A piece of cake


Welcome to the ABC of Czech where this season we are discussing vocabulary related to Czech food and cuisine. Today we take a look at Czech cakes and pastries - koláèe a sladké peèivo (or sweet baked goods).

In Czech cuisine the basic ingredient is yeast dough - kynuté tìsto. It makes the buns and cakes soft and fluffy but also quite filling, so in some families they are eaten as the main meal.

Let's start with perhaps the best-known Czech pastry - buchta - and in the plural - buchty. They are yeast buns filled with fruit, plum jam, sweet cheese or ground poppy seeds, and baked in an oven. They can be up to the size of a fist and are usually square - they acquire that shape from sitting right next to each other in a baking tray.

Everyone has a different preference as to the filling of the buchty. For example my favourite are povidlové buchty - buns filled with plum jam. And Martin prefers tvarohové buchty - filled with sweet cottage cheese and raisins. Others prefer poppy seed buns - makové buchty or buchty s mákem (that's just another way of saying it). Those are filled with ground poppy seeds which are first cooked in milk to make the stuffing softer and tastier.

Another favourite traditional Czech cake is koláè or koláèe in the plural. The name comes from the word kolo - meaning circle or wheel. So it's clear that koláèe are round in shape. You cut out a circular shape from yeast dough and place a bit of jam, sweet cheese, ground poppy seeds or virtually any fruit on top of it and bake.

The name koláè was gradually passed on to another type of cake which is no longer round in shape. You just spread the yeast dough across the baking tray and spread it with halved fruits, like plums and apricots, or pieces of apple, blueberries and red currents and bake. There are many regional varieties of koláèe with many different regional names so please don't be confused if you know them under a different name.

And that's all we can fit in today but we'll be back next week. Till then dobrou chu» - bon appetit!