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Bougatsa Recipe (Creamy, Flaky Greek Pastry for a Mouthwatering Breakfast)

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Get ready for warm bellies and wide smiles with our bougatsa recipe, and enjoy the rich, creamy, and buttery soft wonders of this beloved Greek pastry at breakfast, or any time of the day.

Bougatsa Recipe

This showstopper of a pastry dish brings together a delicately sweet and sumptuously creamy semolina custard filling in between a delightfully flaky and golden-crusted pastry casing, for a Greek dish that wows in so many ways. It is hugely popular to eat for breakfast, but between you and me, I don’t see anything wrong with gorging on it at any time of the day!

What is Bougatsa?

A historic dish dating back to the Byzantine era, bougatsa is a layered pastry with various fillings, hugely popular throughout Greece.

Bougatsa can be either sweet or savory, depending on preference. You can find a wide range of sweet bougatsa in various bakeries, commonly with its traditional and classic filling of semolina custard. However, many variations exist, including cheese or minced meat fillings for savory choices, among many others.

A classic pastry of Greek cuisine, it is also a hugely popular dish in North Macedonian cuisine, specifically brought to the town of Sérres by Greek refugees in the 20th century.

Recipe Ingredients

To make our sweet and creamy bougatsa recipe, you’ll first need the following ingredients:

  • Filo/Phyllo – 12 sheets (250 grams or 8.8 oz)
  • Semolina* – 1 cup (150 grams)
  • Whole Milk – 4 and ¼ cups (1 liter)
  • Sugar – 6.3 oz or 180 grams (∼¾ cup)
  • Butter – 7 oz or 200 grams or 14 tbsp, half for the cream and half for melting
  • Vanilla – 1 tbsp
  • Eggs – 4 (2 eggs and 2 egg yolks)
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Cinnamon – 1 tbsp, for sprinkling on top at the end
  • Icing Sugar – 1 tbsp, for sprinkling on top at the end

If you can’t find semolina in your local store, it’s readily available in online stores such as on Amazon.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Put the milk in a pot on the stove on medium heat, and warm it up for about 5 minutes until it’s warm (but not boiling).

Step 2 – In a pot over medium heat, melt half the butter (100 grams or 7 tablespoons). When it’s fully melted, add the semolina, and stir until the semolina has a golden color (approximately 3-4 minutes).

Step 3 – Slowly, over medium heat, add the warm milk to the semolina-butter mixture while whisking so that you have a smooth consistency.

Step 4 – After the milk has been incorporated, add the sugar and put the mixture on a low boil stirring all the time for about 7 minutes until it’s thick enough.

You can tell it’s thick enough if you can put a spoon in the mixture, take it out and draw a line on it that stays separated.

Step 5 – Once the mixture is thick enough, turn the heat off and add the vanilla and stir. Let the mixture cool off until it’s at room temperature.

Cover with some cling film to prevent it from forming a hard layer on the top. Wait until the mixture is cool (about 15 minutes). If you want it to cool down faster, you can keep stirring and/or move it to another cold pot.

Step 6 – Beat 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks with a pinch of salt. Save the two egg whites you’re not using here for another recipe.

Step 7 – Slowly add the eggs to the cooled semolina mixture. You want to make sure the mixture is at room-temperature (and not hotter) or it will cook the eggs! So, patience is key here!

Step 8 – Melt the remaining half butter (100 grams or 7 tbsp).

Note: Now, it’s time to assemble the bougatsa in the baking dish. Keep in mind that filo/phyllo sheets dry out very quickly once you take them out of their package. So, once you open the filo, put the sheets under a kitchen towel (preferably damp) like below to keep them from drying out as you take one sheet at a time to assemble the bougatsa.

Step 9 – In a baking dish, add some melted butter and spread it with a pastry brush.

Step 10 – Add half the filo sheets, brushing each layer with butter.

As you continue to build layers, your tray should look like ours below.

Step 11 – With half your filo layers in the tray, add the mixture and smooth it out.

If the filo sheets are too big for the pan, you can trim them or, like us, turn them on top of the mixture.

Step 12 – Add the remaining half of filo sheets, brushing each layer with butter.

Before you put it in the oven, score the top sheets. It makes it easier to cut without breaking the filo once the bougatsa is baked. We scored ours into eights, as shown below.

