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Eastern European Kifli (Kilfa) Recipe

Eastern European Kifli (Kilfa) Recipe

Kifli or Kifla is a sweet pastry snack that originates from Eastern Europe and is popular throughout Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Albania and Macedonia. It is also eaten in Austria where it is known as kipferl, Denmark and Sweden where it is known as giffel and in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine, Slovenia, Romania, Norway and Germany, all having different names for the same pastry.

The pastry is shaped into a crescent, similar to a croissant although it is made with a dough more similar to bread than to pastry. It is a staple for families all over Eastern Europe, served for breakfast, as a snack, or to accompany meals.

Kifli can be served plain, with seeds, sweetened, or filled with a variety of fillings. 

Origin & Cultural Significance

The original kifli is thought to date back to the Medieval period, with a list of foods from a 10th century convent listing “panis lunatis” (a small crescent-shaped roll eaten during fasts) as one of the foods eaten. 

Some people believe the crescent-shaped roll represents the moon (crescent-shaped breads and pastries are thought to have been served as an offering to the goddess of the moon, Selene, in ancient times). While others believe the shape depicts horns which are considered the oldest surviving pastry shape as well as being associated with ancient symbolism. 

They come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, some snack size and some as large as loaves of bread. Kilfi is best enjoyed at breakfast or alongside a coffee or hot tea.

Eastern European Kifli/Kifla

Eastern European Kifli Recipe

Yield: 16
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes

Kifli or Kifla is a sweet pastry snack that originates from Eastern Europe. The pastry is shaped into a crescent.


  • All-purpose flour - 3 cups
  • Butter (softened) - 1 cup
  • Cream cheese (softened) - 1 cup
  • Sugar - 1/4 cup
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Active dry yeast - 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet)
  • Warm milk - 1/2 cup
  • Egg (beaten)- 1 (for egg wash)
  • Sesame seeds or poppy seeds - for sprinkling (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the active dry yeast in warm milk. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, or until frothy.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine softened butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt. Beat until creamy and well combined.
  3. Gradually add the flour to the butter mixture, mixing until a soft dough forms.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5-7 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Punch down the risen dough and divide it into smaller portions, depending on how large you want your Kifli/Kifla to be.
  8. Roll each portion of dough into a thin circle or oval shape.
  9. Cut the dough into wedges or triangles, similar to pizza slices.
  10. Starting from the wide end, roll each triangle of dough towards the point to form crescent shapes.
  11. Place the shaped Kifli/Kifla onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving some space between them.
  12. Brush the tops of the rolls with beaten egg wash.
  13. If desired, sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds over the top of each roll for added flavor and texture.
  14. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the Kifli/Kifla are golden brown and cooked through.
  15. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly before serving.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 218mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 5g

Nutrition is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. It is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimation.

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