|Course||Breakfast, Coffee break|
|Place of origin||Austria|
|Region or state||Balkans, Central Europe|
|Serving temperature||Warm or room temperature|
|Main ingredients||Wheat flour|
Kifli or kipfel is a traditional yeast bread roll that is rolled and formed into a crescent before baking. Crescent-shaped pastries are considered to be the oldest-surviving pastry shape and are believed to represent an ancient pagan tradition involving offerings to the moon goddess Selene. Pastries of similar shape have been baked since at least the 10th century in monasteries. In Vienna kipfel dates to at least the 13th century and was likely traditionally baked in monasteries for Easter.
It is a common type of bread roll throughout much of central Europe and nearby countries, where it is called by different names. It is probably the inspiration for the French croissant, which has a similar shape but is made with a different type of dough.
The breadstuff or pastry is called kifli in Hungarian and Kipfel in Austrian German. It is called kifla (pl. kiflice) in Serbian, кифла or kifla in Bulgarian, кифла in Macedonian, kifle in Albanian, giffel in Danish and Swedish, rohlík in Czech, rožok in Slovak, рогалик/rogalik in Russian, рогалик/rohalyk in Ukrainian, rogliček in Slovene, rogal in Polish, cornuleţ in Romanian, Hörnchen (little horn) in German, gipfel in Switzerland, and kipfl in Austrian Italy. In Vienna it is sometimes called a Medlinger roll or küpfel.
In Old High German, Kipfa means "carriage stanchion", referring to the stanchions or "horns" of a cart. From the 13th century this usage refers to a bread shape of pagan origin. In Hungarian, kifli means "twist" or "crescent".
Breads or pastries in the shape of a crescent moon are believed to have been served in ancient times as offerings to the goddess of the moon, Selene. The shape is also reminiscent of horns; both are associated with ancient symbolism and considered the oldest surviving pastry shape. A moon shaped pastry creates itself naturally by hand-rolling a ball of dough into a cylinder form.
A list of foods eaten in a 10th-century convent include panis lunatis, described as a small crescent-shaped roll often eaten during fasts.
dô brâchten im die pecken
chipfen und weiʒe flecken,
weiʒer dann ein hermelein.
In Austria kipfel is formally recognized by the government as a traditional food. According to the Austrian Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism, kipfel were probably a traditional monastery pastry baked for Easter. They are described as crescent-shaped rolls made of yeast wheat dough in a variety of shapes and as being popular for coffee breaks and breakfasts, particularly in Vienna.
A common culinary myth claims that when Christian forces freed Buda from Ottoman occupation in 1683 the bakers of the town celebrated the victory the next day by selling freshly baked bread rolls made into a crescent shape. Another story claims the kipfel was invented in Vienna after or during the siege of the city by Ottoman Turks.
Kifli are a traditional Hungarian yeasted bread rolled into a crescent shape. The Austrian kipfel is a small wheat roll with pointed ends. The 17th-century Austrian monk Abraham a Sancta Clara described the roll as crescent shaped, writing "the moon in the first quarter shines like a kipfl", and noted there were kipfel in various forms: "vil lange, kurze, krumpe und gerade kipfel" ("many long, short, crooked and straight kipfel").
Traditionally, kifli are made by cutting sheets of soft yeast dough into triangular wedges, rolling them into crescent shapes and baking them. Unlike the French croissant (crescent), Kifli is made from a plain, bread-like dough and is more akin to a roll than to pastry. Kifli is also thinner and longer than the croissant. Kifli are made in various sizes; some of them weigh as much as small bread loaf.
In commercial preparation, the dough is mixed, cut into small pieces, and fed into a machine that flattens and rolls it. The following manual process is similar to the traditional process.
When they come out of the oven, the rolls can be left plain or brushed with water to make them shiny. They can be given an egg wash and sprinkled with either poppy seeds or caraway seeds mixed with coarse salt. The latter variety is often made into a straight shape rather than a crescent. Kifli is eaten like bread or rolls; it is usually made into a sandwich, sometimes plain or with butter like a fresh baguette. Often, especially for breakfast, the topping is jam or honey. They may also be used for dunking.
This is the same as the regular style but the dough may contain butter or other shortening and milk. It is sweeter than the regular variety and is well-suited to be eaten with jam or honey, and is commonly eaten for breakfast with coffee, hot chocolate or milk. It might also be an accompaniment for drinks like Doogh and Kumis.
There are a couple of sweet rolls named "kifli" to describe their shape; they are eaten at the end of a meal or with an afternoon drink; these are not kifli, which when used on its own, always means the regular or fine varieties. In German, these are differentiated with a different spelling: kipferl compared to kipfel for the yeast bread.
- Vanillekipferl is a small, soft cookie made from a dough of ground nuts instead of flour. It is usually made with walnuts but almonds are more often used outside of Hungary. Once baked they are rolled in vanilla-flavored confectioners' sugar then allowed to cool.
- bratislavské rožky, diós kifli, mákos kifli, also known as Pozsonyi kifli, are crescent-shaped, sweet, leavened pastries filled with a sweet walnut or poppy paste. They are a variety of beigli, very similar in flavor but different in shape and size.
Stale kipfel are used to make a sweet bread pudding called Kipfelkoch.
- List of breads
- Cornetto, an Italian crescent pastry
- Rogal świętomarciński, a crescent cake baked in Poznań, Poland, for St. Martin's Day
- Rugelach, a filled crescent pastry popular in Jewish communities in Poland
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