Citizens, I have the great good fortune to be married to a saintly woman born in the Texas hill country who has educated my NY palate regarding many of the great culinary wonders of the area. That said, only recently have I discovered a delicious micro-local treat – ironically, at the Austin airport a few weeks ago! These tender, soft rolls stuffed with sausage, cheese and jalapeño are known as klobasniky and are pretty much limited to south-central Texas.
A klobásník is a savory finger food of Czech origin. While often thought of as a variation of the kolach (koláče), most Czechs hold the distinction that kolache are only filled with non-meat fillings. Unlike kolache, which came to the United States with Czech immigrants, klobasniky were first made by Czechs that settled in Texas.
Klobasniky are similar in style to a pigs in a blanket or sausage roll but wrapped in kolach dough. Traditionally klobasniky are filled only with sausage, but as their popularity has increased in the United States, other ingredients such as ham, eggs, cheese and peppers are used alongside or instead of sausage.
The term “klobasnek” is possibly a corrupted form of the dialectal Czech word klobásník, a pastry filled with klobása (a Czech variation on a traditional Central European sausage) or a chopped meat patty. This pastry is served as a traditional Easter treat in the Moravian Silesia region.
As noted on epicurious.com:
IF YOU MEET A CZECH TEXAN, he or she will politely inform you it’s incorrect to use the term sausage kolache when referring to a sausage-stuffed kolache. When you scrunch up your face with confusion, the person will then kindly explain that the correct term for this savory pastry is klobasnek.
But wait, let’s back up here for a minute. If you’re not familiar with a kolache, then you may be wondering what the heck I’m talking about. Allow me to explain.
A kolache is a sweetened yeast roll that’s been stuffed with a fruit, cream cheese, or a poppy seed filling. The roll is either square or round, and there’s a well in the center to contain the filling.
With a klobasnek, the dough is wrapped entirely around the filling, and the only way you can tell what’s inside is to take that first bite. You find these pastries all over Texas, though they were first introduced in Central Texan Czech communities, such as the small towns of West and Caldwell.
While the origin of the term klobasnek for the sausage-stuffed version is a little vague, The Village Bakery in downtown West has claimed provenance for the term. What’s interesting, however, is that these Czech pastries are more associated with Southeast Texas than with Central Texas.
Citizens, the base version of this recipe is an heirloom version I found on recipesource.com, by a woman named Mary S. Veselka.
My sister-in-law informs me that a soft dough is critical to success, so I’ve tweaked the original recipe to include a dough enhancer that makes the bread super-soft and capable of going days without getting stale. What goes into a dough enhancer? TFD uses a combination of wheat gluten, lecithin, ascorbic acid crystals, pectin, gelatin, nonfat dry milk, and ginger.
Wheat gluten improves the texture and rise of bread. Lecithin teams up with the gluten to make bread lighter. Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) helps the yeast work better. Pectin adds moisture, as does the gelatin. The dry milk helps the dough relax and the ginger is another yeast booster (you won’t taste it in the finished product).
Most of these are also preservatives, so they help keep your bread fresh longer, and they are all natural. It’s super-easy to make this – just mix together dough enhancer ingredients and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
I also spec my favorite brands of kielbasa, cheese and jalapeños for this recipe. Heretically, I do include one extra secret ingredient in my klobasnek – a roasted onion and garlic jam from a Texas provider that adds a whole other dimension of savory flavor to the dish. It is optional, but recommended – feel free to leave it out.
Texas klobasnek are similar to the Nebraska Runza, but are definitely spicier than their more Northern cousin. No matter what, I have every confidence that you will LOVE this recipe from south central Texas, Citizens!
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