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Two crescent-shaped pastries on a white plate
Two kifli, the left one salted
CourseBreakfast, Coffee break
Place of originAustria-Hungary
Region or stateBalkans, Central Europe
Serving temperatureWarm or room temperature
Main ingredientsWheat flour

Kifli or kipfel is a traditional yeast bread roll that is rolled and formed into a crescent before baking. Crescent-shaped pastries are considered to be the oldest-surviving pastry shape and are believed to represent an ancient pagan tradition involving offerings to the moon goddess Selene. Pastries of similar shape have been baked since at least the 10th century in monasteries. In Vienna kipfel dates to at least the 13th century and was likely traditionally baked in monasteries for Easter.

It is a common type of bread roll throughout much of central Europe and nearby countries, where it is called by different names. It is thought to be the inspiration for the French croissant, which has a very similar shape but is made with a different type of dough.


The breadstuff or pastry is called kifli in Hungarian and Kipferl in Austrian German.[1][2] It is called kifla (pl. kiflice) in Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian,[3] кифла or kifla in Bulgarian, кифла in Macedonian, kifle in Albanian, giffel in Danish[4] and Swedish, rohlík in Czech,[5] rožok in Slovak,[6] рогалик/rogalik in Russian, рогалик/rohalyk in Ukrainian, rogljiček in Slovene, rogal in Polish, cornuleț in Romanian, Hörnchen (little horn) in German,[1] gipfel in Switzerland,[7] and kipfl in Austrian Italy.[1] In Vienna it is sometimes called a Meidlinger roll or küpfel.[1]


In Old High German, Kipfa means "carriage stanchion", referring to the stanchions or "horns" of a cart.[8] From the 13th century this usage refers to a bread shape of pagan origin.[8] In Hungarian, kifli means "twist" or "crescent".[1][2]


Breads or pastries in the shape of a crescent moon are believed to have been served in ancient times as offerings to the goddess of the moon, Selene.[8] The shape is also reminiscent of horns; both are associated with ancient symbolism and considered the oldest surviving pastry shape.[7][8] A moon shaped pastry creates itself naturally by hand-rolling a ball of dough into a cylinder form.

A list of foods eaten in a 10th-century convent include panis lunatis, described as a small crescent-shaped roll often eaten during fasts.[9]

The kipfel has been documented in Austria to at least 1227 when they were recorded in Babenberg-ruled Vienna as chipfen:[1][8][7]:4

dô brâchten im die pecken

chipfen und weiʒe flecken,

weiʒer dann ein hermelein.

In Austria kipfel is formally recognized by the government as a traditional food.[8] According to the Austrian Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism, kipfel were probably a traditional monastery pastry baked for Easter.[8] They are described as crescent-shaped rolls made of yeast wheat dough in a variety of shapes and as being popular for coffee breaks and breakfasts, particularly in Vienna.[8]

The kipfel likely inspired the similarly-shaped French croissant, which is made from a laminated pastry dough.[8][7]

Origin myths[edit]

A common culinary myth claims that when Christian forces freed Buda from Ottoman occupation in 1686 the bakers of the town celebrated the victory the next day by selling freshly baked bread rolls made into a crescent shape. Another story claims the kipfel was invented in Vienna after or during the siege of the city by Ottoman Turks.[8]


Kifli are a traditional Hungarian yeasted bread rolled into a crescent shape.[10] Kifli are often baked to enhance the flavour. The Austrian kipfel is a small wheat roll with pointed ends.[1] The 17th-century Austrian monk Abraham a Sancta Clara described the roll as crescent shaped, writing "the moon in the first quarter shines like a kipfl", and noted there were kipfel in various forms: "vil lange, kurze, krumpe und gerade kipfel" ("many long, short, crooked and straight kipfel").[1]


Traditionally, kifli are made by cutting sheets of soft yeast dough into triangular wedges, rolling them into crescent shapes and baking them. Unlike the French croissant (crescent), Kifli is made from a plain, bread-like dough and is more akin to a roll than to pastry. Kifli is also thinner and longer than the croissant. Kifli are made in various sizes; some of them weigh as much as small bread loaf.[citation needed]

In commercial preparation, the dough is mixed, cut into small pieces, and fed into a machine that flattens and rolls it. The following manual process is similar to the traditional process.[citation needed]



tray of rolls with sesame seeds
In Serbia and North Macedonia, kifli are sometimes made with cheese and sesame.
Plate of bread rolls
Homemade spelt kiflice, filled with sheep cheese and topped with sesame seeds, made for Serbian Christmas (January 7).

When they come out of the oven, the rolls can be left plain or brushed with water to make them shiny. They can be given an egg wash and sprinkled with either poppy seeds or caraway seeds mixed with coarse salt. The latter variety is often made into a straight shape rather than a crescent. Kifli is eaten like bread or rolls; it is usually made into a sandwich, sometimes plain or with butter like a fresh baguette. Often, especially for breakfast, the topping is jam or honey. They may also be used for dunking.[citation needed]


This is the same as the regular style but the dough may contain butter or other shortening and milk. It is sweeter than the regular variety and is well-suited to be eaten with jam or honey, and is commonly eaten for breakfast with coffee, hot chocolate or milk. It might also be an accompaniment for drinks like Doogh and Kumis.[citation needed]


There are a couple of sweet rolls named "kifli" to describe their shape; they are eaten at the end of a meal or with an afternoon drink; these are not kifli, which when used on its own, always means the regular or fine varieties.[citation needed] In German, these are differentiated with a different spelling: kipferl compared to kipfel for the yeast bread.[8]

  • Vanillekipferl is a small, soft cookie made from a dough of ground nuts instead of flour. It is usually made with walnuts but almonds are more often used outside of Hungary. Once baked they are rolled in vanilla-flavored confectioners' sugar then allowed to cool.[11]
  • bratislavské rožky, diós kifli, mákos kifli, also known as Pozsonyi kifli, are crescent-shaped, sweet, leavened pastries filled with a sweet walnut or poppy paste. They are a variety of beigli, very similar in flavor but different in shape and size.[citation needed]

Other uses[edit]

Stale kipfel are used to make a sweet bread pudding called Kipfelkoch.[8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Grimm, Jacob; Grimm, Wilhelm. "Kipfel". Deutsches Wörterbuch. Archived from the original on 1 January 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b "The history of the croissant". Archived from the original on 1 January 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Kifla in English, translation, Serbo Croatian-English Dictionary". Glosbe. Archived from the original on 24 December 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  4. ^ "Giffel in English, translation, Danish-English Dictionary". Glosbe. Archived from the original on 24 December 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Czech Rohlik (Roll) Baked in Oven Recipe -". Archived from the original on 1 January 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  6. ^ "Rožok in English, translation, Slovak-English Dictionary". Glosbe. Archived from the original on 24 December 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d Chevallier, Jim (5 October 2009). August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoiserie Came to France. pp. 3–7. ISBN 978-1-4486-6784-0.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Kipfel,". Archived from the original on 1 January 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  9. ^ Keller, Ferdinand (1864). Benedictiones Ad Mensa Ekkehardi Monachi. London: The Archeological Journal. p. 352., cited in Chevallier (2009) p4.
  10. ^ Czégény, Clara Margaret (2006). Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes. Dream Machine Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9780254-0-3.
  11. ^ "Vanillekipferl Recipe". Archived from the original on 24 December 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2020.