By Mary Crafts-Homer
I was born and raised in Iowa and learned to cook in my mother’s kitchen. She was known as one of the best cooks in the county and loved to entertain. I guess I’m kind of a chip off the old block!
One of my favorite outings with my mom was to visit the Czech community for a stop at the bakery for a kolache. I can still remember the smell of that soft sweet dough and the variety of fruit fillings piping hot from the ovens. This is the stuff memories are made of.
When I heard that kolache had made its way to Utah, I was intrigued to see if it could match the delicious memories of my childhood. I was off to Provo’s Center Street (434 West, to be precise) to a tiny spot known as Hruska’s Kolache. I sat outside for a while to see how much business this unassuming location could generate. I was quite surprised to see dozens of smiling “regulars” streaming in and out of the door with their bags of kolache. Further investigation was needed!
Upon entering the little store, I was greeted with friendly faces and a single case stuffed full of some of my old favorite fruit pastries. However, Hraska’s had added a new twist of savory kolache, so I ordered one of everything in the case: 12 varieties of savory and 6 varieties of sweet. The price was super affordable and all I needed now were taste testers to help! I headed back to Culinary Crafts’ corporate commissary to find some of Utah’s hardest food critics to help with all the tasting, and my chefs and sales team were happy to oblige.
The overall favorite was the Pulled Pork, with a close second for the Ham & Jalapeño. Other favorites included the Bacon, Garlic Sausage, and Sausage & Gravy. The reason so many loved the savory ones was the quality of the filling ingredients: Homemade sausage, fresh eggs, hand-made dough, and lots of tender loving care.
When all was said and done, I still liked the sweet fruit kolache the best. Too many childhood memories, I guess. I’m not sure these were as good as the ones I remember from those plump Czech bakers of my youth, but the entrepreneurial spirit of this brothers-and-sister team is pretty hard to beat. They won my heart with stories of their Czech ancestors and desire to keep their traditions alive.
Hruska’s opens 6 days a week at 6:30 a.m., and they sell their breakfast pastries until they are gone. It’s best to show up early as the 800 kolache go pretty fast — especially on Saturdays.
As we get closer to summer, kolache will be the perfect thing to grab as I head out to the mountains for a day hike or just want to treat myself to a scrumptious pastry served up with a smile.
This home-grown successful venture is about to open a second location in Sugar House.
Until next time, remember to fill your life with scrumptious food and love. — Mary