Sour Cream

Gram's Kifli

December  2, 2010
1 Ratings
  • Makes 4 dozen
Author Notes

Well into her eighties, my unflappably determined Hungarian grandmother traveled six hours by car with a huge surprise platter of these cookies for our wedding, much to everyone's amazement and delight. This was our most memorable wedding present of all. Gram firmly believed that we could have no special occasion without these especially beloved cookies. Since no one else in the family knew how to make these or even what to call them then, after she passed away, I just had to figure out her recipe. I had watched her make these several times when I was a girl. When I presented my first platter to my uncle, he gave the thumbs up. Although you can use different fillings such as chestnut, poppy, fig or prune, I think making half the batch with walnut/raisin/cranberry and the other half in apricot/ginger is best. By using more spice with zest, white whole wheat flour, and fage, this recipe has some additional updated nutritional value. Making this recipe for our special occasions helps me keep a family tradition alive. —Sagegreen

What You'll Need
  • Two fiillings: walnuts with dried fruits and apricot with ginger
  • 1/4 cup finely ground walnuts (amount after grinding)
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped dried premium cranberries
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped yellow raisins
  • 2 teaspoons wildflower honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground or milled
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • and
  • 4 ounces thick apricot jam (homemade preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated peeled gingerroot
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, Meyer preferred
  • The dough
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (King Arthur preferred)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (King Arthur preferred)
  • 14 ounces premium unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, Meyer preferred
  • 4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 9 ounces sour cream or fage
  • 6 ounces confectionery sugar
  • dash of sea salt
  • 2 egg whites, slightly beaten for wash
  • @ 4 ounces confectionery sugar, to sift over cooled cookies
  1. Combine the ingredients for each of the two fillings, and store each one in a bowl to use later. We used a meat grinder, fastened onto the kitchen table to combine the walnuts and dried fruits together.
  2. Sift together the flours. Traditionally, we used only apf, but white whole wheat is a delicious addition. If necessary, you could try a gluten-free apf (Arrowhead Mills). Using a pastry cutter blend the butter and lemon zest to the flour.
  3. Mix in the beaten egg yolks. After these are incorporated, mix in the sour cream or fage and 6 oz. of sugar. Divide the dough into 4 balls and refrigerate until chilled (at least half an hour).
  4. In between parchment paper roll out the dough, one ball at a time, to a wide strip, roughly in modules of @ 2 inches. Strive for a 1/8 inch thickness, or even a bit less. Keep the rest on the dough refrigerated until you are ready to work with the next batch. Cut out 2 inch squares from the rolled dough. You should get about a dozen from each ball. If you have scraps, you can re-roll them. Refrigerate if the dough gets too sticky, with the butter melting at room temperature.
  5. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each square. Taking the opposite corners overlap them and then give them a firm pinch. Brush evenly with egg whites. Continue with the rest of the dough in the same way. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12-14 minutes until perfectly golden brown. Let cool.
  6. Sift confectionery sugar on top of the cookies and transfer to a platter. A child will feel love, while a grandmother honor.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lorigoldsby
  • Oui, Chef
    Oui, Chef
  • MyCommunalTable
  • hardlikearmour
  • drbabs

