Bougatsa with Semolina Pastry Cream

Bougatsa has its origins from the Byzantine period (before the fall of the city in 1453), when Constantinople was still Greek and was famous for its plakountes, which meant flat and when these were later taken by the Romansu00c2u00a0 were called placentae.u00c2u00a0 The word bougatsa is also connected with focaccia, as mentioned in Ottoman dictionaries but if you read about focaccia you will see that facaccia had its origins from the Ancient Greeks.u00c2u00a0 Bougatsa originally began as a dough which was stuffed with different fillings.u00c2u00a0u00c2u00a0 Bougatsa dough then evolved into a hand made phyllo which was rolled out up to a certain extent and then it was tossed in the air and becomes very thin.u00c2u00a0 It is then stretched further on the counter and is used to makeu00c2u00a0 pastries which are called bougatses and these canu00c2u00a0 be either sweet oru00c2u00a0 savory.u00c2u00a0u00c2u00a0 It can be made with a sweet semolina cream or the savory ones with feta cheese, with minced meat, with spinach, with potato etc.u00c2u00a0 u00c2u00a0u00c2u00a0 Bougatses started being produced in Greece when Greek refugees from Turkey came here and a lot of them settled in Northern Greece. u00c2u00a0u00c2u00a0 It became a speciality in the towns of Serres and Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece but because of their popularity,u00c2u00a0 you can now find them all over Greece in shops calledu00c2u00a0 «u00ceu009cu00cfu0080u00ceu00bfu00cfu0085u00ceu00b3u00ceu00b1u00cfu0084u00cfu0083u00ceu00bfu00cfu0080u00cfu0089u00ceu00bbu00ceu00b5u00ceu00afu00ceu00b1» (pr. Bougatsopolia) which sell only bougatses.

Bougatses are also sold in small fast food shops selling all types of pastries such as tyropites (cheese pies), spanakopites (pl. for spanakopita), loukankopites (sausages pies), piroshkis, peinirli etc.

Bougatsa with Feta

This version of bougatsa calls for store bought phyllo dough, similar to the one used for baklavas or galatomboureko.u00c2u00a0 Bougatsa has a filling similar to galaktomboureko and when baked, instead of adding syrup, it is sliced and served warm, sprinkled with icing s sugar and cinnamon.

Why we should write «phyllo» and not «filo» or «fillo»

You may be wondering why I have been writing the word «phyllo» in Greeku00c2u00a0 u00cfu0086u00cfu008du00ceu00bbu00ceu00bbu00ceu00bf, which means leaf or sheet, in this way.u00c2u00a0 This is the correct way it should be written because as a ruleu00c2u00a0 Greek words with the letter «u00cfu0086» (ef = f) when written in Latin or later in English, should be written with «ph» example pharmacy, phaenomenon, photography etc., also the letter «u00cfu0085» (ypsilon = y) called by the Romans » y Graecum» and by the French «y Greque», should be written with Y and not with an «i» example, hygiene, hypothesis, hymne, etc., the letter «h» in front of the «y»u00c2u00a0u00c2u00a0 which marked that it was accented with daseia, e.g. u00e1u00bdu0091u00ceu00bcu00ceu00bdu00e1u00bfu00b6 =u00c2u00a0 hymn ( a mark or symbol whichu00c2u00a0 have unfortunately been abolished when the Greek language was simplified in 1976 but it is a symbol similar to the French accent grave, to indicate the vocal quality to be given to a particular letter).

Bougatsa (Phyllo Pastry with sweet cream)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
500 grams phyllo (12 sheets)
100 grams vegetable fat or butter, melted (about 1/3 cup)

Pastry Cream:

5 cups milk
1 tablespoon mixed citrus with bergamot (but lemon zest can also be used )
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups fine semolina
4 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 vanilla

Cinnamon and icing sugar to sprinkle on top

Directions:
Beat the eggs in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the milk, together with sugar, citrus rind, vanilla and butter, until the butter melts.u00c2u00a0 Add the semolina and start mixing with a balloon whisk. u00c2u00a0u00c2u00a0Add the eggs gradually, mixing continuously, until incorporated and continue mixing until the cream thickens.u00c2u00a0 Cover the cream with cling film and set aside until the cream cools.

Preheat the oven at 180u00ceu00bf C / 350o F.

