a family treasure…kiffles

sweet sugar dumplins

It’s official, I am my husband’s wife.

While in Bethlehem visiting for Easter, I had the good fortune of spending an afternoon with my mother and sister-in-law. On select holidays these industrious ladies get together continuing the time-honored tradition of baking kiffles. Last Christmas after informing our families that we’d be doing strictly homemade gifts (liquor infusions-tangerine bourbon, anyone?) V, my MIL, decided to do a kiffle care package. They arrived in Detroit wrapped in pristine holiday finery, packed so respectfully. We tore into them like wolves. It was obscene.

pipin' hot from the oven

Snakes goes berserk with the mere mention of that 6-letter word. Buttery little pastry rounds are thoughtfully rolled to encase the jammy filling. Topped off with a sprinkling of course sugar crystals, these babies are very close to perfection. Traditional kiffle fillings are lekvar (prune), walnut, and (our absolute favorite) apricot. One recipe makes over 100 cookies but they ship and store quite successfully. Prior to becoming a part of this family, I’d never even heard of them. Such a sheltered life. Tragic, really.

We three ladies formed an efficient assembly line of rolling, jamming, pinching and sprinkling. I really can’t imagine doing these all on my own. Although, now that I know how to make them, I’m planning to send a batch with Snakes to the FSI for his birthday in July. When I told him, he first rolled his eyes and then insisted he’d rather not share, and plus “they’d never make it all that way”. Ah… sure that grueling 15 minute commute. I’m sure it was just the sugar talking…

party favors?

KIFFLES (makes 8-9 dozen)

7 cups flour

1# unsalted butter

2 tsp baking powder

1 pkg dry yeast

1 cup sour cream

3 Tbs powdered sugar

3 large eggs

pinch salt

1. Dissolve yeast in sour cream

2. cut cold butter into flour using food processor (just like when making pie crust) Do it in 2 steps if making the whole recipe.

3. Combine other ingredients in bowl, whisk together briefly. Add yeast-sour cream mixture. Combine half of flour mixture with half of wet ingredients in bowl of stand up mixer fitted with dough hook. Mix well. Repeat with remaining half. Combine both batches in large bowl and knead to combine.

4. Pinch walnut sized balls from dough and roll into balls. Place on cookie sheet, cover with saran, and refrigerate for 3 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 350-375. Roll out in granulated sugar. Fill with small amount of filling. Pinch dough closed at the ends, clip excess dough decoratively.

6. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet, bake about 12-15 minutes.

7. Transfer to cooling racks.

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17 thoughts on “a family treasure…kiffles

  1. Pingback: preparation | from the back of beyond

  2. I grew up In Bethlehem Pennsylvania and subsequently, grew up on Kiffles. Oh how I absolutely love them. My parents, brother and I all moved to Iowa when I was 13 and every year to this day now that I’m 27, my family still bakes hundreds of kiffles every single Christmas season. It is surely a treat and anyone who has never tasted their deliciousness is surely missing out on one of lifes little treasures.

    • I also grew up in Bethlehem till age 18- but two weeks ago, I happened to go for a visit. Mom and I went to visit Mary Platusich, and her daughter Michele, family friends who made Kiffles to take home with me. They were so fantastic. Both Mary, Michele and the Kiffles! They were as delicious as they were 50 years ago when I made a little piggy of myself, eating them one snowy day when we visited them. I am going to try my hand at making them.

  3. My grandmother lived in Bethlehem, PA as a young bride and mother and subsequently many of our favorite family foods are hungarian in nature. Kiffles are a particular treasure around the holidays. I can totally relate to tearing into a beautiful package of homemade goodness like wolves.

    Our recipe is a bit different and I think I would like to try yours this year. The process seems a bit more streamlined.

    Thank you for your post. It brought tears of happy memories to me!

  4. I love that you roll all the little balls. Looks like a much better system. I love kiffles, too. I grew up in the Pittsburgh, PA area and my decedents are of the Polish and Ukrainian. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I’m originally from Bethlehem as well. I moved to GA when I was younger, though all of my family still lives up there. No one has heard of Kiffles down here. I make people send me Kiffles from the Kiffle Kitchen in Bath…. if you have never had them, do yourself a favor and order some. Best kiffles I have ever had. I miss them right now and am going to try my hand at making some tonight. Thanks so much, you have brought me a piece of home.

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  8. Just got back from the Christkindlmarket in Bethlehem where we purchased a small box of kiffles for our ride back home. Boy, do we wish we had purchased more ! Can you help with the filling recipes
    ? Your pictures look the most like what we purchased and I really want to try my hand at making these. The nut and the apricot were our favorites.

    • Kathleen, I can tell you how to make the lekvar and apricot fillings! I make them every Christmas, even though I moved to AZ. I grew up in Bethlehem and my grandmother always made kiffles. (: For lekvar, take a pound of prunes, place in a small saucepan and just barely cover with water. Add a cinnamon stick if you like. Simmer for about 30 minutes, then add 1 cup white sugar. Simmer anther 15-20 minutes, until fairly thick, then transfer to blender or food processor (remove cinnamon stick first). Do the same thing with a pound of dried apricots, adding a little lemon peel if you like. Keeps for months in the fridge! Have fun!

  9. Hi there. Could you tell me exactly how the kiffles were packaged? I’d like to send some myself but not sure what the best way would be. I’m concerned they could go soggy. Any help would be great!

  10. Ah, a soggy kiffle!? Tragic. She wraps them in parchment then fits them snugly in a cookie tin. As long as they reach their destination without extreme heat, they should be ok. Also, if a kiffle goes soggy on you, just pop it back into the oven to crisp it up again. Works like a charm. Good luck!

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