Kiflice (pronounced something like keef-lee-tze) is an essential part of everyone’s childhood around the Balkans. Ask any Serbian and they will tell you that everyone’s mom or grandma makes the best ones in the world. They’re easy to make, quick to bake, filled with cheese, jam, nutella or anything you fancy! Recently, I have been loving pizza kifle made with salami, cheese and tomato paste. They are a great savoury treat made with a softer, buttery, fluffier layered dough which makes them delightful to eat! Give these pizza kifle a go next time you feel like baking up a treat for your friends or family. They also make a great addition to kids lunchboxes, we had these for lunch at school many times as kids and I absolutely loved them!
ORIGIN OF KIFLE
This type of pastry is a common type of bread roll throughout much of central Europe and nearby countries, where it is called by different names. In Hungarian it is called Kifil, Kipferl in Austrian German, rogal in Polish and kifla (pl. kiflice) in Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian.
Kifla or Kiflice, are crescent-shaped pastries which are considered to be the oldest-surviving pastry shape. They are believed to represent an ancient pagan tradition involving offerings to the moon goddess Selene. Pastries of similar shape have been baked since roughly the 10th century in monasteries. In Vienna, kipfel, dates back to at least the 13th century. It is believed they traditionally baked kipfel in monasteries during Easter.
A common culinary myth also claims that when Christian forces freed Buda from the Ottoman occupation, the bakers of the town celebrated the victory the next day by selling freshly baked bread rolls made into a crescent shape. Another story claims the kipfel was invented in Vienna after or during the siege of the city by Ottoman Turks. This pastry is possibly the inspiration for the French croissant, which has a similar shape but is made with a different type of dough.
REGULAR / SAVOURY – Regular kifle are made to be enjoyed as a savoury treat or as a savoury addition to your breakfast, brunch or even dinner. They can be made with feta cheese, regular cheese, plain, or as a pizza kifle like in this recipe! When they go into the oven, the rolls can be given an egg wash and sprinkled with poppy seeds. Kifle are typically eaten like bread or rolls -sometimes plain or with butter. Often, especially for breakfast, if they are baked plain, the topping is jam or honey.
SWEET – Sweet kiflice are made as a treat and are often filled with different types of jam or nutella. They are eaten at the end of a meal or with an afternoon drink. In our household this was typically an evening treat. There was always something so cozy when at night mum would bring out a tray of freshly baked kiflice, with the sweetest and warm jam fillings. She often made them with apricot jam and we devoured them!
FINE / DELICATE – This is the same as the regular style but the dough may contain butter making it much more softer and fluffier. By having a fine dough that has been coated in butter you get a nice soft and layered kifle which are softer and lighter to bite into. It is less like a savoury / regular kiflica which is more dense / bread like. It can be sweet or savoury, the only difference is in the preparation and end result of the dough.
MAKING PIZZA KIFLE
Including proving, this recipes takes around two hours from start to finish but most of this is making the dough, waiting for it to rise, 15 minutes of cutting triangles of dough and positioning them on the tray. Baking is a scant 20 minutes. There is more waiting time involved with this recipe than actual work.
For this recipe you will need flour, butter, milk, yeast, salt, sugar and an egg. The filling is made up of tomato paste, salami and sliced cheese.
This recipe uses a stacking technique. This means once you have rolled out each piece of dough into thin circles, you will stack each layer of dough on top of the other. In between each layer you will grease the surface with soft butter. Finally, you will end up with one rolled out dough that you will shape into wedges, fill with the pizza ingredients and form into crescent shapes.
PIZZA KIFLE DOUGH
- Bloom the yeast: In the bowl of your mixer, add the warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Give it a quick stir with a small whisk and let it sit for 8-10 minutes, until the yeast foams up well.
- Make the dough: To your bloomed yeast, add the flour, salt, butter and egg. Use the dough hook on your mixer and let the dough knead for about 5 minutes on low speed. The dough should turn out soft, elastic, and slightly sticky. Because of varying environment conditions, you may need more flour than I used. Add 1 tbsp at a time until your dough feels perfect. Shape the dough into a ball – leave it in a bowl lightly greased with oil, covered for an hour and a half or until doubled in size.
