KOLACHES - Marie Hotovy (left) and Betty Smith are pictured
teaching Faith and Mary Bohaty during one of the kolache-making
classes they offered at the annual auction for St. Vincent
de Paul Parish in Seward. (SNR photo)|
Kolache-Making Classes A Hit In Seward Parish’s Annual Auction
Story by S.L. Hansen
SEWARD (SNR) - Parishes across the diocese must rely on various
fundraising efforts to make ends meet. Many have developed creative ways to
bring in income.
Each spring, St. Vincent DePaul Parish in Seward hosts a dinner and
auction. What makes this auction extra special is the way parishioners share
their “time and talent.”
A number of men who excel at woodworking produce beautiful items to
sell. Ladies who quilt or embroider make exquisite handcrafted items.
Last year, Father Randall Langhorst, pastor, thought of another
great idea. He is partial to kolaches – the poppy seed variety in
particular. So, he approached a pair of the best bakers in the parish to see
if they would be interested in offering a kolache-making class as an auction
Betty Smith was surprised at the idea. However, Father Langhorst’s
suggestion that younger people would pay for the opportunity to learn how to
make good kolaches was interesting.
Her cousin and friend, Marie Hotovy, was equally intrigued.
“I’m 85,” she said. “At my age there isn’t always something that
comes along that you can do to help the parish.” For both women, kolache
baking is a family tradition rooted in their Czech heritage.
“I learned from my mother, and Betty learned from her mother, too,”
Mrs. Hotovy said. “It was just something that was passed on down the
The ladies agreed to try Father Langhorst’s idea and made the class
available at the 2009 dinner and auction for $35 per person. They were
pleased when seven people signed up. In 2010, they had 11 participants and
hosted two classes. Father Langhorst had offered the church kitchen for the
class, but the ladies demurred. At age 79, Mrs. Smith didn’t want to haul
supplies and materials to the church. She and Mrs. Hotovy decided it would
be easier and more comfortable to work in Mrs. Smith’s kitchen.
As if they had been teaching kolache baking for a lifetime, Mrs.
Hotovy and Mrs. Smith worked out an effective system. At home, Mrs. Hotovy
prepared the first batch of dough, which she brought to Mrs. Smith’s house.
Mrs. Smith, with her table expanded so all the students were seated
comfortably, began the class by demonstrating how to prepare the dough in a
bread machine – a wonderful convenience that takes the chore out of mixing
and kneading. Then, while that batch of dough is rising, the ladies teach
the students how to shape kolaches with Mrs. Hotovy’s dough.
It’s a bit of a time-consuming process to get it right. First, the
buns have to be shaped.
Then the dough must rest before an indentation is made to house the
filling – which is a bit trickier than it looks. It’s all too easy to poke
one’s finger through the dough or to leave one side so shallow that the
filling spills out. This is why kolache making is a skill passed down in
person from generation to generation. Just handing somebody a recipe
wouldn’t work very well.
As each student learns to work with the dough and make the right
shapes, the rolls are filled with all sorts of different homemade and
purchased fillings and set to rise again before baking.
Mrs. Smith keeps her oven going with a steady supply of kolache-laden
pans while Mrs. Hotovy continues to coach the students.
“It’s a two-man show,” Mrs. Smith said.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to do it myself,” her cousin agreed.
By the time Mrs. Hotovy’s dough is used up, the batch made in class
is ready to go. Rapid-rise yeast helps reduce the total time required to get
a tender, airy dough.
A few hours later, 80 or more kolaches are cooled and ready to
sample. Each student receives a dozen to take home, plus the recipe and lots
of good advice for making their own.
Both ladies are pleased to be able to help their parish by using the
skills that God has given them. Mrs. Smith said she’s glad to have another
way to contribute to the parish on her tight budget.
“I’d like to finance the church more, but there is no way I can,”
The kolache-baking class proves that giving time and talent is just
as beneficial as giving money.
“It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do something to help
the parish with their fundraising,” Mrs. Hotovy said.