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Jan 16, 2008 04:45 AM

Kifla recipe, please?

Kifla is a Romanian holiday delicacy (at least for my family, which originally came to this country from northern Transylvania, close to the current-day Hungarian border), consisting of a sweet bread dough rolled with a walnut/sugar (I think brown sugar) filling. It is one of my childhood cravings, but unfortunately, my Romanian grandmother is no longer around to share her recipe (which anyway would have been something like "a handful of this, a pinch of that"). Does anyone by chance have a good kifla recipe?

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  1. My family is also from Transylvania - so we also ate kifli. What I remember, though, is something more like a pastry dough rather than bread dough. Anyway I'm going to suggest you do a google search for KIFLI (not kifla) and you'll find dozens of recipes. One of those will probably be what you remember. It seems that every village, every family, every cook had her own version of kifli. I suspect this is still true today. I visited that area last summer and it's still pretty unspoiled by globalism!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Nyleve

      Wow, I'd never heard of it referred to as kifli before! It sounds as though you are describing it perfectly! Thanks for the spelling tip; I'll try it. You're right about the unspoiled nature of the Transylvanian countryside; the only traffic jam I encountered on a trip a couple years back was caused by a flock of sheep! What part of the country is your family from?

      1. re: laurie

        My mother was from Oradea and my father was born in Medias Aurit, which is not far from Satumare, but he lived for many years in Cluj. What a place that is. We did a family roots trip last summer through those towns, plus another one, even more remote - Comlausa. The womens' Sunday dress outfits were unbelievable. The food - the mamaliga! - was fantastic.

        1. re: Nyleve

          I am headed to Cluj next week! Off the subject but I'd love any tips or suggestions for places to see and eat if you have any. I don't know what to expect! Thanks :)

          1. re: Kitzy

            I wish I'd kept better notes in Romania. Unlike my usual trips, this one was planned by another family member and I was just along for the ride, so to speak. In Cluj we stayed at a couple of different hotels - the first is better left unnamed; a relic of Socialist Moderne with surly and inept staff to boot. The second - the Opera Plaza - was much nicer and well located downtown. We did, however, have dinner in this really bizarre restaurant - Casa Acorana (sp?) (in the basement level of the Sora shopping mall, of all places) which was one of those folkloric places with musicians and stuff. The food was all very traditional Transylvanian - mamaliga, sausagey things, etc. It was an extremely fun evening - my usually grumpy uncle Jack ended up dancing to the gypsy music. There was wine but, of course, it wasn't fabulous.

            That's pretty much all my recommendations for Cluj.

            Oh one more thing - there's an interesting street market downtown (on Saturday, I think). Beautiful produce and very nice honey. I also came home with some handmade wooden spoons which I use all the time. Shouldn't be hard to find out where it's located - I can't remember street names right now.

      2. re: Nyleve

        Google "Beigli" and you should find what you are all searching for. The leavened, egg bread pastry ("Kalács") is pale yellow, breadish, slighty sweet and has a hard, shiny brown crust, right?

        "Kifli" are the smaller, white, crescent-shaped pastries with the texture of short bread and are also filled with walnut or poppy seed confection.


        1. re: DockPotato

          Ohhhh, bingo, this sounds like it! I'll Google beigli and let you know. . . .

      3. Over Christmas, I made my neighbor's holiday recipe for kolache, which is what you describe: very rich pastry wrapped jelly-roll style around a ground walnut/sugar/egg white/vanilla filling. (Just did a search for kifli, and it's not the same, since kifli seems to be an individual pastry, and my neighbor's kolache is a loaf.) If you're interested, I'll post her recipe. She said it's a czech pastry, but perhaps a different name for the same item? I think kolache is a very broad term.

        It was quite delicious.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Leucadian

          I posted the recipe in the following thread, which was looking for the same pastry with a different name, orahnjaca, from Croatia. does this look familiar?

          Note that it has an unusual way of incorporating the butter, by hand kneading it after all the other ingredients have been combined, i.e. into the dough. This might be a concession to not having a mixer, but I've never seen it before. Has anyone else?

        2. Nyleve, my family is from the countryside outside of the Satu Mare, so our kin are pretty close! We spent one night in Cluj during our "roots" road trip and really enjoyed that college town. As for the Sunday finery, are you describing the Gypsies (I was fascinated to see that covered wagon encampments were still common!) or the folk dress of the Maramures region, which is a little north of what we're describing?

          Nyleve and Leucadian, I also checked out kifli on Google and, while it reminds me of cookies that my grandmother made, it isn't the kifla that I'm describing. Kifla as I know it is a sweet bread, somewhat similar to a coffee cake, except the walnut and sugar mixture is rolled into the dough (kind of like a jellyroll) then baked. These aren't individual servings, but loaves of bread about the size of a loaf bread you would buy at the grocery store. As a kid I would eat it for breakfast with a little butter or as a snack. Does this ring a bell?

