It’s just not Hanukkah in a Sephardic home without bimuelos, which are sweet, donut-like fritters. Like Hanukkah itself, there are many different spelling variations of the name including bumuelos, birmuelos, burmuelos and, in Latin America, buñuelos. During Passover, the flour in bimuelos is replaced with matzah meal making them a dessert that rises to the unleavened occasion.
Because Hanukkah this year is again a version of Thanksgivukkah with the two holidays only four days apart, it seems right to make bumuelos de kalavasa — pumpkin in Ladino. In fact, pumpkin has long been a favorite ingredient in Sephardic cooking.
These one-bowl, easy-to-make bimuelos de kalavasa double in size without any yeast. I’ve added the Syrian flavors of allspice and coriander along with the cinnamon of sweeter Turkish and Greek versions. When you drop the batter in the oil, don’t worry about the shape. They are meant to be a free-form and individualistic. Bimielos are best served warm, drizzled with warm honey, maple syrup or silan (date syrup), or dusted with a healthy coating of confectioner’s sugar.
Notes: This recipe calls for canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. The fried bimuelos can be kept warm in a 200-degree oven for up to 30 minutes on top of the wire cooling racks on the baking sheets.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- Couple pinches of salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 3 cups good vegetable oil with high smoke point for frying (avocado, sunflower, safflower, peanut)
- Warm honey, maple syrup, date syrup and/or powdered sugar for serving
- Prepare one or two large baking sheets by covering them with brown paper (cut up from a shopping bag) or paper towel. Place cooling racks over the paper-covered pans and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the pumpkin and beaten eggs, mixing well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until smooth.
- In an 11- or 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat for about 6-7 minutes. The oil should be about 1/2 inch deep and is ready at 325 degrees or when a couple drops of water jump when they hit the oil.
- Use two tablespoons, one to scoop even amounts of batter and one to gently help drop it into the hot oil. Add the bimuelos in a single layer, about 6 or 7 at a time, not crowding the pan as they double in size as they. Leave undisturbed for 90 seconds to 2 minutes per side, depending on the size of the bimuelos, flipping only once using a tongs or a pair of chopsticks. Each patty should be deeply golden brown all over, crispy on the outside and soft, but cooked through, on the inside. Drain well on the prepared baking sheets.
- Best when served immediately, drizzled with warm honey, maple syrup or date syrup (silan) or sprinkled with powdered sugar. Alternatively, the choice of syrups can be passed for people to dip and drizzle themselves.