Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over the yeast and dissolve in lukewarm water. Set aside to rise.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan; add the shortening to dissolve. Allow to cool to lukewarm; then add salt, slightly-beaten egg yolks & sugar.
It is only necessary to heat the milk until the shortening melts. Any additional heating just requires more cooling time. Butter may be substituted for the shortening. Butter not only adds a richer flavor but also melts at a lower temperature so it does not take as long to melt. Use a thermometer to gauge when the milk is cool enough to add to the yeast mixture without killing the culture. May chill in refrigerator if closely watched and frequently stirred.
Combine milk-egg mixture and yeast mixture. Add flour gradually and work dough by hand or with a mixer until glossy. Keep it a little sticky, if at all possible.
[Use bread flour if at all possible. Bread flour creates a much more airy result than all-purpose flour. About the first three cups of flour can be added in the beginning. Stir with a wooden spoon until too heavy to handle. Gather dough
together with clean, floured hands, and knead. If the dough sticks to your hands or the surface, a little more flour is needed. Add flour by putting
a slightly thicker coat on hands and surface. Continue to knead until the dough acquires a sheen.
Cover, place in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise until double
in bulk, about 45 minutes to an hour.
[You can tell if the dough has doubled by pushing two floured fingers
into the top of the dough about 1/2 inch deep. If the impressions
remain, the dough has doubled.]
After the dough has risen, punch down the dough, and lightly knead.
Divide into egg-sized portions with a spoon and form balls. Place in
well oiled baking pans about an inch apart and butter well; half
margarine may be substituted, but some butter is essential for the
One may also "pinch off" the large egg-sized portions from the dough
mass. It is best if the "raw" edges are kept to just one or two. Work
the portion into a ball shape by pushing the raw ends down and under.
Pinch any openings together and roll the ball between your hands to
shape and smooth.
Let rise (about 15 minutes), then make indentations in the dough balls
for the fruit filling. Fill each indention with a large teaspoon full
of fruit filling.
Use your thumb and forefinger to spread the dough and make a deep, round hole. The indention must be firm and deep or the filling will spill out while rising or when in the oven.
Butter each kolache well. Over the fruit filling, generously sprinkle
Place pans of kolache in a warm, draft free place, and allow to
double in bulk again, about 45 minutes to one hour.
Place in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake until golden brown.
[Some recipes say that the kolaches will brown in 20 to 40 minutes.
Browning time can vary by the type of pan used. It is best to avoid dark pans. Check the bottoms of the kolaches to ensure they do not burn.]
Remove the kolaches from the oven and slather with melted butter.
Cool slightly, remove from pans, and cool on wire racks.