to end a year on a positive note, do positive things! If you're spending extra time at home this year, why not try something new. One idea is bake something festive from other parts of the world. Kifli are a very well known food in everyone makes them during the holiday season. Super soft bread rolls, stuffed with feta cheese, topped with sesame seeds, and brushed with warm melted butter- I can’t think of a better way to describe this Kifli Recipe for these unique, traditional, and authentic rolls called “kifli.”
Kifli (KEE-FLEE) are a very popular food item in some parts of Europe-more specifically in a small country located on the Balkan Peninsula, Macedonia. Kifli are made for literally every occasion, and I mean EVERY. You will easily locate them on every table for birthdays, weddings, engagement parties, holidays, and pretty much every day because every Macedonian household has kifli in their freezer. Yes- they are THAT good.
Over the course of the years, the original Kifli recipe has changed and every baker puts their own twist on the recipe. Aside from the recipe that I will share below, kifli are also made with yogurt, sparkling water, kefir, and much more. I’ve never had bad kifli in my life regardless of how they are made but the recipe I’m sharing today is the authentic recipe my great grandmothers, grandmothers, and my mother all use. This is the best, most basic Kifli recipe that is my go-to and never fails. In this post, I will share with you very detailed instructions on how to make the BEST kifli, using this very traditional, “can’t go wrong” Kifli recipe.
There are 7 main steps in making this Kifli Recipe.
- Preparing the dough.
- Letting the dough rise.
- Shaping and stuffing the kifli.
- Letting the shaped kifli puff up.
- Brush with egg wash and top with sesame seeds.
- Brush with butter.
Preparing the Dough
Preparing the dough for this Kifli recipe is the step that takes the most amount of time but don’t let that discourage because I have very detailed steps to ensure that your process goes smooth as possible.
Start with the activating the yeast.
- To activate the yeast, warm up the whole milk and transfer it in a large mixing bowl, the same bowl that you will use to to prepare the dough. The warm milk should be about 110F. If the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast and the dough will not rise. To the warm milk, add 1 Tbs flour and 1 tsp sugar then whisk until they dissolve. Sprinkle yeast over the top of the warm milk, gently mix it around very briefly, and let it sit for about 10 minutes until it gets foamy. You will know that your yeast is activated because you will start to see air bubbles and it will begin to form a foam on top of the milk. While you wait for your yeast to activate, use the time to sift the flour.
Add in oil, eggs, and salt.
- Once your yeast has been activated, to your yeast mixture, add in the eggs, oil, and salt and whisk to break down the egg yolks and mix the all the ingredients.
Add sifted flour.
- To your wet ingredients, add the sifted flour and knead the dough by eithr using your hands or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Start with 7 cups of flour and add more as needed. I find that it’s easier to work this dough with your hands so that you can feel the texture of the dough and troubleshoot if needed.
- *The dough should not stick stick to your fingers. If you find that the dough is too sticky, flour the surface your are working on place the dough on top of the flour. As you work the dough, it will pick up the extra flour. This will help evenly distribute the flour among the dough for the kifli that way it will be easier to work with. The amount of flour in a kifli recipe may vary slightly depending on the moisture in the dough but also in the air in the space in which you are preparing your kifli. Add flour until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers but should still be very soft.
- Once the dough is the ready, form it into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Lightly drizzle oil on top of the dough to prevent it from drying out. Place a towel over the bowl and let the dough rise until it has doubled it sizem about 1 hour to 1.5 hours. I leave my dough in the off, turned off.
Shaping the Kifli.
- Once your dough has doubled in size, deflate the dough and divide it into 4 equal sections. Form the sections into balls so they are easier to roll out evenly in a large circle.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out one ball of dough into a 18-20inch circle, in diameter. Remember, there is no right or wrong in this step and there are no correct measurements. I included the size to get a a rough estimate. Roll the dough until you can’t roll it anymore without it being too thin. Be patient because depending on the brand flour you use, you may not be able to roll it as easily. As you roll it, the gluten gets broken down and it becomes easier to roll.
