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Erma Gassensmith was my son's fifth grade teacher. She got the recipe from watching her mother and measuring all the ingredients as her mother made the kieflies. Her mother immigrated from Hungary. "The trick to making beautiful, tender kieflies is to handle the dough as little, and as gently, as possible. Bake the kieflies as soon as you have filled a batch so that the dough does not become warm and limp. If you feel dough has become a bit warm after filling a cookie sheet, refrigerate for 15 minutes before baking." Erma Gassensmith.
- 3 cups unsifted flour
- 1⁄2 cup sour cream (plus 2 tablespoons)
- 8 medium egg yolks
- small lemon, rind of, grated (yellow part only)
- 1⁄2 tablespoon sugar
- 1⁄2 lb butter (or 1/4 lb butter + 1/4 lb margarine where you don't use all the margarine)
- 1 lb walnuts, shelled, and ground fine
- 8 egg whites
- 1 lb confectioners' sugar
- 1 small lemon, juice of (about 2 tbsp)
- Mix flour and butter until mixture is like cornmeal.
- Beat together sour cream, egg yolks, lemon rind and sugar, add to flour mixture.
- Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Dough will have a satiny appearance and all the dough will come off your hands. Knead at least 20 minutes. The longer you work the dough the flakier the finished product will be. Do not cheat on kneading time.
- Pinch off pieces of dough no larger than a walnut and form into balls. Place balls side by side in a cake pan. Separate layers with wax paper. This should make about 85 balls.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. (Dough balls may be frozen for up to 6 months. Freezing seems to make the dough even more tender when baked. Thaw in refrigerator overnight, not at room temperature.)
- Remove 1 dozen balls from the refrigerator at a time. If dough is too warm or too cold it is difficult to roll out. Roll each ball into a 4" circle. Circles will be tissue paper thin. Use as little flour as possible to keep dough from sticking to pastry board. It is best to make a mixture of 6 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar for sprinkling the board.
- Lay rolled out circles of pastry on a large tray just barely overlapping so they will not stick together. Use waxed paper between layers. When a dozen balls have been rolled, refrigerate the tray so dough does not become too soft. If this happens kieflies will not be attractive.
- It is easier to assemble if you roll out about 36 balls, fill and bake. All the balls may be rolled at one time, but keep pastry circles refrigerated until ready to fill. Work with only as many circles as will it an one cookie sheet at a time.
- To assemble kieflies, place a semi-heaping tablespoon of filling across the middle of each circle, but not quite to the edge. Fold 1/3 of the dough over filling, overlapping about half way; fold the remaining 1/3 of the dough so it overlaps the first 1/3. Use a gentle hand when overlapping the filling so that when it bakes the filling will have room to expand. Shape the rolls into crescents, using thumbs and fingers. When forming the crescents the edges might curl up slightly. Do not try to smooth out the dough. To do so would not allow the dough to expand and become flaky.
- Always place filled kieflies on a cool, ungreased cookie sheet. Bake no more than 1 sheet at a time. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 10 to 12 minutes or only until lightly browned.
- While kieflies are still warm generously coat with confectioners' sugar by sprinkling it through a small sieve or shaker.
- Filling; Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar and lemon juice. Use a spatula to fold in ground nuts until thoroughly blended. If filling seems a bit "weepy" add about 3 crushed graham crackers.
- NOTE Kieflies will keep up to a week if kept in a cool spot. DO NOT cover tightly.
- These kieflies freeze beautifully. They will thaw at room temperature (uncovered) in about 3 hours. Freshen with confectioners' sugar when ready to serve.
This is exactly the recipe that my husbands family makes as a Christmas tradition. As for the comment that it didn't turn out, some years when I do it are better than others. I guess it might be the way I handle them. I suggest to try again. My family loves them.
This recipe is actually that of my Great Aunt Erma's. My dad gave it to me and I was trying to find more information about it online and came upon this website by accident. Aunt Erma was the best cook I ever knew. This recipe is amazing. Hard to make though but well worth it
very good recipe... the one in my mom's hungarian cookbook is nearly identical. i did make a few changes though. i skimped on the kneading time ;) and used half butter & half shortening (my preference when making pie crusts). also, i divided the dough into 8 equal balls, wrapped them in plastic, refrigerated. rolled in to 12" circles (like pie-crusts) & stamped 8 four inch circles out of each. easily would have gotten over 80 (got tired & stopped after 5 doezen). oh... my mom's recipe called for a "wash" (1 egg & a tbsp water) over the kifli. i left it out this time b/c... well, the recipe didn't call for it. next time, i will use it. but, don't use too much or your kifli will get stuck to the wax paper, baking sheet, or whatever you use.