A typical recipe for kolache dough calls for 2 1/4-ounce packages of yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup shortening and 3 teaspoons salt. It also requires 2 egg yolks, 6 1/4 cups bread flour and 6 tablespoons unsalted butter.
To mix the dough, combine the yeast, the 1 tablespoon sugar and the water in a mixing bowl, and let sit until bubbles form. In a saucepan, heat the milk until it reached 98 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, stir in the shortening until melted, then remove from heat, cool slightly, and whisk in the 1/2 cup sugar, the lightly beaten egg yolks and the salt. Stir the milk mixture into the yeast mixture, then add the flour 1 cup at a time. Use either the dough hook on a standing mixer or a wooden spoon to work the dough until it is smooth, shiny and no longer sticky. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, approximately one hour, then punch it down.
To form the pastries, divide the dough into 36 balls, then place them 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets. Melt the butter, and brush it on the balls, cover them, and let rise 20 minutes longer. Make a well in the top of each ball, spoon the desired filling into each well, then let the pastries rise another hour. Sprinkle with a crumb topping, and bake for about 25 minutes at 375 degrees.