I love the mornings in our little village. Although I am famous about my inability to wake up early in the morning, since we moved here I am up before sunrise. I have a simple morning ritual which starts by lighting the fire in the tile stove. Our gas-heaters work very well but still the fireplace gives the warmth of a home. First come the smaller logs, then the bigger ones, some twisted newspapers and the fire already crackles so I can sit down next to it and have a cup of coffee. This time Little Dog already joins me – who is actually still not a “morning girl”. She stretches herself with a little voice like a cat and sits down next to me. We are lucky living in the mountains because we get quite a lot of sun even in winter time. The first sunshines come through the entrance door to call us for a walk so I put on the green rubber boots which are a must in the countryside and we walk down the garden. Little Dog is happy since she is free! No cars, no pedestrians, no leash. Only a huge open space, the morning dew and the silhouette of the castle ruin above the village. Sometimes I am just standing there for minutes, wordless and amazed by the fact that we are here, we have arrived. After so many beautiful places I have been living, I can feel the sense of being home.
Our morning ritual is sometimes longer or shorter, depending on the day or my to do list. For me it is like a celebration of a brand new day which gives me another opportunity to collect new tastes and memories. Today will be the day for “kifli”, as its full name “The famous kifli from Vödör valley”. Vödör valley is located not far from us, next to the lake Balaton. Unfortunately I couldn’t find out why is this kifli so famous (besides it is delicious) or whether it was first baked in this valley. Anyway I found this recipe with this name on a printed paper folded very carefully in my grandmother’s- my father’s mother’s- recipe book. It is a savoury pastry, I would say it is actually a fake croissant. We brush butter between to layers of doughs, then roll them up and put some caraway seeds or cheese on the top. It is the best to eat them right away they come out of the oven. Tonight my father comes to visit us and I know how much he likes kifli. He enters the door and already smells that something is prepared for him. “I knew when I come to you there will be something delicious to eat…What are you baking?” I take a basket full of kiflis and hand over to him and I see his face full of emotions. “ You did them! Oh they look beautiful! I tried to bake them after your grandmother died but better not to talk about how they looked like…That’s delicious” – he says delighted and grabs a kifli. I imagine him taking the wooden board and the rolling pin- which he has never done before- and “fighting with the elements” to rediscover old tastes and smells.
I hide my smile and I am secretly happy that I found that carefully folded piece of paper with the recipe. The warmth of the tile stove is still very inviting so are the kifli that we are grabbing one after the other one while drinking a cup of hot tea. I am thinking about that tastes link us together regardless of time and space, they connect past and present while new memories are born. It is a strange but beautiful feeling that after so many years I brought home my grandmother’s kifli to the village where she was growing up. This is (also) why life is so beautiful.
The famous “kifli” from Vödör valley
Ingredients: 250 g margarine, 1 tbsp salt, 100 ml milk, 50 g yeast, 2 tbsp sugar, 700 g flour, 2 eggs, 100 ml kefir (available in speciality food stores or you can replace it by yoghurt), 100 ml sunflower oil, 1 egg yolk for egg wash, cumin or caraway seeds and/or grated cheese
I have prepared a half portion which was more then enough for 4 persons, but if you have a big family you will need the whole recipe. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in lukewarm milk and let it rest. Mix the butter with the salt with a mixer until it is a little bit foamy. Sift the flour and add yeasted milk, kefir, oil and eggs and knead the dough until it is soft and flexible. Divide it into 8 pieces (in case of a half portion into 4 pieces) and roll them out into circles. Brush one circle with the butter and put another circle on the top. So in case of a full portion you will have 4 “sandwiches”, and 2 in case of a half portion. Cut each circles into 8 or 12 rectangulars depending on how big “kifli” you want to get. Roll them up like a croissant and brush them with the egg yolk and sprinkle them with cumin seeds or grated cheese. Put them on a baking paper-lined oven tray leaving enough space between each other and cover them with plastic foil. Let them rest for an hour. Pre-warm the oven to 200 °C degrees. Bake them until golden brown.