- Next, cut your circle in 4 equal parts and cut each quarter into 3-4 triangles (see pictures below). On each triangle, place about 1 teaspoon of cheese in the center of the wide end. Repeat this step for each section.
- Roll the up the kifli. To do so, start by tucking in the two corners of the wide part of the triangle slightly inward. Then, roll the wide part where the filling is, toward the narrow end while gently pulling on the narrow end.
- Transfer each kifla on a baking sheet that has been lightly greased and floured or lined with parchment paper, spacing each on 1 1/2in-2 inches apart. They will puff up once baked. Cover with a kitchen towel and let them rest for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Repeat this step for the rest of the 3 sections of dough.
- Note– you may not have enough baking sheets for all the kifli and that is okay. Place the prepared kifli on a floured surface and cover them with a kitchen towel. It is okay if the rest for more than 30 minutes.
Baking the Kifli.
- Right before transferring kifli to the oven, brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds on each.
- Bake the kifli at 390F for 16-18 minutes or until a light golden brown.
- Immediately after taking them out of the oven, lightly brush the top of the kifli with melted butter.
- Transfer kifli onto a cooling rack, cover with a kitchen towel and let them cool down a bit. They are best fresh out of the oven while still slightly warm.
How to store/freeze kifli.
Since these kifli have feta cheese, store them in the refrigerator. This recipe makes a lot of kifli so you can definitely freeze them. To do so, once completely cooled, place them in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 4 months. To defrost, transfer them in the refrigerator overnight or heat in the microwave. If heating in the microwave, be aware they they are super soft and defrost very easily. I recommend starting with 30 seconds and go from there.
Makes 48 kifli
- 2 cups whole milk (500ml)
- 1 tsp sugar (3g)
- 1 tbs flour (7g)
- 2 1/2 tsp yeast (8g)
- 3 tsp salt (15g)
- 3 whole eggs
- 1/2 cup oil (115 ml)
- 7-8 cups all purpose flour (1kg) *Read notes above
- 1 1/4 cup feta crumbs (190g)
For the topping:
- 1/3 cups sesame seeds
- 1 egg for egg wash
- 4 tbs melted butter
- In a large mixing bowl, add warm milk, 1 Tbs flour, and sugar. Whisk until dissolved then sprinkle yeast over warm milk. Gently mix the yeast and let it sit for about 10 minutes until foamy.
- To the yeast mixture, add the eggs, oil, and salt. Mix the liquid slighlty, just so that the egg yolks are broken apart and evenly mixed.
- Add in sifted flour and work the dough with your hands or in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook until it comes together. If using a stand mixer, the dough will begin to separate from the bowl as it comes together and the mixing will take anywhere from 3-5 minutes. If you’re kneading by hand, this process will take longer. The dough should not stick to your fingers but should still be very soft, if it does, add more flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too hard or dry, add a splash of milk.
- Once the dough is ready, place it a lightly floured bowl. Drizzle top of dough with oil to prevent it from drying. Cover with a kitchen towel and place a a warm spot until it doubles in size, about 1 hour depending on the temperature.
- When the dough has doubled, deflate the dough and divide into 4 equal sections. Shape each section into a ball so that it’s easier to roll out.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out each section into a circle, roughly 17-20 inches in diameter. Cut the circle into 4 equal parts, then cut each quarter into 3-4 smaller triangles.
- In the wide part of each section, place one teaspoon of feta crumbs.
- Roll each kifla. To do so, start by tucking in the two corners of the wide part of the triangle slightly inward. Then, roll the wide part where the filling is, toward the narrow end while gently pulling on the narrow end.
- Preheat oven to 390F.
- Place each the kifli on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or greased and lightly floured. Cover the kifli with a kitchen towel and let them sit for about 30-45 minutes.
- Once slightly puffed up, top with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the kifli.
- Bake the kifli for 16-18 minutes or until a light golden brown.
- Once out of the oven and still hot, using a pastry brush lightly brush kifli with melted butter.
Transfer onto a cooling rack and let them cool slightly before having your first bite!