Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

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Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

Greece's late night food looks almost too damn pretty to give it a tag of "late night food" (click here for an example of a late night monstrosity I had in Finland called the Kannibal). No greasy kebab or pie, it's a delicious custard filled filo pasty parcel. I first heard about this from a Greek friend and my interest intensified when I started talking to David Tsirekas from Perama restaurant, a restaurant that I visited only the other night. He'd twitter tempting things such as "making mandarin bougatsa" and I'd be urged to bump this to the top of my "to make" list, a messy scrawled piece of paper that I've clipped to my teapot wall calendar. I knew of course that I wasn't going to make the filo from scratch and my version wouldn't be as amazing as his but I persevered.

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

These were very, very good. I wouldn't be so presumptuous to say that they were as good as the ones at Perama but if you want to make your own version at home, say late at night when the clock strikes midnight, these will certainly do. I loved the crunchiness of the buttery, light filo and the softness of the oozing vanilla and lemon custard.

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

And yep you guessed it. It's Wallpaper Wednesday! How about some Bannoffee Peanut Butter cups?  I'm sure we've all made a quick version of this late at night with a spoon, some chocolate and a jar of peanut butter!

So tell me Dear Reader, what is your favourite late night food either at home or when you are out? A kebab? A pie? A friend used to get the urge to make wedges at midnight. What's yours?

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

Makes 10

  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind (or citrus rind of choice)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup superfine semolina
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 20 sheets filo pastry
  • 150g unsalted butter, melted and browned*
  • 1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Sifted icing sugar to dust

Method

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

Custard on stove

Step 1 - Combine milk and rind in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in semolina until thickened. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale and then add to the saucepan and stir until it becomes a custard and cool completely.

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

Chilled custard

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

Folding step 1

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

Folding step 2

Step 2 - Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper. Place 1 pastry sheet on a work surface. Brush with melted butter. Place another sheet directly on top of this and butter this too. Fold in half crossways to form a rectangle. Spoon 1.5 tablespoons of custard onto centre of the pastry. Brush the edges with butter. Fold long edges over to cover custard. Fold in sides to form a rectangle. Place, seam side down, on baking paper lined tray. Brush top with butter. Sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar.

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

Folding Step 3

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries

Finished Bougatsa

Step 4 - Repeat with remaining pastry, butter, custard and sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with sifted icing sugar. These are best served warm, on the day they are made.

*To brown butter, melt and heat it until a nutty aroma is released (be careful not to overbrown or it will become bitter). Skim off the foam from the top and cool.

Bougatsa - Custard Filled Filo Pastries