Kiflice - recipe by Maja

Kiflice - Serbian Mini Cheese Rolls

Hi! I'm Maja (pronounced Maya) alias mamajac from Cooks and Bakes, I live in Belgrade, Serbia. I joined FFTO a year ago, and now I'm proud to host the November challenge. I decided to challenge you to prepare and try one of our family recipes, for super soft mini cheese rolls. Cheese rolls we use to call kiflice are very popular savory little treats here in Serbia. They are usually served as a starter at family meetings, or as a finger food at parties and they are standard offer at city bakeries. Almost each family has it's variation of the recipe, and I'd like to share mine with you.

Recipe calls for fresh yeast, 20 g, which may be replaced with 2 tsp of instant yeast, or 2.5 tsp of active dry yeast. This is according to net research, not personal experience, so if you have other conversion method, use it. You should use as much yeast as it is usual for 500 g flour (for plain white bread dough). Recipe also calls for sunflower oil, as it is most used type of oil in Serbian cooking habits, but you can use any vegetable oil, which tastes and smells neutral (don't use olive or sesame oil with hard aroma). The final touch for those rolls is baking in fatty environment, as rolls should be surrounded with peaces of margarine/butter, on the baking pan. Please, don't skip this final tip, or you'll end up with just ordinary cheese rolls, the fat they absorb during baking is what gives them extra softness and taste and a kind of "fried" and crispy bottom of the rolls.

500 g all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
20 g fresh yeast (2 tsp instant yeast or 2.5 tsp active dry yeast)
1 tsp sugar
250 ml milk
75 ml sunflower oil
1 egg

200-250 g cottage cheese (you may use feta or other fresh cheese)
1 egg white (optional)

And more:
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
100 g butter or margarine

1. Crush the cheese using a fork. Add some salt if it tastes neutral. Stir the egg white in, if the cheese is too crumbly. Filling shouldn't be runny, but thick and compact, thicker than the cream cheese, and pretty salty.

2. For the starter - dissolve yeast with some lukewarm milk in a cup, add a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of flour, stir to get smooth batter. Set aside at room temperature, or near the stove top, to let the yeast activate and fill the cup.

3. Sift the flour, add salt. Add activated yeast, egg, oil and milk, then combine using a wooden spoon to get smooth dough. The dough seems like too soft and too sticky at the beginning, but don't worry, continue with kneading, and soon your dough should start to separate from the bowl, and thicken. It is not necessary to knead the dough by hands, the wooden spoon works just fine (you may use any spoon, of course, the wooden spoon is common tool for all stirring and kneading works here at the Balkans). Grease the cling film with oil, cover the bowl, and set aside for at least an hour, at lukewarm place, to let the dough doubles in size.

4. Re-knead the dough, divide into 5 equal parts, shape them into balls. Each part should make 8 rolls, so you'll end up with 40 rolls, which should perfectly fit the regular oven pan, if lined in 5x8 order. Flatten each ball by hands over the floury working surface, then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out in a circle, a few millimeters thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the circle into 8 triangles. Take one triangle, stretch it in the air with your hands, to get it extended as much as you can, gently. Put some filling at the triangle base, then fold the edges of the base as shown at pic2, to avoid the filling leak out during baking. Roll. Arrange the rolls at the pan (5x8).

5. Lightly beat the egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk, then brush the top of each roll with the mixture. This is used to prevent forming thick crust, and to improve the color of baked rolls. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds, if you like.

6. Arrange the small peaces of butter/margarine between the rolls, then bake in the oven preheated to 180°C for about 20 minutes. Be careful not to overbake them. Let them cool a bit, be careful as the filling is always more hot then the dough, take a seat in your favorite armchair, and start enjoying the softest cheese rolls ever. And don't think of calories, please :