On this blog, the recipe always goes at the top. If you would like to read my yelling into the void, scroll down to the bottom.
- 12 oz sour cream, divided in half
- 3 packets or 6 3/4 teaspoons (21 grams) yeast
- 16 oz (4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 16 oz vegetable shortening
- 2 Tablespoons (25 grams) white sugar
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) kosher salt
- 8 cups flour (960 grams)
- 5 large egg yolks
- 32 oz jam or lekvar for filling
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Time: 30 minutes prep, at least 4 hours to chill, about 20 minutes per dozen to form and bake. Yield: 10-12 dozen These are my go-to cookie around the holidays and I cook them over the course of two or three days, about 3-4 dozen at a time. I usually have multiple jars of jam since I like different flavors, but if you were to do only one flavor you would need about 32 oz of jam to fill all the cookies. As you might have guessed based on the two pounds of fat and eight cups of flour, this yields A LOT of dough. It just barely fits in my mixer, so I recommend you use the largest bowl you have for mixing. If you dont want to make a gross of cookies all at once, this dough freezes wonderfully, just make sure its tightly wrapped. Let it defrost in the fridge for an hour or so before baking, but cold dough is always easier to work with than warm with these cookies.
Mix yeast in one half the sour cream and set aside. Add butter to mixer and whip on medium speed. Add shortening and mix until combined with butter. Add sugar, salt, and flour, a bit at a time. Go slowly, it will make a mess if you dump in a lot all at once. Mix in un-yeasted sour cream and egg yolks . Finally, add the sour cream with yeast and mix until combined. Depending on how warm your kitchen is, your dough may be extremely sticky, but dont worry, it will firm up in the fridge. Divide into two 2.5 lb halves and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or over night. Dough lasts 3 days in the fridge and indefinitely in the freezer if tightly wrapped, although after about a year it might lose some of its flakiness.
Preheat oven to 375*. After dough has chilled, generously flour a table or counter top (I find the larger the better) and a rolling pin. The dough will be pretty firm right from the fridge. Work it with a rolling pin until you roll out a section 1/8 of an inch thick. Keep dough youre not working with in the fridge; warm soft dough becomes very sticky and difficult to work with and is more likely to split open in the oven and spill filling. Use a pizza cutter or a knife to cut dough into 2 inch squares. Fill squares with a generous teaspoon of filling. Be careful not to overfill or the seams will split while baking. Fold the corners together to form crescents and pinch or crimp edges together with fingers or a fork. If the dough becomes too soft, return to the fridge for a few moments before baking.
Place kifli on a baking tray lined with parchment or a silicon mat. They wont expand in the oven so you can fit at least a dozen on a large tray. Bake in the oven 10-12 minutes until the dough just starts to turn golden around the edges. If your dough leaked filling it was either not sealed tightly enough or too warm before going in the oven (I often lose at least a dozen this waythey still taste great, theyre just not too pretty!). Try putting a tray of un-cooked kifli in the fridge before baking if you are having this issue. Let cool on baking tray about 5 minutes and then move to wire rack to cool fully. Be careful, theyll be pretty delicate and while the cookie is warm the filling is like molten lava. Cool completely and then coat with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
The Street Was Desserted
Welcome to Recipes Up Top, my new cooking blog! For my inaugural recipe, Ive decided to share a cookie that has been in my family for a few generations. If your New Years Resolution was to cook and eat healthier, this is not the recipe for you, as you may have surmised based on the two pounds of fat in the recipe! However, if you made a resolution to try new recipes and perfect your cookie baking, youre in luck. This is my go-to Christmas cookie because it yields an absurd amount and is easy to fill with many different flavors. My favorite (or most nostalgic) fillings are strawberry or apricot jam, or prune lekvar (its better than it sounds, I swear!). Its not really Christmas for me until someone makes kiflis.
