Homemade kolachi highlights Cookie Walk

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Tess Szenborn, above left, and Paulette Jamrozik roll out dough to make kolachi during a Wednesday baking session at St. Joseph the Provider Church of Christ, The Good Shepherd Parish in Campbell. They’re preparing for a Cookie Walk on Saturday sponsored by St. Joseph Cultural Society. Below, dough is spread with a layer of nuts during the kolachi-making project. The Cookie Walk will feature homemade cookies including clothespin and pizzelles along with kolachi.




It took only 40 minutes for the homemade baked goods to sell out at the 2012 Cookie Walk sponsored by St. Joseph Cultural Society at St. Joseph the Provider Church.

So, if you want to have Christmas cookies and kolachi on your yule table, be advised — those who hesitate will go home empty-handed.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, customers will be allowed into the parish hall 10 at a time to limit congestion. They’ll walk by tables laden with baked goods lined up in the shape of a big “u.” Even if you have to stand in line, there’s coffee while you wait.

This week, church members who make the kolachi got together.

They also are part of the crew that makes pirogi from September to May.

On Wednesday, the group sat in the parish hall assembling cookie boxes while the dough was rising in the kitchen.

Dorothy Stellmar, St. Joseph Cultural Society vice president, said the group of about 20 members honors the ethnic heritage of the church at 633 Porter Ave. while embracing the multicultural face of Christ, The Good Shepherd Parish. Other churches in the parish are St. John the Baptist Church, 159 Reed Ave., and St. Lucy Church/Sta. Rosa de Lima, 394 Tenney Ave. The society uses the proceeds for events it sponsors such as the St. Joseph day dinner and also donates to the parish. Stellmar said, “This is about working together.”

Brenda Snitzer, a member since 1986, said the kolachi recipe is “a family one.” “There’s a lot of care and love in it,” she said.

She coordinates the baking of some 120 kolachi with nuts, apricot and prune. “We’re a fine-tuned ensemble,” she said of the baking crew, which she praised for its teamwork.

For Tess Szenborn, a lifelong church member, being involved in the Cookie Walk is part of “carrying on a tradition.” “This helps preserve the heritage of what started long ago at our church,” she said.

Sandy Redeske, a 60-year church member and secretary of the cultural society, said she felt volunteering for the church was important. “I do whatever I can to help,” she said.

Redeske, of Italian heritage, said the parish and cultural society embrace the various heritages in the church that include Polish, Croatian, Hungarian and Lithuanian. “They’re all at the table,” she said.

Fran Masi, a 60-year church member, said she likes being part of the baking crew because it’s fun and she likes the camaraderie. She voiced a shared concern among the group ... losing ethnic food traditions. “When we can’t do this anymore, will it disappear?” she wondered.

If that were to happen, it would be a blow to the many pirogi lovers who receive the frozen ethnic food sent from relatives in the Valley. Masi said she’s heard the St. Joseph pirogi travels to California, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, New York and the Carolinas. “The pirogi travels more than we do,” Masi said.

The group acknowledged preparing and baking the kolachi and putting in the 7 a.m.-to-3 p.m. pirogi days took time. But, they all said, those efforts are well worth the benefit for the church. The faith, fun and fellowship they share is a bonus.

Once the dough had risen, the group began making “dough balls” for each kolachi. “It’s basically by feel,” Snitzer said of the size of the dough ball, which would rise again.

Then the group worked on rolling out the dough, adding fillings of nuts, apricot and prune. Each roll is placed into an individual pan and “form fits” to it. The aroma of the baking rolls permeated the kitchen and hall.

The project used about 25 pounds of nuts, six dozen eggs and 40 ounces of yeast. The ingredients were donated by the group.

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