When I asked the woman behind the counter at Gold Star Donuts what a kolache is, she gave me a simple answer: "It's like a pig in a blanket."
Gold Star, which reopened last year after a lenghty hiatus, only recently began making kolaches, which are most frequently found in the U.S. in central Texas. Czech immigrants brought them to the region. They're typically small handheld doughy creations filled with prunes, poppy seeds and cream cheese, but the same dough can also be used to make a savory version known as a klobásníky but often still called a kolache.
That's what they're making at Gold Star, under the name kolache. A Gold Star kolache is a rounded bread, about as long as a hot dog bun, that is stuffed with cheese, a hot dog and cheese or a hot dog, cheese and sliced jalapeñoes. (In typical Gold Star fashion, none of them will cost you more than $2.85.) The bread is light and slightly sweet, almost like a brioche, which goes nicely with the meat and spices.
Gold Star isn't the only kolache maker in the area. Shipley Do-Nuts, a mostly Southern doughnut shop chain based in Texas, also makes them at its Bradenton location. At Shipley, they can come stuffed with either sausage or ham, as well as cheese, and they're priced right around $3. On the weekends, they can sell out, so be sure to stop by early in the morning.
Gold Star Donuts is located at 1246 Whitfield Ave., Sarasota, and is open 6 a.m.-3 p.m. daily. For more info, call (941) 755-1225.
Shipley Do-Nuts is located at 6571 State Road 70, Bradenton, and is open 5 a.m.-2 p.m. daily. For more info, call (941) 201-5468 or visit the shop's website.