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Hungarian Kifli

Kifli simply means “crescent” and there are many types of this form of baked good. Rolls, cookies, filled pastry cookies, all called “Kifli” …the shape is about the most that they have in common. The crescent shape commemorates when the Bakers of Budapest foiled the impending attack of Turks by sounding an alarm in their early pre-dawn working hours.

I have several kifli cookie recipes I like to bake, but this one is my mother’s very favorite. It is a light, lemon-nuanced cake, with lots of air incorporated into them. I think one of the things my mother liked so well was how easy it was to whip up a batch for appreciative members of the family.

General Louis Kossuth was a revered hero, and like many things in Hungary, this cookie was named in his honor. Reputed to have been his favorite, as well as my mom’s.

What The Lemon Zest Adds

American cooks of my mother’s generation loved to use extracts, and lemon extract does give a good flavor as well as being one of the few natural flavors of this kind of flavoring. Real lemon zest, the scrapings of the yellow peel of the fruit give more.

If you have a tools that scrapes the shreds of the rind without the bitter white pith, it will add oils that are redolent of fresh lemon and give depth to the taste of the cookie.

Don’t skimp on the Lemon Zest!

 Source: L.Krisztina

Source: L.Krisztina

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: two dozen


  • 8 egg yolks
  • 8 egg whites, beaten stiff
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 lemon rind, grated zest
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup walnuts, ground


  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beat thoroughly after each. Add salt, lemon zest, (or other flavoring like vanilla), mix in.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder together, add to egg mixture. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into greased and floured 12 by 18 inch pan. Sprinkle with ground nuts evenly over batter.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until done. Cut into crescent shapes with sugared drinking glass or crescent cookie cutter. (You could also score into diamond shapes). When completely cooled, sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Ground Walnuts

Adding the nuts will give depth to flavor and add to the nutrition value. Only those with allergies should forego this dessert. The rest of us can enjoy a quick treat.

Another Type Of Hungarian Kifli

Remember, there are lots of types of Kifli. The Kossuth lemon cookies are among the easiest, and have a wide range of appeal for any season of the year.

Variations On Kossuth Cookies

I think the lemon flavor is the best way to enjoy these treats, but if you wish to vary them, there are traditional recipes which have cocoa or vanilla added instead of the lemon zest. I’ve also seen a variation with cinnamon sugar, as well.

Whip up a batch next time you want something special for guests, or for a quick family dessert.

© 2013 Ilona

These Items Will Be Handy For Baking In Your Kitchen

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet

This is the perfect size for family use. A jelly roll pan that combines the heat conductive properties, easy cleaning, and never rust characteristic of aluminum. I use this pan for all sorts of things, from baking cookies to heating up sweet potato fries. The brand is one I’ve learned to trust, I also own a Nordic Ware bundt pan that has lasted me more than twenty years.

Grated Lemon Zest for Flavor

Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater

Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater

High quality cooking tool with 18/8 stainless steel with grating edges. I love that it has a handle, which saves your fingers. I need to have lemon zest for baked goods and some entrees, and it adds a pretty garnish, too.

Grab this for ginger or hard cheeses, also; it will prove itself useful.