Pumpkin or butternut filo-like coiled pastries are delectable, fragrant with the warming spices of cinnamon and cloves.
The distinctive coil or “rose“ shape is said to have been symbolic of the “Island of Roses (Isola de les Rose),” as the Italians called the beautiful island of Rhodes during their occupation from 1912.
Flaky “boyos de kalavasa,“ (also known as rodanchas), are customarily offered at the Sephardic New Year table, usually a sweeter version, with roasted chopped almonds in the filling.
For an easier version you can simply use store-bought filo pastry and make these as an unusual addition to a dairy Thanksgiving dinner!
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit).
Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and brush with oil. Put the pumpkin on the tray. Toss to coat lightly in the oil and bake for about one hour or until soft. Alternatively to steam the pumpkin: Pour water into a pan to a depth of about two and 1/2 centimeters (one inch). Place a steamer basket in the pan. The water should come just up to the bottom of the steamer. Cover and bring to a boil. Place the pumpkin in the basket. Cover the pan and let steam for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
Place the hot pumpkin in a clean tea towel and squeeze out excess liquid. Put the cooked pumpkin in a bowl and mash. Add the sugar, salt, spices, cheeses and mix thoroughly.
Prepare the starter: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the sugar in a small bowl. Stir, cover with plastic wrap and let stand for five to 10 minutes, until frothy.
Put two and a half cups flour with the salt in a large bowl. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the proofed yeast. Add the warm water and mix well until a sticky dough mass begins to form. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding a little flour if still sticky.
Divide the dough into 20 golf-ball-size pieces. Roll each piece into smooth balls between your palms and immerse in the prepared dish of oil. Turn balls over once to coat well and let sit in the oil.
Take one ball at a time, starting with the ones first placed in the oil and press between your palms to flatten. Place on a work surface and with the fingertips of both hands press the dough outwards as much as possible. Then working around the flattened dough gently lift and stretch the edges outwards with your fingertips until paper thin and about 30 centimeters (12 inches) in diameter. Brush lightly with the melted butter and oil mixture over the stretched dough and cut off any thick edges with a sharp knife and discard. Sprinkle with a little of the prepared flour and cheese mixture.
Spread about three tablespoons of filling evenly along the long edge of the stretched dough and roll gently into one long cylinder about three and a half centimeters (one and a half inches) in diameter. Then coil the roll into a spiral shape with the seam-side down. Repeat until all the pastry and filling are used up.
Brush the tops lightly with the melted butter and oil mixture and sprinkle with cheese.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit). Line two baking trays with Gefen Parchment Paper.
Transfer the filled pastries to the baking trays, leaving a little space between them. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve hot.