Kalach is a yeast-risen bread made throughout Eastern Europe. There are many variants of Kalach Bread.
In Russia, it is a loaf made of white flour formed into the shape of a ring.
The word Kalach came to mean any kind of white bread in Russian.
In Arkhangelsk, on the White Sea, bakers boiled their Kalach dough first in water or milk, and then baked.
It is a braided bread whose dough is made from white flour and eggs. It is glazed with egg wash, and often sprinkled with poppy seed.
It is particularly traditional at Christmas Eve dinner. For Christmas, you divide the dough into 3, and braid it into a circle, let it rise again, then bake it. You can put something heatproof in the middle to make sure the centre stays open. Some make 3 braided circles of bread, baking each circle separate and then stacking them when done. The 3 separate Kalach circles are interpreted as representing the Christian Trinity.
The Kalach Bread is often used as a table centrepiece with a candle in the middle, though some people put candles beside it instead.
The Ukrainian version is very similar to the Jewish bread, challah. In fact, braided bread and candles does sound very close to a Jewish Friday night.
In Poland, they are small individual buns, and called either “Kolatchkies” or “Kolaczyki.”
From the dough, you make 2 to 3 inch (5 to 7 1/2 cm) rounds of dough, about 1 inch (2 1/2 cm) thick. You let them rise, then you make an indent in the middle of the dough with your thumb.
In the indent, you put a sweet filling such as jam, preserved fruits, poppy seeds, or a savoury filling such as cabbage or cheese. You only put a small amount of filling in, about a teaspoon.
You then glaze the bun with a beaten egg, and bake. Ones with sweet fillings are sprinkled with icing sugar when cooled.
A few versions actually have you fold the dough over, and pinch it sealed to make a horn.
Some versions use a dough that isn’t yeast-risen; that is more of a cookie dough instead.
See separate entry on Kolaches.
In Serbia, Kolach is made to celebrate the family saint.
It can be made from a sweet or plain dough, based on the family’s tradition or preferences. A cross made of dough is put on top of the loaf of bread.
When the Kolach is made, the priest comes to your house to bless it.
It is considered bad luck to make it before the actual day.
In Slovenia, it is called “Bozicni kolac” (“bozicni” means “Christmas.”)
It is a tall cylinder, rounded on the top. The bread is yellowy, slightly sweet and crumbly. The top is decorated with small Old Church Slavonic letters pressed into it, and sculptures made from dough.
The letters are made by pressing a wooden stamp into the dough. The sculptures can be anything — animals, fruit, etc.
The bread is usually made Christmas Eve, but not eaten till Christmas day owing to the eggs and milk in it, as Christmas Eve is traditionally a fasting day in Slovenia.
Some people cheat and use just frozen bread dough.
Kalach is also spelled in English as “kolach”, with the plural being spelled and pronounced “kolache.”
Given that is actually “Калач” in Russian, “Kalach” (using “a’s” instead of “o’s”) is actually a more accurate transliteration into Latin characters.
The spelling used by Ukrainian English speakers, though, of “koloch”, reflects the Ukrainian word for “circle”, which is “kolo.”
Kalashnikis a Russian word for a baker; someone who bakes “Kalach”.
“Kalashnikov” is a last name meaning “son of a baker”. Mikhail Kalashnikov is the man who designed the AK47.
Some speculate that Kalach came from a Tartar word meaning “hunger”; others think it comes from a verb such as “kolataty” in Ukrainian which means “knead.”