My family has made these cookies at Christmas for as long as I can remember baking, which is almost as long as I can remember. Some years, we would have multiple batches of kifli when my grandmother, great-aunt, mom, and aunt would all make their own for the holiday. The beginning of my kifli baking journey was mostly me watching and eating jam out of the jar when my moms back was turned. In recent years, however, the kifli baton has been placed firmly in my hands, since my great-aunt, who now in her 80s, has said shes retired from baking such intricate cookies.
Kifli cookies (not to be confused with the crescent-shaped kifli rolls that also come up in a google search for Hungarian Kifli) are a light, flaky pastry cookie with a fruit preserve filling and a dusting of powdered sugar. The cookie and the filling share many common elements with hamantaschen.Another traditional filling for kifli is ground walnuts, although I generally find it a bit too dry. A lot of more modern kifli recipes ditch the yeast and sour cream in favor of cream cheese, but I find that dough loses a lot of flake and tenderness that makes this pastry amazing.
These cookies are usually my go-to when I want to make something special to share with people. Although, now that I say that, I should note that theres something about these cookies that brings out bad luck in me. Not from a baking standpoint, mind you. The cookies themselves always come out great! Its the getting those cookies into other peoples hands that I sometimes have trouble with (and not just because I want to eat them all myself)! I have made these cookies as a Christmas gift for my partner to take home to his family many times and theyve only arrived intact once.
The first time I made them for him they were left in the back seat of my car when I dropped him off at the airport. Another time I shipped them across the country as a surprise but alas, these are not the sturdiest of pastries and arrived in pieces. The next time they were hastily stuffed in a large ziplock bag when all of the cookie tins in the house were claimed for other uses. After five hours on a plane they arrived as crumbs (although Im told his mother turned them into a very good crumble topping, so thats a happy ending at least).This year they survived because I brought them to Rome myself, but the two dozen I brought only lasted about an hour after my arrival. Theyre just too delicious not to eat all at once! The kifli transportation mishap has become a time-honored tradition, but happily that doesnt seem to impact their deliciousness.
My most memorable kifli disaster occurred about ten years ago. After graduating college I took a few further classes at a university very close to my parents house, so I found myself living at home again. While studying, I indulged in a fair amount of stress baking, especially right before major exams. Fun fact: if you bring in cookies on every exam day for an entire semester and then decide to bring them on a random (NOT exam) day the next semester, you will accidentally cause at least one of your classmates to panic in a Pavlovian cookie-exam response. Oops.
During this time, I also started a job at the university library, which is to this day the best part-time job I ever had. The only thing that beat the amount of amazing places nearby for lunch was the access to incredible literature. At no other job could I have handled a copy of Shakespeares First Folio and a kimchi burrito on the same day. As lucky as I was to see the rare books collection, my immediate supervisor was unlucky in that he always happened to not be around when I brought in treats for my coworkers. For weeks this poor graduate student had been hearing about my baked goods but we never saved him any. One day, walking across campus with a classmate, I ran into my boss. As fortune would have it, I happened to be carrying a batch of kiflis! I offered him one, and for a split second, he was happy to finally get a chance to have one of these cookies I was always claiming to bake. I opened the container and in slow motion all the kifli fell to the ground, a feast for the squirrels.
It was like an out of body experience; I can still see the three of us standing there, frozen for a moment, mourning the loss of several dozen cookies. Not knowing what else to do, we continued on, cookieless, leaving the street desserted. However, as of this writing, I have successfully brought kifli to a cookie exchange at work and to Italy without incident, so heres hoping the curse of crumbled kifli is official over.
Long anecdote aside, I hope these cookies work for you and my family recipe can become something special for yours too! Im so excited to finally be starting this blog and to celebrate Ill be posting another recipe tomorrow. Im going to post one recipe every day for the next few days to give the blog a bit of a jump start, and then posts will continue every Monday. I will try to respond to all comments and emails in a timely manner, but Ill be travelling until January 6th, so most updates will be automated until then!