How To Make Hungarian Croissant (Kifli)

Legend has it that during the 150 year Turkish occupation of Hungary the Ottomans (Turks) stormed a Hungarian city and the local bakers, who began their work early in the day, were able to raise the alarm and thus helped to defeat the enemy invasion. To symbolize their victory, the bakers formed the emblem of the Turkish Empire, the crescent moon, out of pastry and ate the enemy’s power… and the tradition of “kifli” or croissant was born.

Kifli could be roughly translated as croissant although it has nothing to do with the croissant in the traditional sense. Although its shape is similar to it, it is actually made of a yeast dough cut into triangular wedges, rolled up and baked as a bread.

“Kifli” is still one of the most popular snack breads of Hungary. There are many varieties. Some are sprinkled with salt, caraway seeds, sesame seeds and even cheese. My daughter loves it when I knead dried cranberry raisins into the dough and sprinkle the top with rough raw sugar. However the most popular recipe is the so- called “butter kifli” (vajas kifli)


500 grams of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoons of sugar

1 pack of fast rising dry yeast

1 cup of warm milk ( not hot)

100 grams of melted, unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon of caraway seeds to sprinkle on top

Warm up milk (do not make hot that would kill the yeast), pour in dry yeast, and a tiny pinch of sugar, cover and let stand for about 5 minutes. Melt butter, let cool to room temperature.

Mix together all the ingredients, except caraway seeds. Form a round dough, place in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. I like to place the bowl on top of the stove and turn on the oven to about 250F to help it along. Cut into four and form four round balls. Place back into bowl, cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Roll out each ball and cut each into two wedges. Roll up each, starting with the wide end. Let rise another 30 minutes.

Bring to boil 6 cups of lightly salted water with 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Dip each “kifli” into water with a spoon for 5 seconds. Remove, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Whisk together an egg white and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush “kifli” and sprinkle with caraway seeds. You may also use rough salt to sprinkle on top. Bake in a 375F preheated oven until golden.

This is wonderful for breakfast; at a picnic with your favourite pate; or just on tis own with milk. You can also use it as a base for a sophisticated deli sandwich.

Add dry cranberries to the dough, or dates and serve them for breakfast with tea, cafe or cocoa. Of course leave off the caraway seeds and salt. Sprinkle with sugar instead.

My daughter loves to make her favourite arugula sandwich with “kifli”. She cuts it in half, spreads a teaspoon of blue cheese dressing on it and cover the dressing with baby arugula. As much as you can fit into it. It is healthy and delicious.

Try this lovely easy to prepare snack by adding your favourite touches to it. Enjoy…