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In The Family
What’s a Texas Kolache?

How a Czech pastry took over the Lone Star State.

Most of Texas’s famous food icons come from its border relationship with Mexico, but a few key traditions have more distant origins. That includes the kolache, a puffy fist-sized yeasted bun stuffed with a sweet fruit filling or a savory knot of sausage and jalapeños.

Across the state, the little pastries are as popular as doughnuts and frequently appear at church socials. Kolaches came to Texas by way of the Czech immigrants who settled there in the 19th century, and who established rural communities of their own in the late 1800s. Back in the old country, kolaches were exclusively sweet: round or square buns with hollow centers for jam, fruit pastes, poppy seeds, or sweetened farmer’s cheese.

But in Texas, savory sausage-filled buns—technically klobasniky in Czech, though you can try telling that to a Texan—are also a hit, and the unique inclusion of spicy chiles is a fitting tribute to the state’s proud fusion cuisine.

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Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.