Childhood memories particularly play a role in how we regard food. Foods from our formative years and special occasions can become a very emotional experience, bringing us ‘back home’ to one’s beginnings.
Kase Knepfla is one of those foods for me. The name translates as ‘cheese buttons’ (kase = cheese, knopf = buttons). I have read somewhere, they were probably a version of the Ukrainian ‘vareniki’ that German immigrants developed to suit their own tastes.
To make them you need dry curd cottage cheese. I recall my mother making her own cottage cheese on the back ‘burner’ of our old wood/coal burning stove. Of course, this not being to interesting to a ‘kid’, I really never gave it any thought. It seemed that the milk was put in a certain place on the stove so it wouldn’t get too hot or it would become stringy as it turned to ‘cheese’.
Similar to a perogy, cheese buttons are made of a tender noodle dough. The dough is rolled out thinly and either cut into squares or circles, filled with a cottage cheese mixture, boiled then briefly browned in butter. I have noticed, in looking at numerous kase knepfla recipes, the cottage cheese filling is made with onions, salt and pepper. The only kind that I can remember my mother making was slightly sweet with a touch of cinnamon. No doubt, this was a version my parents grew up with themselves. Nevertheless, I am trying to preserve history one post at a time’….
Traditionally kase knepfla was served with summer sausage and beet pickles. For our meal, I paired them with some homemade pork sausage medallions, squash and fresh broccoli. We loved it!
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 cup sour cream
Kase Knepfla Dough
- In a bowl, mix ingredients into a smooth dough, cover and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- In a bowl, combine dry cottage cheese, egg, sugar, cinnamon & salt. Filling should be thick enough to hold its shape in a spoon.
- Roll dough quite thin on a floured surface. Using a small scoop, place balls of filling along one end of dough about 2 inches up from outside edge. Fold dough over filling; using a small round cutter ( or small glass) cut out kase knepfla. If edges aren't sealed, just pinch as needed.
- Continue until all the filling & dough are used. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop 'buttons' carefully into water & boil slowly for about 5 minutes. Kase knepfla should float when cooked. Drain. I a large saucepan, melt some butter; add buttons, making sure to have only one layer. Brown lightly on both sides.
14 thoughts on “Kase Knepfla – Cheese Buttons”
When I was a child, my German step-father’s aunt made this as part of Sunday dinner. I can remember that she had cheese in cloths hanging out in a tree. This always smelled so good when it came out of the kitchen and even though that was over 70 years ago I can still remember what she called it so I was thrilled when I decided to look for it, and this sight popped up. Thank you.
My mother & grandmother made these. Dry cottage cheese was hard to find. My mother used large curd cottage cheese; hers were the best. I make them now. We served with butter and\or cream.
I am currently making them for a family gathering tomorrow north of Seattle. My grandparents and kids lived in Glen Ullin, ND until the mid 1960s. Our recipe is not sweet. It’s 4 cups of flour, 2 egg white whites 1 cup water approximately and salt to taste. Filling is 2 egg yolks, 1 pint of dry cottege cheese, salt to taste. Let dough rest for 3 hours. Roll and cut into squares. Fill with a tablespoon of filling and fold opposite corners together to make a triangle and seal the edges. Boil in water (salted if desired). Save the excess dough to cut into small rectangles. Heat oil in pan and fry an onion. Remove and place rectangles in pan. They become hard like a crouton and we call these krislas. When boiling the kaysnip (cheese buttons) some will pop open, we call those the flappers…they were my grandpa’s favorites. In a bowl place a layer of kaysnip then krislas, alternate until the top and end with krislas on top. Of course served with handmade wurst. Others fry them after boiling them but our family doesn’t. Maybe because my grandparents had so many kids (13)and didnt have time to fry them.
My mother preferred to fry them rather than boil them. She made a sweet syrup from the left over oil in the pan. She served these with fried ham and from the drippings she made a gravy. My favorite is the sweet syrup pour over. She called them Verinika/Porogi.
Oh my goodness, I grew up with Kate Kneeland on the farm in North Dakota. I always loved these and can practically smell them right now. My mom is old and can’t remember the recipe anymore. I’m so glad I found this. Thank you!
My mom added chopped green onion to the filling, so not sweet…on the inside. When she browned them in butter, she added bread crumbs. She also opened a jar of canned peaches and we poured the syrup with several peach slices, at lease half the time. Thank you! I have been craving these!
My German grandmother made these. I know she made them with dry cottage cheese. These cheese filled triangles were served smothered in a rich cream sauce which had chopped onions that were gently sauteed in butter. Her cheese buttons were soft and tender. Thank you for the recipe I did not have one. Where do you find dry cottage cheese or how do you make it?
Thanks for taking the time to comment. Here in Alberta, Canada dry cottage cheese is always available in the dairy department of our larger grocery chains.
I live in Billings, Montana. I have also craving them but I can’t find dry cottage cheese. I’ll go down to where milk and etc. are made and see if I can get some. When the cold weather warms up I’ll go down there. In the mean time throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas I have been making Kuchen! Big hit! Everyone’s requesting it. I traded elk and venison for one pie tin!! Merry Christmas and a happy new year!!
you can always use the regular cottage cheese and just rinse it well and let it drain.
My Great Grandma Heine made these and her recipe passed down thru the family. I have not had in many years when my mom would make them, she served fried in browned butter with sour kraft. So good
My mother made them similar to Alice. A little sweeter and a little more cinnamon. Once boiled and drained she would fry them with butter and bread crumbs to a light crunchy texture and serve with fresh canned fruit. Pears or peaches were always the best!!
I use farmers cheese but have only found it at Whole Foods.
If you can’t find dry cottage cheese, I found Coutija cheese that works perfectly.