Step 13 – Bake in the preheated oven at 360°F or 180°C for about 35-40 minutes until golden.

Finish with a generous dusting of sugar and cinnamon, and you are ready to serve.

Those colors are just gorgeous to lay eyes on. Cut yourself a slice, and let it sit on the plate.

Serving Suggestions

You can absolutely eat this pastry hot, straight from the oven. However, we definitely prefer to let it sit and cool so that the delicious, creamy filling has time to meld and thicken, further intensifying both the flavor and texture of every mouthful.

You could also try it with:

Coffee – Do as the Greeks do, and enjoy a square or slice with your morning coffee. You could also eat it with tea.

Greek Yogurt – Consider a big dollop of Greek yogurt, or even ice cream, if serving it warm.

Fruit Preserves or Compote – Add some sweetness and tartness with a spoonful or two of a berry, apple, or other fruit-based preserves or compotes.

This is such a great dish to serve as a dessert or for breakfast if you love something a little sweet in the morning and you want to do as the Greeks do. We really hope you love this classic dish because it’s just so creamy and delicious!

Bougatsa Recipe Card

Bougatsa

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Author: Nomad Paradise

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 12 sheets 250 grams or 8.8 oz of filo/phyllo
  • 1 cup 150 grams of semolina
  • 4 and ¼ cups 1 liter of whole milk
  • 6.3 oz or 180 grams ∼¾ cup of sugar
  • 7 oz or 200 grams or 14 tbsp of butter half for the semolina filling and half for brushing on the filo sheets
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla
  • 4 eggs 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon for sprinkling on top at the end
  • 1 tbsp of icing sugar/powdered sugar for sprinkling on top at the end

Instructions

  • Put the milk in a pot on the stove on medium heat, and warm it up for about 5 minutes until it’s warm (but not boiling).
  • In a pot over medium heat, melt half the butter (100 grams or 7 tablespoons). When it’s fully melted, add the semolina, and stir until the semolina has a golden color (approximately 3-4 minutes).
  • Slowly, over medium heat, add the warm milk to the semolina-butter mixture while whisking so that you have a smooth consistency.
  • After the milk has been incorporated, add the sugar and put the mixture on a low boil stirring all the time for about 7 minutes until it’s thick enough. You can tell it’s thick enough if you can put a spoon in the mixture, take it out and draw a line on it that stays separated.
  • Once the mixture is thick enough, turn the heat off and add the vanilla, and stir. Let the mixture cool off until it’s at room temperature. Cover with some cling film to prevent it from forming a hard layer on the top. Wait until the mixture is cool (about 15 minutes). If you want it to cool down faster, you can keep stirring and/or move it to another cold pot.
  • Beat 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks with a pinch of salt. Save the two egg whites you’re not using here for another recipe.
  • Slowly add the eggs to the cooled semolina mixture. You want to make sure the mixture is at room-temperature (and not hotter) or it will cook the eggs! So, patience is key here!
  • Melt the remaining half butter (100 grams or 7 tbsp).
  • Now, it's time to assemble the bougatsa. In a baking tray, add some melted butter and spread it with a pastry brush.
  • Add half the filo sheets one at a time, brushing each layer with butter.
  • With half your filo layers in the tray, add the semolina mixture and smooth it out. If the filo sheets are too big for the pan, you can trim them or, like us, turn them on top of the mixture.
  • Add the remaining half of the filo sheets, brushing each layer with butter. Before you put it in the oven, score the top sheets We scored ours into eights.
  • Bake in the preheated oven at 360°F or 180°C for about 35-40 minutes until golden.
  • Finish with a dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon, and you are ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

Remember that once you open the package of filo/phyllo, the sheets can dry out very quickly, so first, put the filo sheets under a kitchen towel (preferably damp) to keep them from drying out while you take out one at a time for assembling the bougatsa in the baking dish.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nomadparadisefood or tag #nomadparadisefood!

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Bougatsa Recipe (Creamy, Flaky Greek Pastry for a Mouthwatering Breakfast)

Contributor: Efimia is a retired teacher and passionate home cook, who has been feeding friends, family, and loved ones a range of European dishes for over forty years and counting.

Author

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

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Monday 17th of April 2023

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