Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Bohemian Kolaches for St. John Neumann

John Nepomucene Neumann was born on March 28, 1811, in the village of Prachatitz in Bohemia  which is now the Czech Republic. John, who had always been interested in being a missionary to America and came to the United States at age 25 and was ordained a priest in 1836.  He served the Niagara frontier for several years. He joined the Redemptorists and professed vows in 1842 and was the first Redemptorist to be professed in the United States.

Fr. John Neumann became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1848.  His ability to speak seven languages, German, Czech, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Gaelic helped him to serve his people. In 1852, he was appointed the 4th Bishop of Philadelphia. His first concern was always the immigrant children. He gave first priority to establishing schools and is credited with setting up the first system of diocesan parochial schools in the United States.  Also during Neumann's administration, new parish churches were completed at the rate of approximately one per month.

Bishop Neumann collapsed and died January 5, 1860.   On June 19, 1977, John Nepomucene Neumann became America's third Roman Catholic saint, and the first American male saint.

His feast day is January 5 and he is the patron of sick children and immigrants.  [Biography]

To remember St. John Neumann on his feast day, a beloved Bohemian pastry, kolaches, make a great treat. A kolache is a sweetened yeast pastry filled with a fruit, cream cheese, or a poppy seed filling. There are probably about as many variations as there are Czech grandmas.  There are many different shapes, sizes and fillings.  From rounds to folded pockets, hand sized to pie-sized, sweet to savory. Some raised, some not. Most seem to agree that the name “kolache” (or kolach, kolace, kolacky) comes from the Czech word for “cookie”.  So I tried my hand at one variation in honor of the Bohemian to American saint, St. John Neumann. 


2 packages active dry yeast
½ cup sugar, divided
2 cups warm milk (110° to 115°)
5 ½ to 6 ½ cups flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, softened
2 cups canned prune, poppy seed, cherry or lemon filling
1 egg white, beaten

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm milk; let stand 10 minutes. In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, remaining sugar, eggs beaten, salt, butter and yeast/milk mixture. Mix until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Add additional flour, if necessary. Place dough in greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Roll the dough into balls.  Place balls on pan lined with parchment paper and brush balls with melted oil. Let rise until dough is light (double height).  

Firmly press indentation in center and fill each roll with a heaping tablespoon of filling. Here is a link to recipes for several different fillings.

Brush dough with egg white. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until rolls are light golden brown. Yield: about 28 rolls.


O Saint John Neumann, your ardent desire of bringing all souls to Christ impelled you to leave home and country; teach us to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism which makes us all children of the one Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the family of God.

Obtain for us that complete dedication in the service of the needy, the weak, the afflicted and the abandoned which so characterized your life. Help us to walk perseveringly in the difficult and, at times, painful paths of duty, strengthened by the Body and Blood of our Redeemer and under the watchful protection of Mary our Mother.

May death still find us on the sure road to our Father's House with the light of living Faith in our hearts. Amen.

[Edited to add: This is also an idea for celebration of Servant of God Fr. Emil Kapaun, whose remains have been identified and returned to Kansas 70 years after his death as a POW in Korea. Fr. Kapaun was a son of Czech/Bohemian immigrants as well. Sept. 27, 2021]
Pin It

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm this looks so good! Thanks for sharing the recipe.