Pumpkin Borekas

Pumpkin Borekas 008


Borekas are the Sephardic Jewish version of the turnover or empanada.  Turkish in origin, the Sephardic Jews adopted these pastries as their own.  I make borekas with homemade dough, the way my mom and my grandmother did, and bake them until crisp and golden.  Once a year for Jewish New Year, I make smaller versions filled with cinnamon-scented pumpkin.  The kids at the table think of them as mini pumpkin pies, and they can easily eat five.

Make these up to 1 month ahead and freeze in an airtight container.  To reheat, defrost, and heat on a baking sheet in a 300º oven for 10 minutes


1 28 ounce can pure pumpkin

1 and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup brown sugar

1 egg, beaten


4 cups unbleached flour

2 teaspoons salt

3/4 cup safflower oil

1 cup ice water


1 egg, beaten

1 cup sesame seeds

Stir the filling ingredients together in a medium bowl.  The filling should not be runny and should retain its shape if mounded.

To make the dough, measure 4 cups of flour into a mixing bowl.  Add the salt and blend.  Whisk the oil and water together in a small bowl.  Stir the liquid into the flour with a fork.  Using your hands, gently gather the dough into a ball.  Squeeze the dough together but do not knead it like bread.

Divide the dough into pieces a little larger then an unshelled walnut.  Roll each piece in your hands to make a smooth ball.  Place the ball on a wood or stone surface and using a rolling pin, flatten it out into an even circle about 3 inches in diameter.  Do not flour or grease the countertop.  Take care not to roll over the edges of the circles, as this will thin out the edges.

Pumpkin Borekas 001

I roll out 2 sets 24 at a time.  This number fits onto a baking sheet perfectly if you make three columns of 8.  After you have your first 24 circles, place a small teaspoon or so of filling in the center of each.  Fold the circles in half and seal the edges of the resulting half moon shapes by pressing down and then by twisting them into a rope like edge.  This signature edge (repulgo in Ladino, Judeo Spanish) takes a little practice.  Or use the tines of a fork to seal the edges.  Make sure no pumpkin is oozing out, or the borekas will leak when baking.  Repeat the rolling and filling with the rest of the balls.

Pumpkin Borekas 003

Brush the top of each boreka with beaten egg and dip it in sesame seeds.  Place on the baking sheet.  I use a silicone baking sheet liner for easy clean up.

Pumpkin Borekas 005

Bake borekas at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden.  Remove from the oven and place each one gently on a cooling rack.


4 Responses

  1. Hi Linda-
    you must know, you are an inspiration! since I started reading your blog about a week ago, I have made your borekas, needed to make a honey cake for our synagogue oneg, yours was the one I made and I was all done with all my baking for Saturday a Sephardic lunch with all the fixins, but noooo what shows up today pumpkin borekas! Haven’t ever made them and had a childhood memory–they are delicious!! Next time I make bulemas, I am going to try the kasseri cheese, that seemed to be the only difference. Thank you for the inspiration. I also think we may be related…….DeLeons, Alhadeffs all my relatives!! take care and have a sweet year. Leslie

  2. these look so yummy! will try it.

  3. Will definitely be making these in the very near future – the photos alone are making me yearn for some right this second!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: