A Sephardi Delight That's Simple to Make, but Impossible to Stop Eating

Baked or fried, filled or plain, sweet or savory - boyos and their little counterpart, boyikos, are delicious anyway you make them.

Vered Guttman
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Vered Guttman

Shavuot may be over, but that doesn't mean our love affair with cheese and pastries has to be.

Now that the holiday fever has died down, it's time to experiment with some delicious cuisine you may never have tried. For instance: Boyikos.

Boyikos are small cheese biscuits that originate from the Sephardi cuisine of the Balkans (mainly Bulgaria) and Turkey. Boyikos are part of the boyos family of pastries, and the Ladino name is a diminution of boyos, as little buns.

Boyos come baked or fried, filled or plain, sweet or savory. The boyikos are the simplest in the family, and that’s what I like about them.

The recipe calls for self-rising flour, or flour mixed with baking powder, which is simpler and quicker than using yeast. The flour is mixed with yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta or Israeli white cheese, and any leftover grated hard cheese you have from Shavuot.

The traditional recipes use kashkaval, a Balkan hard cheese made from sheep milk. You can get kaskhaval in some Middle Eastern and European markets, or you can replace it with the Italian pecorino.

For this Boyikos recipe, any grated hard cheese will do the job, and you can even experiment with feta until you find your favorite combination.

It is easy to add various flavors to the basic boyikos recipe. Try throwing in fresh herbs into the batter, or chopped walnuts, chopped sautéed spinach, a little mustard, or do as my mother does and add a pitted olive in each boyikos.

You can sprinkle the pastries with black and regular sesame seeds, or with cheese. Either way, the boyikos are so simple and delicious that it’s hard to stop eating them, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself making them again and again.

Cheese-filled boyikosCredit: Vered Guttman