The Dish: Kolache Showdown

Beth Stallings

Kolache Republic owner Doug Sauer wants to make one thing clear: No, he does not offer the little Polish cookies many associate with the word "kolache," but what he is baking up is the Czech version of the Eastern European treat. And it looks and tastes different than its Polish cousin. The opening of this specialty bakery in the Brewery District in July led us to ask the question-what exactly constitutes an authentic kolache? "There are a lot of versions of the kolache," explains Angry Baker owner Vicki Hink, who grew up making the fruit-filled pastry at home. And while there aren't too many spots where you can grab a kolache in Columbus, here's a sampling of which styles you can find.

Polish: Giant Eagle Market District

Admittedly, these come frozen to store bakeries from a Giant Eagle distributor, but they are also the only version of the classic Polish creation we could locate around town. Market District has offered the folded version (49 cents each) filled with raspberry, apricot, cheese or nuts since opening three years ago, and it's one of their top sellers. "It's like a soft butter cookie," says bakery manager Debbie Hulet. "They're really melt-in-your-mouth."

Czech: Kolache Republic

"It has the sweetness of a dinner roll, but it's not like a doughnut or Danish," says Sauer of his Czech-by-way-of-South-Texas kolaches ($2 each). Sauer opened Kolache Republic with Rick Jardiolin and Dusty Kotchou after a successful three-year run at the Clintonville Farmers' Market. The bakery uses a slightly sweet yeast dough to surround fillings like blueberry cream, chocolate, poppy seed and almond, alongside savory options like kielbasa.

Somewhere in Between: The Angry Baker

This kolache-sandwich has been in the Angry Baker case since the Olde Towne East shop opened three years ago. It's an ode to the owners' Polish heritage, with a dough recipe based off of Vicki Hink's grandmother's version. It's slightly sweet, and heavily yeasted, she says, leaving it fluffy as it wraps the savory fillings-most commonly Bluescreek Farm ham, local Swiss and whole-grain Dijon. "It's a mix between the classic Polish version and the Czech one," Hink says. You'll find this savory kolache in the case daily for $2.75. Hink is also working with a retailer on a line of kolaches that should be available all over Ohio next year.