43 Reviews

lorigoldsby April 28, 2011
Good luck with your "recollecting" of cookbooks...this is a lovely story (which would be so much better with one of your Gram's cookies)! Guess I'll have to get in the kitchen this Sunday morning and make a batch with the kid before she leaves to go back to college...and then reread all of the beautiful postings from this week's contest theme while I try not to think about how much I miss her!
Sagegreen April 30, 2011
Thanks, lori. Let me know how you like them if you do make these. They travel off to college well, too, btw!
Oui, C. April 28, 2011
Not sure I could decide between your two variations of cookie, I'll HAVE to make them both. - S
Sagegreen April 30, 2011
Thanks, Steve. Let me know what you think if you make them. I am partial to making both kinds myself.
MyCommunalTable April 26, 2011
Love these cookies. Great story. Great Pic.
hardlikearmour April 26, 2011
? What a lovely tribute to your grandma! She sounds like an amazing woman - probably where you get it from!
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thanks, hla!
drbabs April 26, 2011
What a sweet tribute to your grandmother. And I love your wedding picture! Lovely recipe.
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thanks, drbabs!
nannydeb April 26, 2011
I must have missed this the first time around. Wonderful story and they look delicious!
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thanks, nannydeb.This one is such fun to see the posts.
TiggyBee April 26, 2011
These are wonderful Sagegreen and what a lovely story as well!
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thanks, TiggyBee!
mrslarkin April 26, 2011
What a lovely story! And beautiful pictures! And the kifli sounds buttery-delicious!
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thanks, mrslarkin. I am the only one currently in the family to make these...but now that we have a recipe written down, we can be sure to pass it on down. You just know somebody loves you when you eat these!
gingerroot April 26, 2011
I'm not sure how I missed these the first time you shared them. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story (Grandmother food love is a precious gift!) and lovely recipe. I love your wedding photo, too.
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thanks, gingerroot. I was torn between selecting something more of my own creation in a very healthy direction and the family tradition. This won out, because it hits the core of what really motivated me to cook in the first place.
fiveandspice April 26, 2011
Thanks for sharing! And, love the photos!
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thank you, fiveandspice, for appreciating this!
Lizthechef April 26, 2011
My Hungarian grandmother taught her daughter-in-law, my mother, to make these. My Mom's were just as good, a Pennsylvania Dutch version known as "kiffles". Thanks for the lovely family story, my favorite.
Lizthechef April 26, 2011
Whoops - I see I made the same comment 4 months ago! At least I'm consistent ;)
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thanks, Liz! With only one recipe to select, this is the one that has the most traditional significance for me because it made me want to cook!
wssmom April 26, 2011
Love the story, the photo AND the recipe!
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thanks, wssmom. This is the recipe I had to work the hardest to figure out how to make. It really does give me an identity of being the cook in the family today!
Bevi April 26, 2011
These look so beautiful!
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thanks, Bevi. These taste so wonderful. I could never make them without butter!
Kage December 14, 2010
Yep, Sagegreen. My Mother's recipe also has yeast in the dough. She used the same dough for a nut roll, with a "spit" of lemon juice added to prevent splitting.
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
Thanks, Kage. I just found your comment today. I have never had splitting problems, but decided to add some lemon zest into the flour to brighten the taste.
Sagegreen April 26, 2011
My grandmother also did a version with yeast in the dough, too!
Kage December 14, 2010
This recipe is close to what my Mother used to make, but with a difference. My Mother got her recipe from her sister-in-law after she remarried. My Stepfather was Hungarian, and we all fell in love with these pastries. However, the way Mom learned to make them was to cut the dought into long triangles and roll the dough with the filling placed on the widest part of the triangle. Kind of like crecent rols, only smaller. And she used granulated sugar instead of powdered. They are time consuming and arduous to make, but worth every minute. My Dad ate them like popcorn!
Sagegreen December 14, 2010
Thanks for sharing, Kage. My grandmother also made some kinds like crescents, but with a yeast-based dough. We loved them all!
Rivka December 9, 2010
As soon as you posted this recipe, I knew I'd seen something like it before: I first had kifli at the Hungarian Pastry Shop on the Upper West Side, and then in Budapest when I was traveling there. I was hooked -- they're delicious. Can't wait to try your recipe!
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Thanks, Rivka. These cookies are my most favorite in the whole world, but of course, I am biased! I can't wait to try your spiced cocoa crisps!
TheWimpyVegetarian December 4, 2010
I've never had these, but this recipe and the picture looks great! I've added tme to my list of things I MUST make!
Sagegreen December 4, 2010
Thanks, ChezSuzanne! Fair warning: They are hard to resist once they have been baked! I am going to make your celery root crabcakes, gorgeous. Hope you like my latke recipe!
adamnsvetcooking December 3, 2010
I love KIFLI!!! My grandma makes the best ones!
Sagegreen December 3, 2010
Thanks, adamsvetcooking. Kifli is really special. Your cranberry cake looks great, too, btw. I want to make it over the holidays.
luvcookbooks December 3, 2010
this is an enchanting recipe, haven't made kiflis in years, will try these
Sagegreen December 3, 2010
Thanks, luvcookbooks. Let me know what you think. There was also another version gram made with a sweet yeast dough. I seem to remember finding a recipe in a foods of the world cookbook. During a move two years ago I foolishly got rid of all my cookbooks. Now I am recollecting.
drbabs December 2, 2010
These would be great for brunch!
Sagegreen December 2, 2010
Thanks! Yes, a late brunch, or else for an afternoon open house tea. I have to freeze some or I will eat too many myself.