Known as Kifli (Key-Flea) in Hungarian or Roszky/Rozky/Rosky* (Rho-Sh-Key) in Slovak, these crescent-shaped rolls were a favourite of mine. Both grandmothers made them, the Hungarians making them larger and the Slovaks smaller. Often filled with a walnut filling, I have always preferred the moister kifli filled with plum jam (Lacvar, pronounced 'Leck-Var'). For this reason, I had also become accustomed to locating the kifli I liked by the excess jam spilling out the sides - I now overfill (by my Baba's evaluation) my kifli and they always ooze jam! This is one of my favourites recipes of all time, derived by my mother from the recipes of both of my grandmothers (so it is impossible to say if this recipe is 'Hungarian' or 'Slovak'). Making these has become a Christmas tradition.
Mix together the following three ingredients and set aside. Ensure it does not
1/4 CUP MILK (Warmed)
1 TBSP YEAST
1 tsp SUGAR
Using a pastry knife, Mix the following three ingredients in a bowl:
3 CUPS FLOUR
1/2 lb. BUTTER (1 CUP)
Add the following two dry ingredients to the above:
3-1/2 TBSP SUGAR
1/2 tsp BAKING POWDER
In a separate bowl, mix the following:
3 EGG YOLKS (SEPARATE FROM WHITES), Beaten
The add the yeast mixture from above (by now it has frothed) and add:
1/2 CUP SOUR CREAM
1/2 tsp VANILLA
Mix these 'wet' ingredients together with the dry ingredients. Should have the consistency of peanut butter cookie dough. Add flour if sticky. Knead well and let stand 2 to 3 hours in a warm place. To allow the dough to rise, we place the bowl with the dough (covered with a tea towel) onto the top rack of our oven and place a bowl of hot water on the lower rack. Leave the oven off and it will gently warm and allow the dough to rise.
Divide the dough into 5 equal sized balls. Sprinkle sugar on a board, put a dough ball on the board, and roll out into a circle about 12 inches across. Flip the dough over and put more sugar on the board. Cut like a pizza into wedges about 1-1/2 inches at widest. Put Lecvar plum jam on each wedge (about 1 tsp each) and roll in sugar. Bake on a cookie sheet at 325 F for 15 min until golden brown.
The kifli dough being cut with a tradiational kifli cutter
Cut wedges with lacvar filling just prior to rolling. These are, by my Baba's appraisal, overloaded and the jam will overflow onto the cookie sheet when baked (the way I like it, but less “dainty” looking).
Dough wedges are then rolled in sugar sprinkled on the cutting board. The sugar is quite necessary to hold the kifli together - lack of sugar will cause the kifli to unroll during baking and the resulting kifli will have “tails”. As well, when baking, be sure to put the “tails” of the rolls on the bottom (again, to keep them from unrolling).
The completed kifli. This recipe makes 60-80 Kifli.
Lacvar / Lekvar
When I first made kifli, my Baba said don’t bother making lacvar as it is a lot of work and takes too long. She then told me it’s hard to find good lacvar anywhere. Hmmm, quandry?
I made a batch, as per below, and when canned properly it can be kept for a long time. You might consider making a smaller batch since twenty-four jars lasts a loooooong time. The ascorbic and citric acide serve to preserve both flavour and the deep purple colour.
1/2 bushel Italian Prune Plums
1 tsp ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
2 tsp citric acid (or 8 TBSP lemon juice)
2 KG White Sugar
Grind plums, and split between two pots. Put 1/2 tsp of ascorbic acid and 1 tsp citric acid in each pot. Boil very slowly for about 2 hours.
Put in a roasting pan in a 325 degree F oven to thicken (to the consistency of cake batter) for about 5 hours - To test, put the lecvar on a metal spoon ... it is done when no water seeps out when cooling.
Now, add sugar (it will get thinner). Bake again for 1.5 hours. Put into 250 mL canning jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water canner (time from when the water returns to a boil). Makes twenty-four 250mL jars.