Kiflice (pronounced something like keef-lee-tze) are 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! Kifle are typically eaten like bread or rolls -sometimes plain or with butter. 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 ❤️.
Your friends and family are going to love these homemade pizza kifle! They truly are soft and light! Everyone will be so impressed that you made them from scratch. Let me know how this turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram.
|500g self raising flour|
|200ml warm milk|
|10g instant dry yeast|
|60g unsalted butter (softened)|
|1 egg (room temperature)|
|45g unsalted butter, for greasing dough layers|
|FOR THE FILLING|
|100g grated cheese|
|100g tomato paste|
|30g melted butter, for glazing|