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Food availability slightly improved after the 1956 Revolution and from about the age of seven I remember having a cup of hot cocoa and a fresh buttered kifli for breakfast. Every morning my grandma would go down to the Dohány utcai Tejcsarnok [it was a milk store] to buy us fresh milk and kifli. Grandma stood in line by 7AM or shortly thereafter. It was the time for the morning truck to come with baskets full of freshly baked crusty kifli, buns and a few specialty items like brioche. Timing was of essence, because half an hour later all the kifli was gone. When grandma arrived home with the kifli I just had enough time to eat one and I was off to school.

Jenőke, Nagymama and Zsuzsa with kifli

Different from French croissant, kifli is from yeasted dough, [containing butter] and shaped into a thin crescent. I have seen a few giant kifli in my time, some the size of 2 kg bread, but these are novelties. This one is your everyday vajas [butter] kifli.

Do not try it; it is not possible to make a large kifli with dry yeast. Dough from dry yeast can never get as high and lofty as from fresh yeast. At a certain size, kifli made with dry yeast just spreads out into a flattened shape. Don’t use bread flour for kifli, instead use all purpose flour. Kifli should be crunchy when bit into, but all soft on the inside. The consistency of the dough, the size and the thickness rolled into all influence the kifli’s texture. This dough is firm, but not stiff. After kneading, you will not have to flour the board to roll it and shape it. Therefore, you would not want added flour stiffening the dough. This in turn reminded me of the importance of exact measuring. For interest, I measured out 4 cups of all-purpose flour into my largest measuring cup. Then I measured it again with the 1/2 cup scoop-and-sweep method. Would you believe I had 3/4 cups of excess flour in the large measuring cup? Now imagine how stiff this dough would have been with 3/4 cup of extra flour! So to have it just right, follow the recipe.

4 cups flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 package instant dry yeast
1 cup milk, lukewarm
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 Tbsp sour cream
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter for brushing
1 egg yolk for egg wash

• In a large bowl measure out the flour with the 1/2 cup scoop-and-sweep method .
• Whisk together the flour, sugar and the instant dry yeast.
• Add the lukewarm milk, melted butter, sour cream and the salt. [Add the salt last, because it can inhibit the yeast action.]
• Combine ingredients; the dough will be firm but not stiff.
• Kneed the dough until smooth and elastic.
• Shape the dough into a ball and cover with the bowl.
• Let the dough rise until it doubles in size.
• Meanwhile line 2 baking sheets with parchment and lightly brush with butter.
• When the dough has doubled in size, divide into two equal parts.
• Roll the first dough to a 32 inch X 8 inch rectangle.
• Cut into 8 squares.
• Repeat with the remaining dough. You now have 16 squares.
• Place a square on the board and with a rolling pin stretch the 4 inch square to a 5 inch by 5 inch square.
• Turn the square on its end; you now have a fat diamond shape.
• Stretch out the closest corner with the rolling pin.
• Roll it up starting from the top and curve it into a crescent.
• Place on a greased baking sheet.
• Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the squares.
• Brush the tops with melted butter.
• Let crescents rise until doubled in size.
• Then glaze the tops with egg wash.
• Preheat oven to 400F.
• When the oven temperature is at 400F, place the crescents in the oven and bake until light golden brown.
• These are best fresh; eat them on the same day.


  1. Zsuzsa, they are fantastic. I love reading about your youth too. It's always very moving.
    I rarely make yeast cakes or pastry because I cannot stop eating them and cry afterwards!.
    However, I must say I have very good results with dried yeast. I even have better results with this than with fresh yeast, which can be moody and the quality of which is sometimes lower...

  2. I tend to eat more of it too, probably because its so much better when it is homemade, and yes, dried yeast is more consistent than fresh. I found that fresh yeast is stronger especially with free form baking. If there is no support or the items are not packed close together as in the case of kifli, there is a limit to the size without spreading. Then again the flour we have may have something to do with that. Oh well, I cannot get fresh yeast anyway.

