Thursday, December 14, 2006

lokma lessons

lokma (loukoumades) *bimuelos

this is a typical sephardic hanukkah pastry which is fried in oil, and like almost all middle eastern pastries, soaked in a sweet syrup. it is worth all the effort — at the very least, once a year. *in ladino, these are called bimuelos and are but only one kind or type of bimuelo — there are a variety, the word bimuelo often denoting something tasty fried in oil. bimuelos can also take the form of pancakes, small "cakes" or fritters. it can be confusing at times which is why i called them by their turkish (or greek) name for this posting. amongst spanish speaking jews, they would be mostly called "bimuelos". an interesting article can be read here.

for the recipe itself, please refer to my previous post for the 2006 holiday festive food fair. this is a parve (no meat, no dairy) dessert and appropriate for both strict vegetarians and vegans.

the dry ingredients are first mixed in a bowl and then liquid is added to make a pancake type batter which will be set to rest for the yeast to activate. here, i have opted for the faster method of using instant yeast which can be mixed directly with the dry ingredients.

after a final mixing and incorporating the oil and flavourings, the bowl is then covered and placed in a warm spot. once the yeast has proved and the batter has risen enough, oil is placed over a medium heat to obtain the correct temperature [around 375 F].

a cookie sheet is set up nearby with paper towels to absorb the excess oil once the lokma are cooked. a small dish or bowl with oil and a spoon is set next to the work area to facilitate with the batter dropping easily into the hot oil. you can also just use two spoons, one to push the batter off the other.

the lokma are gently and carefully dropped into the oil and fried on both sides until they are golden brown. lower the heat if they brown too quickly. the more you place in at one time, the lower the heat will drop.

part of the fun is seeing what shapes you will end up with. they won't always be perfectly round but if you use less water in the batter, you can control for that better shaping. i happen to like mine less doughy on the interior and use more of a wet batter so that they are light and crisp. {i should add here that these are not the perfectly round ones, each being exactly the same, you'd see at a vendor specialized in making lokma and other such pastries. in hindsight, i wonder what results i would have obtained had i used a cookie gun-type implement for extruding them; perhaps a big gloppy mess? i'll have to save that experiment for another time}. this is more of a home-style preparation yet equally as delicious, made by your own hands and something with which to delight your guests. once fried to the correct doneness, they are placed on paper towels to drain.

the interior of a perfectly cooked specimen :P

when the lokma are all cooked and set aside to cool, the simple sugar syrup is made. it is composed of sugar, water, a little lemon juice and then later flavoured with either orange blossom water or rose water. orange or lemon zest can be added also. note that this can be done the other way around — make the syrup and let it cool and then make the lokma. the rule of thumb for these pastries is always hot pastry, cold syrup or cold pastry, hot syrup.

once cooked to a thin syrup, the lokma are put in and well coated. they will soak for about a minute and then are put on a serving plate.

the reserved syrup is served along side and the pastries sprinkled with chopped pistachios and fresh orange or lemon zest, if you like.


to be enjoyed with a strong cup of turkish coffee.

happy holidays — חג שמח

before i forget, these may also be made and dusted with only powdered (icing) sugar instead of being dipped in the syrup. they taste very good that way, too.

here is a second recipe which unlike the other one, calls for eggs in the dough and uses honey in the syrup and not just sugar. it is from cookbook author gloria kaufer-greene. i have used this recipe and it works well also.

Hanukkah Bimuelos (Fried Honey Puffs)

from the author:

"This is the most traditional Hanukkah treat for Sephardic Jews who come from Greece and Turkey. Bimuelos (or burmuelos/bunuelos) is the pastry's Judeo-Spanish name, loukoumades (or loukoumathes) is its Greek one, and lokma is its Turkish one. Sephardic Jews actually use the name "bimuelos" for a number of foods in addition to this one. For instance, it can also mean pancakes or fried patties, or even a type of baked muffins."
--Gloria Kaufer Greene



1 packet active dry yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.), divided
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose white flour, preferably unbleached
1/4 teaspoon salt

Honey Syrup

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

For Frying and Garnish
Vegetable oil
Ground cinnamon


For the batter, mix together the yeast, 1/2 cup of the warm water, and the sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Let the yeast mixture rest for about 5 minutes, or until it is foamy. Stir in the remaining batter ingredients (including the remaining 1/2 cup water) until smooth. The batter should be very loose and sticky. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let the batter rise for 1 hour. (If necessary, the batter can be stirred down at this point and allowed to rise for another 30 minutes.)

