Rich creamy custard along with the crunchy phyllo and dash of baking spice, make the perfect blend to create a Traditional Greek dessert, named Bogatsa or Custard pie. What could be better than a classic dessert paired with coffee on a cold winter night? Although many people prefer Traditional Greek Baklava for its syrupy texture, or its somewhat similar alternative Galaktoboureko, Bougatsa is also one of the favorite Greek desserts originating from Greek and Turkish cuisines.
Bougatsa originated from Constantinople and Byzantium when these areas were still in Greece. The pastry sweets prepared in syrup were popular. Later when these areas became a part of the Ottoman Empire, the sweets became a legacy of classic Turkish cuisine. The same recipe is also prepared in savory versions, with minced beef, spinach, and cheese. Be it sweet or savory, you can serve it both as breakfast and side dish. If you want some other greek recipes, you can try these Melomakarona, Loukoumades. The best part is that you can serve it as the best breakfast potluck for the next party.
Ingredient Notes For Making Bougatsa
Phyllo sheets are thin pastry sheets made up of flour, oil, and butter. These may be thick or thin depending on the recipe you want to make. For the Bougatsa, we require thin, fine phyllo sheets. Of course, you can prepare them at home too, but when the store-bought sheets are easily available, I prefer to use them because it makes the recipe so easy. Handle them carefully and use a damp kitchen towel to place them after separating so that they do not break.
Be it Baklava or Loukoumades, I have always used whole milk in Greek dessert recipes. Whole milk gives a thick texture and creamy flavor to desserts. But if you want to cut down on calories or want to cut the lactose content, opt for skim milk or almond milk. However, almond or coconut milk might produce a nutty taste of the custard.
Though I have used vanilla essence for my recipe, I would suggest the readers go for Vanilla bean whenever possible. It gives the richest taste in the smallest quantities, making the recipe more authentic.
Whole eggs as well as egg yolks both give the airy and spongy texture to the baked custard. Be sure to use eggs at room temperature so that they get balanced with the flour’s texture.
- 400 g milk
- 400 g heavy cream
- 270 g sugar
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 150 g butter
- 10 to 12 Phyllo sheets
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp. icing sugar
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon powder
How to make Greek Bougatsa?
Step 1. Setting the phyllo layer
The thin phyllo sheets are difficult to work with because they are dry, fragile, and delicate. I always advise laying a slightly damp kitchen towel on a plate. Place the separated phyllo sheet over it while buttering so that it becomes easy to handle.
For this recipe, we require precisely 7 phyllo sheets. First of all, set a 30 x 35 cm baking pan. Grease it a bit and sprinkle a bit of flour on its base.
Melt butter. Place the first phyllo sheet, and generously butter it with the help of a pastry brush. Repeat with the 2nd phyllo sheet as well.
On the 3rd sheet, do not spread the butter with a brush. Simply drizzle from the top and fold the phyllo like an accordion. Set on the top of the former phyllo sheet layer. Follow the video for a better understanding.
Repeat the process with the remaining sheets. When all the phyllo sheets are used, place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sheet becomes crispy and light brown.
Step 2. Making the custard
While you bake the phyllo layer, prepare the custard mixture. Take a medium-sized mixing bowl, and crack 4 whole eggs in it. Whisk well with a hand whisk. Add 2 egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until the sugar dissolves in the eggs.
Add milk, baking powder, vanilla essence, heavy cream, and salt. Whisk well until the mixture becomes airy and forth.
Remove the baking pan from the oven. Let the phyllo rest for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the oven’s temperature to 350 F.
Pour the custard mixture on top of the baked phyllo sheets. Spread the soft brown sugar on top of the custard layer. This will give a crunchy brown texture to the baked Bougatsa.
Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Check if the custard has thickened. If not, bake for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place it at room temperature. Cool it down for a while but not much because Bougatsa tastes best when served warm.
Turn it upside down on a serving platter, making the baked phyllo layer come on top. Sprinkle some powdered cinnamon and icing sugar for both taste and presentation.
Cut it into squares or diamond-shaped pieces before serving.
How to store Greek Bougatsa?
If you have some leftover Bougatsa, you should place it in the refrigerator because the milk and egg content might make it go rancid at room temperature. Place any leftover slices in a plastic container with a lid and then place it in the refrigerator.
Bougatsa is at its best flavor and texture when eaten warm, so if you have refrigerated it, you must reheat it before serving. To reheat, place the slices of bougatsa on a lined baking pan and heat in an oven at 350F. Serve when you think it is warm enough.
Can I Make Bougatsa Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can make Bougatsa ahead of time because you can serve it warm or cold; this quality makes it suitable to make ahead of time. However, it is important to remember that when you serve Bougatsa cold, its dough layer may not remain crispy.
