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Fluffy Cheese Rolls (Kifli)

Shared by: Baba Tala
Recipe origin: Macedonia

Kifli, or kiflici as they are otherwise known are a much loved Eastern European delicacy. Some make them with butter and sour cream, others with lard. My families recipe is a much healthier variation, using vegetable oil and milk. The texture is soft and fluffy, ideal for moping up a juicy tomato salador lutenka.Often filled with a mixture of creamy cottage cheese and feta, you can get adventurous and fill with plum jam and walnuts or even nutella, sprinkling with brown sugar rather than sesame seeds.

Kifli process



Makes 48

Sponge (yeast mix)
1/3 cup (80ml) lukewarm water
2 (7g) packet dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons 00 plain bread flour

6 1/2 cups (815g) 00 plain bread flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
2 organic or free-range eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup (185ml) water, room temperature
3/4 cup (185ml) milk, room temperature
3/4 cup (185ml) vegetable oil (e.g. canola), plus extra for drizzling

200g feta cheese, crumbled
250g cottage cheese, room temperature

1 organic or free-range egg, lightly beaten for brushing
Sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)

You will need:
• Small bowl or mug (for sponge)
• Large bowl (for dough)
• Damp tea towel (to cover the resting dough)
• Clean table or workbench
• Rolling pin
• Cake spatula
• 2 large baking trays
• Brush

1) Stir sugar, yeast and flour in a small bowl/mug until smooth (1 minute). Allow to rest (7-10 minutes) or until double in size.

2) Grease 2 large baking trays with vegetable oil.

3) In a medium bowl combine the cottage cheese and feta cheese, mix well and set aside.

4) In a large bowl add sifted flour and salt and make a well in the centre, add sponge (yeast mix), eggs, water, milk and oil. Using your fingers start to incorporate the wet ingredients with the flour, as the dough starts to come together begin to knead with one hand while the other turns the bowl (5-7 minutes). Using the edge of your hand make a cross on top (this is my gorgeous baba’s tradition). Dust the top with flour and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes or until double in size and the cross has expanded.

5) Once the dough has risen knead for a further 1-2 minutes in the bowl and turn out onto a flour dusted surface, dust the top of the dough with extra flour and gently roll to cover all over. Using a spatula cut into 6 equal portions and knead into 6 round balls, set aside and cover with a tea towel.

6) Take one of the balls and flatten with the palm of your hand into an even circle approximately 20cm in size. Dust the top with flour and use a rolling pin roll out to 35-40cm circle. Drizzle with oil and gently spread out using your finger tips. Cut into 8 even quarters. Working quickly add a heaped teaspoon of the cheese filling at the top of each quarter, turn the corners in slightly and roll the dough over the filling towards the centre until half way, now stretch the dough back towards you slightly (5cm) to lengthen (this will give you a nice envelope shape), continue rolling over with the end neatly hidden underneath. Arrange on tray and repeat with the remaining dough, working as quickly as possible. Allow the first tray to rest uncovered and relax for 15-20 minutes, then brush with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds, allow to stand for a further 10-15 minutes. Repeat this process with second tray, allowing 15-20 minutes of resting time before brushing with egg and resting again for a further 10-15 minutes.

7) Preheat oven to 200°C.

8) Bake the first tray which has been resting for 5 minutes at 200°C or until lightly golden on the edges, reduce oven temperature to 150°C and bake for another 5 minutes, finally reduce oven to 100°C baking for 5-10 minutes or until lightly golden all over. Bake the second tray in the same manner.

9) Once baked allow to stand for 5-10 minutes and remove from tray. Serve while warm or at room temperature as meze with lutenka or a tomato salad during summer. During winter enjoy with a cup of warm tea for breakfast or a glass of red wine in the evening.

Tip: Kifli freeze well for up to 3 months, simply defrost, reheat in the oven and serve while warm.

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18 Comments  |   Add a comment

  1. Penny Wolf

    Thank you for this site first of all. I must make these rolls in honor of a dear friend who is passed on now. He was from Macedonia and I miss him very much. Now I can make a food from his country and daydream of our work days together

  2. Suzanna

    Sorry to hear about your loss (it sounds like you really miss your friend). I’m glad to hear that you have found some comfort in this recipe. Thanks for commenting and I hope your “kifli” turn out perfectly! Suz :)

  3. Julie

    My son loves Kifli, though we are not Macedonian. I have made these before from another recipe that was given to me by a Macedonian neighbour. After I made Kifli from this recipe over the weekend, I gave some to her. She loved them. Now she wants this recipe. They worked out perfect, just magnificent. Thanks heaps

  4. VillageCook

    Thanks Julie, my grandmother will be delighted to know that her recipe is being shared and enjoyed. Sx

  5. Penny Wolf

    Well I made this great recipe and it turned out great!The whole time I was making them I thought to myself how Milan would have liked them.I have to tell you that for some reason when I eat these I can’t help but think that the feta would taste fantastic with potatos.Is there such a dish?

  6. Suzanna

    Absolutely, some recipes add a small boiled (and mashed) potato to the dough with the other wet ingredients, you’ll just need to use a little less water. Sx

  7. Liz

    Hi there, Is there any issue in mixing the dough with a dough hook in a Kitchen Aid Mixer?

  8. Suzanna

    Hi Liz, a dough hook should work. I personally have never tried but I can’t see why not. Sx

  9. Liz

    Many thanks, I just don’t think I would have the energy to knead the dough…lol

  10. Daniela

    Thank you for putting this site together! Kifli have always been one of my favorite foods-my mom’s recipe can be hard to decipher the maso-english handwriting! Your website has taken me back to my childhood and I am looking forward to making my family Macedonian traditions to keep my roots around and share the wonderful flavors.
    Fala Nolgu :)

  11. Nora

    thank you very much, great recipe, really original

  12. angelina

    these were excellent would you also have the receipe for masnik and also pancakes without the egg

  13. In His Lunch Box | Julia's Kuku Parties

    […] kifli, chevapi, sugar free banana donuts, strawberries, roasted potato chips   These are some of the lunches Maksi has been having lately. He usually has cereal, eggs and or toast for breakfast and a toddler friendly version of whatever we are eating for dinner.    Would love to hear what you are feeding your toddler.    x No related posts. Filed under: It's a Kuku Life, Uncategorized Tagged with in his lunch boxLeave a Comment […]

  14. angelina

    I loved your receipe I finally learned how to make kifli but would you know how to make posni pancakes

  15. Julia

    Thank you for this recipe! I am an American with Macedonian son. He loves the kifla! Was wondering if you could post a recipe of the Kifli that is made during fasting? Fala:)

  16. Not quite the domajkinka

    First time dealing with testo-I waited an hour for mine to raise before I called in the big guns for help (mother & mother in law). After an hour of waiting they advised me to go ahead and roll them with feta cheese, eggwash, sesame seeds etc etc and then once I put them in to bake they started to “zbuvni”. They look pretty decent for a first attempt, but I need to roll them out thinner next time. Thank yo for the recipes! cant wait to try more! xx

  17. Leesa

    Thank you for this site and all the recipes! My husband loves kifli and I’ve always wanted to learn how to make them, sadly his Baba passed away before I could learn, now I can make the kifli for him and teach my daughter when she is old enough and keep the traditions alive in our little family.

  18. George strezos

    Made first batch of kifli with your recipe turned out great but I found that the taste of the milk comes through dough, so I then made batch without the milk tasted a lot better. Thanks for the recipe.

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