Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Boy, Oh Boyiko -- Easy Cheesy Balls


Every Jewish family has their traditional dishes to break the Yom Kippur Fast, which lasts 26 hours from sundown to sundown over 2 days.  Whether it is an Ashkenazi noodle kugel or Sephardi cheese bourekas--dairy and carbs are a running theme!  Boyikos very much embody what Sephardi cooking represents, a journey, an adaptation of the Spanish language, and embodiment of local dishes along the way.

Boyikos are similar to the Levantine Bourekas (a.k.a boreks), which are a flaky pastry with cheese and other savory fillings. However Boyikos have more of a doughy base. The word is derived from the Spanish word for buns--bollos. The -ko or -ka ending is a diminutive found in some Eastern European countries. Boyikos are credited to the Balkan region.

Given that gluten free dough can be tricky, I love to use prepared or easy to mix-up gluten free pizza dough. Recently, I've found a great one in the refrigerated section of Trader Joe's. It's useful not only for pizza, but garlic knots, cinnamon rolls and soft bread sticks. This recipe has 4 ingredients and you don't even need to knead...or properly roll anything out for that matter. It takes about 10 minutes to prep and bakes in 15 minutes. You can prepare it right after the fast or make ahead and reheat for a warm cheesy treat!  

These are my quick approximation of the dish--so apologies to all the traditionalists. You can also "bill" these as bagel bites for the more Ashkenazi inclined (and in all fairness...they are amazing gluten free copycats of Bantam bagel bites).

Note: The recipe calls for an egg wash and sesame seed topping, if you are allergic to either, you can omit both. This recipe works well with onion flakes, poppy seeds or even coarse sea salt as a topping. Just roll dough balls in topping if omitting egg wash. Non-dairy dough mixes like Bob's Red Mill are wonderful for this recipe too.


(Cheesy Dough Balls/Bagel Bites)

1 batch prepared gluten free pizza dough (such as Trader Joe's or Bob's Red Mill mix)

6-ounces of cheese, e.g., chevre, cream cheese, queso fresco or any easily meltable hard cheese (dairy or non-dairy), cut into dice sized cubes

1 egg white, beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, or onion flakes, or poppy seeds or coarse sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 425F degrees. Line a non-stick cookie sheet with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil, set aside.

On a non-stick surface, such as parchment paper or Silipat, roll pizza dough into a 3-inch diameter log. Slice into approximately 12, 1/4-inch thick rounds. Lay an inch apart. Cover with a second sheet of parchment paper or waxed paper. Press flat with the palm of your hands, the bottom of a glass or a rolling pin or wine bottle. 

Place a cheese cube in center of each dough round. Pinch up edges in center. Roll to form a ball and place on prepared cookie sheet. For a more "bagel bite" shape, leave in ball form, or press down gently with the palm of your hand to form a more traditional bun shape. 

Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with topping of your choice.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown on top. Serve warm.

May be wrapped tightly in foil or plastic wrap and frozen. Reheat at 325 degrees, covered loosely with foil.

Yield: 12 dozen