  3. I just love, love, love your blog. My Hungarian Aunt taught me to make kifle; but she puts apricot-butter in them. We also use dry yeast. I made them for a cookie exchange at work & the women went nuts!! Do you ever roll them with a fruit filling?? If so, do you have a recipe?

    1. For filled "kifli" we always use a sweeter dough, with more butter, and made them smaller.

  4. Hi there. Thinking of you today, making my Hungarian Aunt's apricot "kifli." Do you ever make your own lekvar or apricot lekvar to put in your kifli? If so, do you use dried apricots?

  5. Hello and sorry for the hasty first answer. Kifli refers to the shape. There are all kinds of kifli. What you describe would be called Lekváros Kifli. You can make it two ways, either with a yeast based dough, much like this one or with a linzer like buttery pastry. Take a look at my other kifli recipes: Walnut Crescents – Dióskifli and Pozsony Nut Crescents – Pozsonyi Kifli.

    Yes to all counts, you can fill either of these kiflis with apricot jam or with chopped up dried apricots. You can use commercial jam too, just make sure it is a thick jam and not a runny one. Most of the jam filled kifli is filled with very thick Hungarian plum jam, it is so thick the spoon stands up in it. A runnier apricot jam could be combined with ground nuts as in the case of rugelach. I would not cook jam from dried apricots, it would not taste very good and I would have a problem with the texture. Just chop them up and fill the crescents with the apricot bits as is. Or you could combine a small amount of jam with the chopped apricots. Good luck!

  6. Cannot wait to try this :)

    My boyfriend is Hungarian, and we've been together nearly five years, and only this summer did I get to visit where he is from and try the amazing thing that is Kifli! And now I am hooked!

    1. Let me know how they turn out. :-)

  7. I just found your postings and a so looking forward to trying the kiflis. I am Hungarian and I LOVE to bake. Got that from my grandma. I make my own lekvar and it keeps for years in jars

  8. I am Hungarian and I LOVE to cook and bake. I am sooo looking forward to making this for my family. We have a Hungarian bakeshop that has these but there is nothing like making your own. Will let you know how they turn out

    1. Marg you are so lucky to have a Hungarian bakeshop nearby. I have to agree though homemade is best.

  9. Excellent kifli, I just made it and my whole family loved it !!!
    Thank you !
    Elisabeth Karloczy

    1. Thanks for letting me know. You made my day.

  10. I love making homemade breads, I have been making all of my families bread since the beginning of the year. My dad's family is Hungarian but I was never able to eat any of the Hungarian food since my great grandmother was in her late 90's. I would love to be able to make this for my dad I am sure he would love it!

  11. Hi Zsuzsa,

    Could you estimate how long it would take for the dough to double in size? I want to make these in the morning for my dad for breakfast this week, but it will depend on how long the rising takes.



    1. It all depends on the temperature, how accurate you measured and the type of yeast and flour used. 1-2 hours?

  12. Hello Zsuzsa! I just wanted to thank you so much for your fantastic recipe. I have tried many Kifli recipes, but this one is by FAR the best. The last few batches I've been using fresh yeast a German friend brought for me, and that really elevated the tangy taste. Lately I've been proofing the dough overnight. So flavourful!
    My father was born in Budapest in 1945, and spent his childhood there. We did visit a few years ago (his first time back in 50 years) and my mum and I got hooked on Kifli. He has a lot of bittersweet memories about his Hungarian heritage, so sadly I do not speak Magyar, but the day I made Kifli for him here in Canada, he was so touched. It has been so special for us to share something so simple. Thank you so much for sharing your stories as well, it's so important to celebrate these people who worked so hard despite incredible adversity!
    Köszönöm szépen

    1. Hello CB and thank you. Some of the best things in our memories is something we used to like as kids. You are a good daughter. Oh and yes, fresh yeast is the best.

  13. I think this is what my Hungarian friend and her two year old refer to as Kiki. I would love to make it for them, if I make it on an afternoon and take it to them the next morning- would it still be okay? Want to make sure it's fresh, but traveling to them is not so easy.

    Thank you!

    1. Kifli should be eaten the same day it is made.




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