had any issues with acetic load in your wheat starter - stiff wheat starter will work here just fine too. If you have had issues with acetic load or sour notes in long fermentation of sweet bakes - then it’s worth to measure pH in your dough at several fermentation points (and course correct) or research pasta madre and management of this type of stiff starter. Generally, pure wheat (strong white starter) would fit this bake better (rather than rye or wholemeal wheat). What if your starter is managed at 100% hydration? Run 1 refreshment at 50% hydration before building levain (feed 1:1:0.5, starter:flour:water). Keep for 3-3.5 hours at 28C (covered but not sealed). During this time your starter should more than double (preferably triple) in volume. Then, go ahead and build levain. If you have major imbalances in sourdough cultures (predominantly acetic) - these will need to be sorted out before starting to bake. If you are interested in building pasta madre from scratch, here are some resources: how to build pasta madre (here and here - two different approaches).

Stiff starter - levain, just after build:

stiff sourdough starter

Stiff starter - levain after 3hrs at 28C, ready for mixing:

levain build

Pasta madre (before the feed, fed and when levain is ready for use):

  • Adding butter - let the dough rest for 30-45minutes after mixing and before adding soft butter. This will allow dough to start forming gluten. Add butter in small portions - take your time. This step will take about 10 minutes. Make sure not to over-heat the dough when mixing. If the dough temperature starts exceeding 27C - let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes and then go back and knead in the rest of butter.

  • Proofing at warm temperature - you want to hit lactic fermentation. Bulk proof at 28C and final proof shaped buns at 28-30C. If you don’t have a proofer you may opt to preheat oven for few seconds and then leave the light on.

  • Overnight rest - this will chill the dough (it will be easier to shape) and help in developing more flavour. If you want to speed things up - you may opt to refrigerate the dough for 1-2 hours (just enough time to chill) and anything up to 12 hours.

sourdough after bulk fermentation

  • Shaping - lightly dust work surface with flour and gently toss top and bottom of the dough with flour. You may opt to roll out the dough gently using rolling pin or flatten by hand. We are using scone cutter (or glass) here to keep the dough texture in tact (less dough handling vs. regular roll shaping). Make smaller hole in the middle (press with smaller glass or hands, all the way down) to make space for cream cheese and jam or jam only.

kolacze shaping

shaped kolacze

  • Filling - fill your buns with sweet cream cheese and top up with jam OR with seedless jam only.

kolacze after final proof

  • Streusel - freeze streusel before using. Cold streusel will bake into cookie-like, crunchy, buttery crumb. Place streusel on the edges of the bun, rather than the middle (streusel placed in the middle will soak into the filling, rather than crisp up). If you have any streusel left - freeze leftovers (it can be stored for up to 3 months).

Sourdough Kolacze Recipe

Yield: 8 Kolacze

Time: 20-24 hrs (mainly rest time)

Tin: large baking tray or 22cmx33cm tin (6 per tray)


Eggs - 14%

Butter - 15%

Hydration - 65-68% (roux included)

Salt - 2%

Levain - 25% (at 50% hydration)

Sample Timing:

1pm - 4/4.30pm - mix up levain (leave for 3-3.5hrs at 28C)

4.30pm - 5pm - mix the dough and leave for 30-45min at ambient room temp

5pm - 5.15pm - add butter to the dough

5.15pm - 10.15pm - bulk proof (5 hours at 28C, 2 S&F in 1st hour)

10.15pm - 8am - overnight bulk rest (at 3-4C), bulk can rest for up to 12 hours

8am - 8.15am - shape

8.15am - 11am - final proof (3 hrs at 28-30C)

11am - 11.20am - bake


Levain (at 50% hydration):

  • 50g wheat starter (45-50% hydration)

  • 50g wheat flour

  • 25g water (at 22-24C)

Water roux:

  • 25g bread flour (strong white, 12g protein)

  • 125ml water


  • 150ml full-fat milk (+1 Tbsp bread flour and 1 tsp sugar)

  • 390g bread flour (strong white, 12g protein)