Melt the butter and brush a 28 cm round baking tin (a bigger one would be preferable) or a rectangular 33 x 23 cm Pyrex. u00c2u00a0u00c2u00a0Brush each phyllo with butter and place it in the baking tin. u00c2u00a0u00c2u00a0When half of the phyllos have been added, add the cream which should reach 1 1/2 – 2 cm high, the most.u00c2u00a0 Fold each phyllo that overlaps the pan over the custard, brushing it again with butter.u00c2u00a0 Add the remaining sheets on top, folding the excess phyllo and brushing it again with butter.u00c2u00a0 Trim the last sheet to the size of the baking tin and using a sharp knife score it without reaching the cream.u00c2u00a0 Spray the top lightly with water.

Bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Serve while still warm sprinkling lots of icing sugar and cinnamon on top.

Making bougatsa with homemade phyllo is not an easy job but although I do not have the skills to toss the phyllo in the air, I have managed to make it with a very good result.u00c2u00a0 The picture below is with homemade bougatsa phyllo but if you want to see more details you can see them in my other blog Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!, which will be my new blog to showcase Cypriot recipes and recipes included in the cookbook, made with a twist.

I am linking this recipe to Ancutza, of Matrioska’s Adventure, for her event Ricette con la pasta fillo.


Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!

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12 u00cfu0083u00cfu0087u00cfu008cu00ceu00bbu00ceu00b9u00ceu00b1 on Bougatsa (Phyllo Pastry with sweet cream) and Nistisimi Bougatsa (vegan)

  1. u00ceu009f/u00ceu0097 lucy u00ceu00bbu00ceu00adu00ceu00b5u00ceu00b9:

    j love greek and the food is very lovely.good photos very explicatives.

  2. u00ceu009f/u00ceu0097 Dimitris u00ceu00bbu00ceu00adu00ceu00b5u00ceu00b9:

    Hello Ivy,
    I enjoyed reading your mpougatsa recipe. I have tried making mpougatsa a number of times, but it does not come close to what I get when I go back to Thessaloniki. Certainly the phyllo is one thing, though I found out that puff pastry is a good substitute. The cream filling is the issue. I have tried the filling as you outline it with semolina and eggs and it is «heavy». Personally I do not think the mpougatsa made in Makedonia is made with eggs, primarily because the cream filling is white. I have tried making the cream with rice flour, but the texture is not right. As you understand I need help, since there is no mpougatsatsidiko around the corner, here in Northern Virginia. Do you know of any other cream fillings that may come closer to the «original»?
    Thank you!
    Dimitris

  3. u00ceu009f/u00ceu0097 George Theodoridis u00ceu00bbu00ceu00adu00ceu00b5u00ceu00b9:

    Ivy, a fantastic lot of recipes on bougatsa and, of course, a most enlightening explanation of its history. This isn wonderful stuff which gives the reader a better, a more profound understanding of where the recipe comes from and where, in the large scheme of gastronomy, sits their own kitchen.

    However, the linguistic pedant in me is totally ill-disciplined and it urges me most forcefully to make a little observation on the use of the breathing marks (u00cfu0080u00ceu00bdu00ceu00b5u00cfu008du00ceu00bcu00ceu00b1u00cfu0084u00ceu00b1) daseia u00ceu00b4u00ceu00b1u00cfu0083u00ceu00b5u00ceu00afu00ceu00b1 and u00cfu0088u00ceu00b9u00ceu00bbu00ceu00ae. In English daseia is called «rough breathing mark» and its opposite, psili u00cfu0088u00ceu00b9u00ceu00bbu00ceu00ae, is called «smooth breathing mark.»

    Their use and effect upon the pronunciation of words (daseia u00e1u00bfu00be only those beginning with vowels but psiliu00e1u00beu00bdalso above an u00cfu0081 at the beginning and when it is reduplicated elsewhere in the word) has been vigorously disputed, especially back in the 1930 most notably with people like Andreas Kalvos who gave lectures to the Brits on ancient Greek pronunciation.

    Incidentally, the daseia must have been pronounced similarly to the English/Latin letter H, h, since that is how the Romans transliterated it whenever they wanted to write a Greek name or word in Latin. We see it today in Helios u00e1u00bcu00a1u00ceu00bbu00ceu00b9u00ceu00bfu00cfu0082 and History, u00e1u00bcu00b1u00cfu0083u00cfu0084u00ceu00bfu00cfu0081u00ceu00afu00ceu00b1. These days it has become silent.

