OK Czechs return to ‘original recipe’ kolache

24,000 doughy pastries being readied for Yukon Czech Day

Oklahoma Czechs’ volunteers bake kolache inside the Czech Building at 5th and Cedar. There are two kolache-baking crews, led by Yukon’s Janice VanBrunt and Kim Rex. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Back to the original recipe.

Bakers Aspen Hein (left) and Tori Sharpe place a tray of kolache in the oven. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

That’s exactly what members of the Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. decided on for this year’s kolache baking.

At least 24,000 of these traditional Czech pastries will be sold during the 57th Annual Oklahoma Czech Festival on Saturday, Oct. 7 in Yukon.

Kolache bakers started preparing the popular, doughy treats just after July 4th – and will continue baking through August inside the Czech Building, 5th and Cedar.

Eight flavors will be sold individually and by the dozen: Apple, apricot, cherry, cream cheese, lemon, poppy seed, prune, and strawberry.

The 2023 Oklahoma Czech kolache-baking volunteers are:

Andy Baker, Andy Berlson, Jackie Benson, Marilyn Berousek, Kay Edwards, Amanda Erwin, Ann Folk Cresap, Earl Folk, Elise Friese, Rachel Gering, Lisa Gigstad Francel, Paul Francel, Joyce Hamann, Annetta Hein, Aspen Hein, Karaleen Jordan, Debbie Kessler, Betty Kolar, Marilyn Kraemer, Patti Krobsach, John Mason, Julie Mason, Mike Mason, Kathy Notley, Madelyn Novosad, Gloria Olvera, Jaime Olvera, Shirley Reed, Kate Rex, Kim Rex, Marj Seeliger, Tori Sharpe, Kaybree Shedeck, Lucy Shedeck, Milo Shedeck, Emily Stanfill, Hannah Thomason, Evelyn Tilson, Peggy Turner, Jim Tyson, and Janice VanBrunt.

Oklahoma Czechs’ volunteers put the finishing touches on trays of fresh-baked kolache: From left, Linda Hlinicky, Lucy Shedeck and Milo Shedeck. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

Two crews work in shifts.

Yukon’s Janice VanBrunt, who’s been baking for 42 years, heads one crew that bakes on Tuesdays and every other Saturday.

Yukon’s Kate Rex and her mother Kim are part of an Oklahoma Czech family of bakers. Kim’s father David Landes – a past Oklahoma Czechs’ president – became a legend for the delicious Czech breads he would bake for each festival. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

“We have such a great group of people helping us this year,” VanBrunt said. “We’re going back to the official Oklahoma Czech kolache recipe, and the individual sweet kolache recipe.

“Both of those will be available on Czech Day. Please come and try us. I know you will not be disappointed!”

The other kolache crew, led by Yukon’s Kim Rex, bakes on Mondays and every other Saturday.

“We’ve been working hard to meet the standards of our original bakers,” Rex said.

The 1988-89 Oklahoma Czech queen, Rex was just 8 years old when she started helping her father David Landes bake his mouth-watering Czech breads.



“We’ve been baking kolache since the first festival in 1966,” Rex shared. “They used to be baked in different people’s homes before we built this building (in the early ‘70s).

Oklahoma Czech-Slovak Queen Jayden Mason prepares some fruit-filled kolache inside the Czech Building kitchen. She is headed to Wilbur, Neb. to compete in the National Czech Queen Pageant. (Photo provided)

“Those ladies who used to bake individually got together and decided on the official Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. recipe.”

This week, the Oklahoma Czech bakers surpassed 12,000 kolache prepared for this year’s Czech heritage celebration.

During Yukon’s Czech Day on the first Saturday of October, kolache is sold (as supplies last) inside the Czech Building and at a booth near the northeast corner of Fifth and Main.

Best sellers are cherry, cream cheese and apricot.

VanBrunt’s favorite flavor is apricot while Rex prefers cherry above the rest.

“The traditional Czech favorites are poppy seed and prune,” Rex pointed out.

Oklahoma Czechs have settled on eight flavors after testing several others, like pineapple, blueberry, peach, and raspberry.

The bakers reminded the public about the proper spelling of their taste-tempting pastry – kolace is singular and kolache is plural. “Kolaches” is not a proper spelling.

Oklahoma Czechs’ Janice VanBrunt (left) and Kim Rex head up the kolache baking crews. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)