- Stacking the dough: Once the dough is ready, place it on a floured surface and cut into four equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into circles, as thin as you can. You want to get it pretty thin! The thinner you roll your dough, the more flaky layers your crescent rolls will have. You should end up with four thin pieces of dough. The next step is to grease them with butter and stack them. On a separate floured surface, place the first layer of dough and grease the top with soft butter, stack the second layer on top, grease the second layer with butter. Stack the third layer on top, grease with butter and finally place the fourth layer on top. Do not grease the fourth layer with butter as you will need to roll the combined layers out with a rolling pin. To finish – roll out the combined four layers once more. The end result should be one large circle shaped dough.
SHAPING & FILLING THE PIZZA KIFLE
- When you have combined the layers and rolled out the dough, cut out triangular wedges. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife cut the dough in half lengthwise, and then cut the dough into triangles. You are looking to obtain 16 triangle slices.
- Fill each wedge with a teaspoon of tomato paste, a slice of ham, and a slice of cheese.
- To shape the crescents, start at the wide end of a triangle and roll your way along, all the way to the point. Make sure the point is tucked under the roll. Arrange each pizza kifla on a baking tray. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Once the crescents are ready, glaze each kifla with some melted butter and bake in the oven at 180 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
These pizza kifle are worth the time and effort. With a little patience you will end up with a beautiful, soft and buttery treat to serve up on any occasion. Most of the time in this recipe is taken up by waiting for the dough to rise. It will take you roughly 20 minutes of prep time and only 20 minutes of baking time. I hope you enjoy these Serbian inspired kifle ❤️.
FOR THE DOUGH
- 500 g self raising flour
- 200 ml milk warm
- 8 g instant dry yeast ( 1 sachet )
- 60 g unsalted butter softened
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 45 g unsalted butter ( for greasing dough layers )
FOR THE FILLING
- 100 g grated cheese
- 100 g tomato paste
- 100 g salami
- 30 g melted butter for glazing
MAKING THE DOUGH
- Line a large oven tray with baking paper.
- Combine the yeast, sugar and warm milk. Leave aside for eight or ten minutes until the yeast has become bubbly and foamy.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer add in the flour and salt and combine. You can also add this to a regular bowl if you do not have a stand mixer.
- Then add 45 g soft butter, one egg and the yeast once it is ready. Combine all of the ingredients with a dough hook. Knead at low speed for roughly 5 minutes. A smooth dough should form. You are looking for soft dough that doesn’t overly stick to your hands. If you need to add in more flour, add only one tablespoon at a time.
- If kneading by hand, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Knead the dough until it becomes lump and elastic. If you prefer, dust a working area and continue kneading there.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for a few minutes until smooth. Shape into a ball, return it to a mixing bowl that has been lightly greased with some oil. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm spot for an hour and a half – or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Once the dough is ready, place it on a floured surface and divide the dough into four even pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough into thin circles.
FORMING THE DOUGH LAYERS
- On a separate floured surface, place the first dough on the bottom and grease the surface with soft butter.
- Stack the second piece of rolled out dough on top and also grease the surface with soft butter.
- Place the third layer of dough and grease the surface with soft butter.
- Finally, stack the fourth layer on top.
- Once the layers are stacked, use your rolling pin so compress all of the layers into one circle.
- With the help of a dough cutter, a sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the circle in its center to obtain 16 triangle slices.
- At the wider end of each triangle, using a butter knife, spread a teaspoon of tomato paste, add a piece of ham and a slice of cheese. Repeat the same process for each triangle slice.
SHAPING THE CRESCENTS
- To shape the crescents, start at the wide end of a triangle and roll your way along, all the way to the point. Make sure the point is tucked under the roll.
- Place them as you go on the baking tray lined with parchment paper, spacing them well, with their end facing down.
- Cover them with a cloth and let them rise again for 20 minutes in a warm place.
- In the mean time preheat oven to 180°C.
- Brush each pizza kifla with some melted butter.
- Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven, and let them cool down before serving.
- Please note it takes time for the dough to rise into prep+cook time. It takes about 1.5 hours for dough to rise the first time, and another 20 min for crescents to rise before going into the oven.
- Layering each piece of dough on top of the other, greasing each layer with butter and rolling out into one compressed dough will give you the wonderful soft, buttery layers that are commonly found in a croissant.
- Once baked and cooled, just slip any leftover crescent rolls into a zip-top bag to keep them fresh. They will keep at room temperature for a few days, or in the fridge for around a week.
- You could also freeze them. They’ll last in the freezer for several weeks to a month. When you’re ready to have some, just warm them gently in the oven for about 10 or 15 minutes.
Your friends and family are going to love these homemade pizza kifle! They truly are soft and light! And everyone will be so impressed that you made them from scratch.