    These breathing marks and accents (of which there are three) have been abandoned by the Andreas Papandreou administration, back in 1982, and, to my mind, it was quite a progressive and brave thing to do. It use to consume many hours of unnecessary classroom time and strained the patience of the student -who had to also learn about long and short letters and syllables, which also took many hours of learning, hours which took away from the learning of other subjects.
    It also played havoc with printers of newspapers and books who had to have a hell of a lot more characters in their boxes to deal with, which consumed an enormous amount of time. Imagine every vowel, each without a breathing mark, then each with a daseia and then again, each with a psili! A hugve number of unnecessary letters to deal with!

    None of these little markings, of course -was it Kazantzakis who called them koutsoulies? (bird droppings)- affected the modern pronunciation of the words and are only useful for pedants like me or for people who are studying the ancient Greek language. They are of no consequence at all to the modern writer or reader.

    Please forgive me if I navigated too far from the point of this page, which excels in its purpose of delivering a lovely recipe for one of my favourite sweets!
    George Theodoridis recently posted..Welcome travellerMy Profile

    • u00ceu009f/u00ceu0097 Ivy
      Twitter:
      u00ceu00bbu00ceu00adu00ceu00b5u00ceu00b9:

      Geoge, thank you so much for your detailed explanations, which adds to my post. I never knew what daseia and psili were called in English. I think the breathing marks and accents were abolished before Papandreou, by Rallis. I know it was difficult to learn the language with all its rules but it was a lovely language which shouldn’t have to disappear. At least they could teach it as a special subject to those interested to learn it. Unfortunately the result today is uneducated graduates!!
      Ivy recently posted..How do you make Lasagne? My Profile

      • u00ceu009f/u00ceu0097 George Theodoridis u00ceu00bbu00ceu00adu00ceu00b5u00ceu00b9:

        Glad you liked my contribution, Ivy. I never quite know when I’m overindulging my own whims!

        Apropos the accents, Rallis, coming straight after the junta, which had insisted on changing the education system of Greece completely so as to bring back the language of the ancients, Rallis, simply restored the Demotic language and reformed the education system generally so as to modernise it and to rid it of the juntaesque language and ideologies. No one but the churches and their authors spoke or wrote in kathareuousa (or the biblical Koini- u00ceu00bau00ceu00bfu00ceu00b9u00ceu00bdu00ceu00ae as it was called) any more, and schools now began to ask students to pay more attention to the content, rather than the inordinate profusion and burden of grammar.

        Still, the use of accents remained pretty much intact, I believe, until 1982, when, after raging debates, they were finally discarded by the Papandreou govn’t. I can’t scan my own books so I’ve just done a search on google.

        Here’s what Wikipedia says on the monotonic system:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_diacritics

        Official adoption of monotonic system
        «Following the official adoption of the Demotic form of the language, the monotonic orthography was imposed by law in 1982. The latter uses only the acute accent (or sometimes a vertical bar intentionally distinct from any of the traditional accents) and diaeresis and omits the breathings. This simplification has been criticised on the grounds that polytonic orthography provides a cultural link to the past.»

        I had already emigrated to Australia, by then so I can’t talk from personal experience of what went on in Greece. I had visited briefly in ’76 and it was still polytonic, complete with breathing marks.
        Kazantzakis, of course had already done the transformation, which coincided with his American contemporary poet, Ezra Pound who advocated similar simplifications to the English language… but that’s an entirely different story.

        I agree with you, the ancient Greek language is a brilliant tool of expression and you know that I’ve spent most of my life studying it with the deepest love but, in all honesty, Ivy, no language can survive the evolution of human intelligence and invention.
        It would be hopeless to try and include the whole, infinite world of new thought that has occurred since those days and the modern Greek is also a spectacular language. Plastic and resilient enough to be able to describe things in all sorts of degrees: trapezi, trapezaki, trapezara; agapi mou, agapoula mou; heri, heraki, heroukla, kosmos, kosmakis, etc. Very few languages can give a speaker or a writer such leeway. I love it!
        George Theodoridis recently posted..Welcome travellerMy Profile

  4. u00ceu009f/u00ceu0097 george theodoridis u00ceu00bbu00ceu00adu00ceu00b5u00ceu00b9:

    Ivy, Nikos Sarantakos has written a most thorough and detailed article on the adoption of the monotonic system here:
    http://www.sarantakos.com/language/mon76-81.html

    No Government wanted to introduce it, fearing a backlash from the conservative forces, until the pressure mounted by a number of newspapers and the University of Thessaloniki and it finally relented in ’82.
    george theodoridis recently posted..Welcome travellerMy Profile

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