How To Cook Traditional Greek Bougatsa
Greek Bougatsa always reminds me of my childhood and holidays in Greece. I have been exploring a lot Greece with my family during our summer vacations and I would always have for breakfast this Greek pastry called Bougatsa. This is like one of my fondest childhood memories to me, and even now as a grown up I crave for Bougatsa and try to cook it whenever I’ve got time. I got this recipe from our friends in Greece and tried it. It’s not easy cooking Bougatsa, as you must try several times to actually get the right flavor. But I guarantee you; you’re going to love it as much as I do. And making it by yourself is always a special feeling. Last morning I felt like cooking my own Greek breakfast and now it can be your Greek craving too.
The key to make the most flavourful Greek Bougatsa is to use a good quality fresh butter to butter the phyllo sheets. The authentic Greek Bougatsa recipe calls for ‘galaktos’ butter made from cow’s milk, which gives a very rich flavour and amazing smell! When preparing phyllo based Greek desserts, like this Bougatsa recipe, a little trick to make the phyllo crispier and flakier is to sprinkle the melted butter over the phyllo sheets, rather than brushing them. Working with phyllo can be tricky as its brittle and can dry out very quickly, so check the handling tips before start preparing this Bougatsa recipe. Don’t forget to brush the top of the bougatsa with enough butter and scar with a knife to help release the steam.
Ingredients for phyllo dough :
1024 gram all-purpose flour
2 tsp Raki (or white vinegar)
2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
293-314 ml hot water
flour for work surface and hands
Note: The key to the recipe is hot water. Use hottest tap water.
To roll out with a pasta machine
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand until it holds together
On a floured surface, knead by hand for 15-20 minutes until soft and malleable, with a smooth feel
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before using
To make phyllo sheets for pastries, run it through the pasta machine (with settings from 1-10, with 1 being the thickest), gradually working it down to setting mark 9 on your machine.
Unused phyllo can be kept in the refrigerator, in air-tight wrapping, for up to 10 days after making
Yield: approximately 1.3 kg
Ingredients for the bougatsa :
400-450g phyllo dough
200g butter, melted
120g all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping :
Make the filling : add in a large bowl the sugar, eggs and flour; whisk until the ingredients combine
Pour into a saucepan the milk and the vanilla extract and bring to the boil
Right before the milk comes to the boil, ladle 1/3 of the milk into the flour mixture and stir
Turn the heat down and add the flour mixture into the saucepan with the remaining warm milk
Whisk very quickly, until the mixture has thickened and is smooth and creamy (Do not remove the pan from the stove) This should take 2-3 minutes
Remove the pan from the stove and stir occasionally, to keep the custard from forming a skin on top, while you prepare the rest of the bougatsa recipe
For this bougatsa recipe you will need a large baking tray, approx. 20×30 cm
Using a pastry brush, butter the bottom and sides of the tray
To make this bougatsa recipe you will need 10-12 phyllo sheets
Use 5-6 sheets of phyllo for the bottom of the bougatsa and 4-5 sheets for the top
Begin by layering the sheets one by one on the bottom of the tray, making sure to sprinkle each one thoroughly with melted butter
Tip in the custard, smoothing the surface with a spatula and fold the phyllo sheet flaps over the custard.
Top the bougatsa with 4-5 phyllo sheets, sprinkling each sheet with melted butter
With a knife trim some of the excessive phyllo, if you like, and roll the rest on the edges
Brush the top with enough butter and scar the top of the bougatsa with a sharp knife
Bake the bougatsa in preheated oven at 160 for 45 minutes, until the phyllo is crisp and golden
Let the bougatsa cool down for a while before serving and sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon
Enjoy while still warm with a hot cup of coffee or tea !
Photography by Eranda Janku, unless otherwise stated