  • 8g coarse sea salt

  • 1 large egg, 60g

  • 45g sugar (or 30g sugar + 15 g vanilla sugar)

  • 65g unsalted butter, room temperature (soft but not oily)


  • 250g seedless jam

Cream cheese filling ( optional, mix all together until smooth):

  • 200g cream cheese (Philadelphia)

  • 1 egg yolk

  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon

  • 2-3 Tbsps icing (confectioners’ sugar) - to taste

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste


  • 50g cake flour (weak flour)

  • 50g icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)

  • pinch of table salt

  • 50g unsalted butter, cold

Egg wash:

  • egg yolk

  • 1 Tbsp water

  • pinch of table salt


  1. Prepare levain: Mix starter, flour and water until firm dough is formed. Mix well so that there are no dry pockets of flour remaining - this will take 3-5 minutes. At the end of mixing (this portion is very small so you can work it in your hands) you should have elastic, satiny dough. Form a little ball, cut X on top and transfer to jar (locked but without seal, for free air circulation). Move to warm place (28C) for 3-3.5 hours (the levain should more than double, preferably triple the initial volume). You may opt to pre-heat oven for few seconds, switch it off and turn the light on OR you may opt to place levain in the proofer.

  2. Prepare water roux: Whisk flour with water and slowly warm up to 65C, whisking every so often. If you don’t have kitchen thermometer - it should take about 3-4 minutes, cooking on low/medium heat (you are going for thin béchamel sauce consistency). Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for anything from 2-24 hours. Leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before adding to the rest of the dough.

  3. Mix the dough: When levain is ready, warm up 150ml milk mixed with 1 Tbsp flour and 1 tsp of sugar to 38C. Take off the heat and add levain (split into small 0.5cm pieces). Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. In your main mixing bowl whisk flour with coarse salt. Add levain, water roux. Lightly beat egg with sugar until fluffy and add to the main mixing bowl. Knead for 8-10 minutes on low-medium speed. Cover the dough and let rest for 30-45 minutes at room temperature.

  4. Add butter to the dough: After short rest, start adding butter into dough. Take your time and add in small pieces, mixing on low/medium speed. It will take about 10 minutes to work butter in fully and develop the dough. Final mixing temperature should be between 26-28C. If you notice the dough is heating up too much - let it rest for 5-10 minutes and then knead for 3-4 more minutes. At the end - bring the dough together by hand - do few slap and folds or knead by hand until plump dough is formed. Transfer the dough into clean bowl, cover and proceed to bulk proof.

  5. Bulk proof the dough at 28C for 5 hours. Again - you can preheat oven for few seconds and leave the light on OR use the proofer. Do 2 sets of stretch and fold in the 1st hour of bulk proof. After 5 hours the dough should double (or triple, depending on the strength of your starter). Don’t degas, transfer the dough to the fridge.

  6. Overnight rest: Refrigerate dough for 8-12 hours (covered) at 3-4C.

  7. Shape: Lightly dust work surface with flour. Toss top and bottom of cold dough in flour. Roll out 1.5cm-2cm thin and cut out circles (use large glass or scone cutter). Make a smaller imprint in the middle (all the way down, you can use smaller glass and widen with your fingers). Lightly dust baking tray with flour, place shaped Kolacze on top and fill with cream cheese (if using) and then with jam. Cover the tray.

  8. Final proof: Transfer the tray to warm place (28-30C) and proof for 3 hours. In a meantime prepare streusel: mix flour with icing sugar, pinch of salt, grate butter into the mix and work the dough until fine crumbly streusel is formed. Freeze until ready to use. If you have any streusel left at the end of baking - it can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.

  9. Bake: Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced). Brush sides of Kolacze with egg yolk mixed with pinch of salt and Tbsp of water, sprinkle edges of Kolacze with cold streusel and bake for 20 minutes (in the last 5-7 minutes decrease the temperature to 175C/155C fan forced). Rolls will be enjoyable for at least 2 days. On day 2 you may opt to heat up Kolacze for few minutes in the oven (180C), let rolls cool for 5 minutes for streusel to crisp up. Enjoy!


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