If you keep some important things in mind while making it ahead of time, you may get the desired results.
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container before freezing and let it thaw overnight before using it.
- You can prepare the filling of Bougatsa and refrigerate it. You can make custard filling and let it chill before filling it in the phyllo dough.
- If you want to make bougatsa ahead, you can assemble its layers in advance. Cover it tightly to lock its freshness, and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake. It will help you save time for preparation when you plan to serve.
Although you can make Bougatsa to save time, assembling the layers before baking is recommended to achieve crispier and full-of-texture results.
Can I Freeze Greek Bougatsa?
You can freeze Greek Bougatsa to eat later or leave the dish in the refrigerator for a week. However, cooling the filling completely before freezing is essential, as it will prevent the sogginess.
To freeze Bougatsa, wrap it tightly or place it in an airtight container to lock its freshness. It will also help you to prevent the phyllo dough from becoming dry. Ensure that it is frozen flat to maintain the shape of the dish until it turns solid. Once it freezes, you can transfer it to a space-efficient storage position.
Remember that if you freeze Bougatsa, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator before reheating. When it thaws slowly, its shape will remain maintained and keep its texture safe. However, consuming the frozen Bougatsa in a few weeks is good for enjoying its texture and taste.
How to Reheat Bougatsa
Bougatsa consists of layers of phyllo dough and usually sweet custard filling. It also contains a lot of butter, making it a tricky dish to reheat. Remember, Bougatsa tastes best if served warm. Although you can keep it cool, the layers of phyllo dough may not remain crispy when cold.
To reheat Bougatsa, place the slices of Bougatsa on a parchment paper or baking sheet and set the oven to 350°F. Put the dish in the oven and heat it until Bougatsa turns golden and crispy.
Other Breakfast Recipes You can try:
- Rice Breakfast Recipes
- Air Fryer Breakfast Egg Bites
- Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Breakfast Recipes
- Birthday Breakfast Ideas
- Sweet Breakfast Biscuit Ideas
- Low FODMAP Breakfasts
- Breakfast Catering Ideas
Frequently Asked Questions
Bougatsa is a traditional Greek dessert made out of an egg and milk mixture and crispy phyllo sheets. In some recipes, semolina is also added to the custard mixture. Since it has a thick custard of milk and eggs, it is best served warm or hot. Although in some parts of Greece, Bougatsa is also eaten cold. Add a dash of cinnamon just before serving to make it warmer.
Bougatsa closely resembles a custard pie, but it also has a crisp layer of phyllo. The crisp layer remains fresh for the first day it is baked. After that, if you refrigerate, it might become soggy and the custard may become watery. It is best to eat the Bougatsa the same day it is baked. However, if you have stored it in the refrigerator, you can reheat it in an oven at 350 F before serving, but the texture might not be the same.
Bougatsa and Galaktoboureko are both Traditional Greek desserts. Bougatsa has a raw custard mixture on top of a crispy Phyllo layer before baking. When baked, it is served upside down and sprinkled with cinnamon powder and powdered sugar. Galaktoboureko is the cooked custard filled in between the phyllo sheets before baking. After baking, cold sugar syrup is poured over it, making it dripping in sweet syrup.
Greek Bougatsa – Greek Breakfast Pastry
- 400 ml milk
- 400 g heavy cream
- 270 g sugar
- 4 Whole eggs
- 2 Egg yolks
- 150 g Butter
- 12 Phyllo sheets
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
How to Make?
- Preheat the oven to 390 °F.
- Melt the butter over medium-low heat.
- Take a 30 x 35 cm baking pan and grease it well with butter using a pastry brush.
- Grease two phyllo sheets generously with butter and a pastry brush. Place one in the baking pan and the second on its top very carefully.
- Drizzle butter on the other phyllo sheets. Fold and wrap them like an accordion and place it in the pan until the space is filled.
- Drizzle any remaining butter on top of the phyllo.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the phyllo becomes crunchy and light brown.
- Meanwhile, crack 4 eggs in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add egg yolks and sugar and whisk well until the sugar dissolves.
- Add baking powder, milk, vanilla essence, heavy cream, and salt. Mix well again.
- Remove the phyllosheets from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 °F
- Pour the egg mixture over the top of the baked phyllo sheets. Spread the soft brown sugar on the top to give the custard a nice sweet crunch.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until custard thickens.
- Remove from the oven and allow time to cool.
- Turn it upside down to make the phyllo crust come on top. Sprinkle it with powdered cinnamon and icing sugar.
- Cut in squares before serving. Serve cool