          6 Replies
          1. re: laurie

            What you're describing sounds more like a babka type thing. We would often have babka for breakfast - even the chocolate kind! - warmed up slightly and served with butter. But our kifli probably comes closer to rugelach really - individual rolled pastries with a rich pastry dough, not yeast.

            We came upon the Sunday dress when we travelled up toward the Ukranian border - yes, north of Satu Mare. Had a wonderful lunch in Comlausa at the home of a family friend who still lives there. Gorgeous vegetarian cabbage rolls (made with rice and mushrooms), delicious local cheese, this delicious green bean dish (a little saucy and nicely overcooked), a veal stew of some sort, sliced meats and vegetables and - of course - homemade slivovitz which could just about singe your eyebrows off. It was an amazing experience to be eating the same food my parents would have had in a place near where they were born.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Oh, your photos are wonderful! I'm going to look up Comlausa; I'm betting it's in Maramures, which is close to the Ukranian border. And the description of your feast makes my mouth water. I have never seen a vegetarian version of Romanian stuffed cabbage (another important staple of my youth). Is the slivovitz similar to the pulinca (homemade plum liquor) that we were served in just about every home we visited?

              I'll Google babka and let you know if that fits the bill. . . .

              1. re: laurie

                You know what - I think it was actually palinka, not slivovitz. My memory is playing tricks on me. My father always kept a bottle of slivovitz in the cupboard - so that's what I remember. But the stuff we were served in Romania was palinka. You'd take a sip and, at first you would feel it burning as it went down your throat. But then it would disperse into your body - the extremities were first to go. Arms and legs. My cousin and I loved it because it reminded us of our hippie drug days.

                And yes, it was in Maramures. Absolutely.

                When my husband and I first got married, my dad used to offer him a shot of slivovitz most evenings before dinner. This was, for my husband, a bonding moment.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Well, you are braver with the palinka than I was! A mere whiff of it made my eyelids do summersaults. . . .

                  1. re: laurie

                    Yeah, but once you get through the somersaults it's great.

            2. re: laurie

              Laurie - I come from Northern Romania (Bucovina), and in Romanian, for me 'chifla' means 'bread roll' (nothing fancy, btw). Chifle with a famer's cheese sweet filling are 'branzoaice'.

              What you describe, especially given its festive nature, sounds more like 'cozonac cu nuca' to me. In my family, we only make it with raisins, but the fillings can range from walnuts and honey to poppy seeds and jam, Here are some pictures - let me know if you need a recipe.

            3. Ok, I've researched both beigli and babka, and beigli (which is Hungarian) looks the closest to what I know as kifla. Which makes sense, since the villages where my grandparents were born are very close to the present-day Hungarian border (and were once under Austro-Hungarian rule), and the streets signs are still bilingual (Romanian and Hungarian) even to this day. Babka also looks similar, but not as close as beigli. Thanks to both of you for your help!

              1. Here's my family's recipe from Slovenia. Not sure if this comes close, but in any case, they're wonderful. Traditional Christmas cookie for us.


                2 cups flour
                1/4 tsp salt
                1 small cake yeast
                1/2 cup margarine
                2 egg yolks
                1/2 cup sour cream

                Sift flour and salt into mixing bowl. Crumble in yeast. Cut in margarine with pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add egg yolks and sour cream and mix well. Form into a ball and place on a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Divide dough into 3 parts. Wrap in waxed paper and chill for about 2 hours.


                1 cup finely ground walnuts
                1/2 cup sugar
                1 tsp vanilla
                2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

                Heat oven to 375. Combine walnuts and sugar. Fold into beaten egg whites. Add vanilla and blend. Set aside. Sprinkle board with powdered sugar and roll each part of dough into a 9-inch circle. Cut each into 8 pie-shaped wedges. Fill the wide end of each wedge with a rounded teaspoon of filling and roll from wide end to point. Tuck point underneath. Place on lightly greased baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar.

                2 Replies
                1. re: chattahoochee

                  This sounds delicious, and very similar to some wonderful cookies we buy locally at a little produce market. I'm going to give this a try!

                  1. re: laurie

                    Laurie, your description of kifla sounds like Slovenian potica to me. I have family recipes for that wonderful bread as well, but have been too intimidated to try it. If you have success with beigli, please post the recipe.
                    My family came from an area of eastern Europe that was under Austrian rule at the time of their journey in the early 1900's. Courageous people with a wonderful talent for baking. Wish I had paid more attention as a child when grandma was demonstrating her art. That woman rarely left the kitchen unless she was in the garden tending the vegetables.
                    Hope you enjoy the kifle recipe!