Your participation is not only encouraging but proving to be very, very helpful; it is our collective personal experience that leads me toward what I believe are the right conclusions for so many unanswered questions about Sephardic food.
Recently, for example, I’ve been wondering why there are so many variations of boyos that, apart from the name ‘boyo’, seem to bear no resemblance whatsoever to one another. Why on Earth would cookies and biscuits be categorized as buns (which is what ‘boyo’ means)? I did draw one conclusion, based on how recipes evolve, which I included in the glossary (read that post here). But that conclusion, for all its logic, didn’t quite satisfy me. Thanks to your participation, I now know why: The common denominator is one of technique. All indications from my own family’s recipies, from my Sephardic cookbooks and from your comments, are that in making any kind of traditional boyo - whether dough only or filled, savory or sweet - the individual pastry is formed in part by flattening it with the heel of your hand. My great grandmother used this technique to make yeast dough boyos filled with spinach and kashkaval; Michael at herbivoracious.com does the same with his boyikos; and a woman seeking a recipe for boyos de vino described the same process, even though boyos de vino are sweet cookies made from biscocho dough. The only exception may prove to be boyos de fila – boyos made with phyllo dough – because the dough is so fragile (My own use of a rolling pin to make boyos de rayo is also a relatively modern adaptation). But I may stand corrected depending on what else I learn.
Interestingly, everyone who’s written me so far about boyos (or boyikos - “little boyos”) of any kind seems to identify only one pastry as a boyo – as if within families there is/was room for only one kind of boyo. This is the case in my family, also – unless someone’s been holding out on me…
Do these hold true in your experience, too?