While the batter is rising, prepare the honey syrup. Mix together all the ingredients in a 2-quart or similar saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring only until the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat slightly and boil the syrup, uncovered and undisturbed, for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

When the batter has risen, stir it down. Put enough oil into a large saucepan or a wok so that it is about 1-1/2 inches deep. Heat the oil until it is very hot, about 375 degrees F. Dip a teaspoon into the oil, and then use the spoon to scoop up a small portion of the batter. Gently drop the batter into the oil. (Keep your opposite hand moistened, in case you need to nudge the batter off the spoon. The batter will not stick to wet hands.) The dollop of batter will quickly puff up to almost twice its original size. Make more puffs in the same manner, but do not crowd the pan. Fry the bimuelos, turning them occasionally with a slotted spoon, until they are browned on all sides and very crisp.

Drain them briefly on paper towels or on the rack that attaches to some woks. Then drop 1 or 2 at a time into the cooled syrup (see Note). Use a different spoon or tongs (so the syrup will not get oily) to turn the hot bimuelos in the syrup until they become completely coated with it. Lift the bimuelos up, and let the excess syrup drain off. Put the bimuelos on a large plate. Repeat the frying and dipping process until all the batter is used. Then sprinkle the bimuelos generously with cinnamon. For best taste and texture, serve them as soon as possible.

Note: If desired, the bimuelos may be fried in advance, and coated with hot syrup just before serving. Some Sephardic cooks prefer to stir about 1 teaspoon cinnamon into the syrup, and then let each guest pour a bit of syrup over his or her own serving of bimuelos. In some households, purchased pancake syrup is used. Another easy alternative is 1 cup honey mixed with 1/4 to 1/3 cup water, heated just until blended and hot. Use while warm to drizzle over the bimuelos.

Yield: about 36 bimuelos (honey puffs).

The Jewish Holiday Cookbook
by Gloria Kaufer Greene
ISBN: 0812912241


beenzzz said...

YUM! This is kinda similar to Gulab Jaman.

burekaboy — said...

i have always thought so, too. i wouldn't doubt for a second that they are cousins and somehow the recipe was passed from one group to the other through trade many centuries ago.

chanit said...

Yummy !
לא אכלתי אף פעם, צילום והכנה מושלמים, תודה על השיתוף

burekaboy — said...

חנית - זה משהו ממש טעים שאת צריכה לנסות פעם אחת

רואים אותם בזמן חג חנוכה. אולי את מכירה אותם בשם בימואלוס?

חג שמח
iiii I iiii

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

I suppose "bimuelos" is related to "buñuelos" (usually deep-fried and cinnamon-sugared tortillas, I think)?

burekaboy — said...

hi emily, yes -- you would be completely right. it's probably the most direct (correct) link and is the ladino spelling & pronounciation for them.

Rosa said...

Waow, yummy!!! I love deep fried food. Those "Bimuelos" really look mouthwatering!!!

burekaboy — said...

hey rosa - haha, i have to tape my mouth shut when i make these or i'll eat them all! they are one of my favourite things. hanukkah is a deep-fried lovers fest!! :P

tschoerda said...

how interesting! we have a very similar dish in austria - minus the syrup. i have no clue if it is a regional thing, but we call it "gebackene mäuse" (baked mice) and we usually serve it around mardi gras ... it tastes a lot like a doughnut

anyway, i wish you a happy holiday season with lots of good food!

burekaboy — said...

hi tschoerda - thanks for stopping by! lol...baked mice. i think my cat would LOVE those!! a very cute name for, i am sure, a delicious pastry (like all austrian desserts!).

thanks for the holiday wish. a merry christmas to you and the best for this coming new year.

tschoerda said...

thank you! hey, i come here quite often! i am just a little lazy with the comments :)

burekaboy — said...

tschoerda - glad to hear, whether you comment or not. sometimes it's just fun to look! :)

Liz said...

My family also makes bimuelos! Except ours always have been a Passover staple -- so the recipe is pretty different.

burekaboy — said...

hi liz - welcome and thanks for the comment. chag same'ach :)

we also make an item for passover and call them bimuelos but they're made from matzo meal and sort like ashkenazi matzo meal "latkes". there is also a passover lokma equivalent we make which is the same as what i've posted here.

my family doesn't call lokma "bimuelos" but lots of people do (i guess deep fried dough qualifies anything using the term; depends from where your family comes).