Almost a Kolache? I tested this pastry recipe from 1903

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I love browsing cookbooks from decades past, choking on aspic recipes, or just seeing how things have changed over the years.

So when I found out that the Houston Community College’s culinary department has a collection of historic cookbooks dating back to 1922, all donated by former Houston Chronicle food editor Ann Criswell, I had to see which ones were weird, wild, or possibly delicious There are recipes.

And since I’m not a professional chef, I brought my sommelier friend who had a culinary degree to browse the collection.

We were looking for some classic Texas recipes that we know and love in the present day. But among beanless chili, armadillo stew and lots of gelatin, we found something in “The Settlement Cook Book” that resembled a Kolache recipe from the early 1900s. Instead, these were called “cake tarts”.

The recipe for cake tarts from the Settlement Cook Book, part of HCC’s historical cookbook collection.

Abigail Rosenthal / Chronicle

The Settlement Cook Book was originally published in 1901 primarily for Jewish immigrants settling in Milwaukee, so this was nowhere near the most Texan cookbook in the group. But after almost 20 minutes trying to find an old Kolache recipe and failing to make it, we were intrigued by this seemingly Germanic version from the early 1900s (quick lesson: “Kuchen” is the German word for “Kuchen “).

If it is walking like a duck and croaking like a duck, it must be pretty close to an early Kolache, so we got the necessary ingredients and got to work.

We quickly learned how confusing old recipes actually are when you make them rather than just laughing at how often people put mayonnaise on things. The Settlement Cook Book offered two different dough recipes, no oven temperature, and we had to convert what “1 cent yeast value” means in 2021 units.

But the batter put together well after a few minutes in the KitchenAid blender, and we left it on the balcony because living in Houston means living in a natural fermentation drawer.

Cooper was very interested in our test method.

Cooper was very interested in our test method.

Abigail Rosenthal / Chronicle

It took a while to rise, but the dough was encouragingly puffy when we cut it into squares and poured strawberry, cherry, and mulberry jam into cavities. We baked them at 350 degrees for 17 minutes.

Cake tart before the second proof.

Cake tart before the second proof.

Abigail Rosenthal / Chronicle

As it turned out, these are near Kolaches, but end up being a lot paler, denser, and cookie-like than the fluffy, buttery Kolaches found all over Texas. They’re also a lot less cute.

This is what they looked like after baking.

This is what they looked like after baking.

Abigail Rosenthal / Chronicle

But the jam center is still there, and the cake tarts were a great breakfast as well as coffee. We also plan to try out the other dough recipe and see how that plays out.

And while we haven’t had a hidden gem of a colache from the 20th century with HCC’s collection. Horseradish, cranberries and avocado. I got what I wanted.


I also have loads of cake tarts.




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