Posts Tagged ‘vanilla kifli’

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Have I persuaded you to make June’s Vanilla Kifli yet?

If not, please let me try again, because these little treats are melt-in-the-mouth delicious.  Granted, the word kifli means crescent, so making them star-shaped is somewhat unconventional.  But they appeal to the littlies, so we now make “star and moon” vanilla kifli.  The ones above are part of a batch I made for Mother’s Day (my mum likes stars as well!).

I’ve now made this recipe numerous times and have a couple of tips to add to my original post.  Firstly, if possible, go by weight rather than cup measurements when you’re putting the ingredients together.  Doing so will ensure a consistently moist dough – a cup of flour can vary enormously depending on everything from ambient humidity to your hormonal state, so if you have scales, this is a good time to pull them out and use them.

Secondly, don’t spread the mix too thinly – Pete measured the dough this morning and declared the perfect thickness to be 1.5cm (5/8 “).  I usually roll or press out half the dough at a time, onto a sheet of parchment paper.

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Thirdly, substitute ground unblanched almonds for a small portion of the almond meal.  This batch had 50g  ground almonds to 200g almond meal.  The recipe will work perfectly well with straight almond meal, but the unblanched almonds add interesting texture and colour.

Finally, don’t overbake.  I set my oven to 160C (fan) and bake for no more than 18 minutes, and sometimes even that’s too much.  I do, however, have a hot and occasionally temperamental oven, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly to suit your baking conditions.  As you can see from the photo below, the absolute ideal is a kifli which is light golden the whole way through, without a darkened brown bottom.  That bit takes a bit of practice, but the rest of the recipe is actually remarkably simple!

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These cookies seem to improve with a little time, so make sure you hide some until the second day (hard to do in this house).  You can also shape the unbaked dough into logs and freeze them (make sure you wrap them well to prevent freezer burn).  I’ve defrosted frozen dough a month later and it’s  baked up beautifully!

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Our neighbour June makes the best almond crescents I’ve ever tasted.  She refers to them by their Hungarian name – Kifli – and they’re so good that after the first bite, I downed tools, hot-footed it across the road and begged her for the recipe.  Incredibly generous soul that she is, she gave it to me straight away – I didn’t even need the jar of jam I’d taken with me as a bribe.

Let me try to explain how good these really are. June sent some over – “for Peter” – and all ten cookies were devoured before dinner.  Our 16 year old neighbour mows her lawn, knowing that he’ll be rewarded with a container of kifli.  And the darling two year old on the corner, when offered a crispbread recently, went into meltdown, weeping,”Noooo…want June bikkie!”.

I was reminded again today that getting a recipe in writing and actually executing it to a given standard are two very different things.  I’ve always maintained that baking is only partially about the ingredients; at least half of the success lies in the technique and handling. June’s recipe is a classic example – it seems simple enough, and yet my first batch was a complete disaster.  After I’d tried to beat the dough into submission, I managed to burn the entire two trays worth – a humbling and annoying lesson.

The second batch was far more successful.  Whilst they’re not exactly like the original, Big Boy did declare that they were “close”.  That’s partly because I used straight almond meal, whereas June uses a mix of almond meal and unblanched whole almonds, which she grinds in an old hand mill that she brought with her from Hungary half a century ago.  But I’m sure the main difference is experience – she’s made this recipe a hundred times, and knows instinctively how to handle the mix.  She laughed at my fussing with the dough, and insists that she just kneads it all together and rolls it out flat, whereas I found it easier to handle the dough more gently.  Here is my take on the recipe..

  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 cups (250g) almond meal
  • 2 cups (300g) plain flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup icing (confectioners) sugar mixture

Note: If possible, use the weight rather than cup measurements when preparing ingredients – trust me, you’ll get a better result!

1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fanforced).

2. Cream the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla extract and mix until blended.

3. Whisk together the almond meal and plain flour, then mix them into the butter mixture. Mix until just combined.

4. Tip the mix onto a sheet of Bake, and gently squeeze it together until it’s combined into an homogenous dough.  Pat or roll it out into a rough rectangle about 1.5cm thick (June makes hers a bit thinner, but I was gunshy after having burnt the first batch).

5. Using a round cutter, cut the dough into crescent shapes, and place them gently onto an oven tray lined with another sheet of Bake.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the tray around and bake for a further 8-10 minutes, or until light golden brown (you don’t want them to darken).

7. Using a spatula, move the kifli to a wire rack to cool.

8. Sift the icing sugar mixture into a small bowl, and toss the cooled kifli in it to coat (one at a time and handle with care, as they can be a bit fragile).

I took one across the road for June to try and, bless her, she was kind and encouraging.  I was gone for maybe four minutes – and in that time my sons ate six crescents between them. Looks like this has already become a family favourite!

Refining the recipe : Vanilla Kifli – Revisted

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