“Home of the Kolache” boasts the sign that rises high above the Village Bakery. If you’ve eaten around the American southwest – or were raised by a Czech baker – you likely know about kolaches, the uber-Danish that was brought to the Lone Star State by central European immigrants and is now THE popular morning pastry. We’ve yet to have a really bad one, but if you want to have it at its source, the place to go is the town of West, just off I-35 north of Waco.
“Kolace [Czech spelling] are sold warm from the oven,” assures the movable-letter menu above the counter at the Village Bakery, a shop with a few small tables and one circular ten-seat seminar table that hosts an ad hoc community coffee klatsch throughout most mornings. The coffee drinkers gasped as if they were watching fireworks when we sat at their table, pulled a kolache apart, and a cloud of steam puffed upwards. They had directed us to try apricot and prune, intriguing dour fillings that proved to be scarcely as sweet as the dough itself. They’re the flavors favored by old-timers, as are poppy seed and cottage cheese. The coffee drinkers told us that tourists tend to like fruitier versions – apple, strawberry, blueberry – as well as those made with cream cheese.
Fruit and cheese kolaches are Old World standards; the Village Bakery added a Tex-American turn to tradition in the early 1950s when baker Wendell Montgomery, worrying that his big loaves of sausage bread weren’t selling well, asked his mother-in-law to come up with a snack-sized version that included sausage links. Known as klobasniki, the savory pastries are now popular throughout the state.