Bougatsa is a Greek word and the recipe for creating it has been around for centuries.
However, because there are so many variations in the creation of this wonderful dessert, it seems like each location has its own Bougatsa recipe.
There are endless pastry shops in Greece in fact, they are more frequent than banks.
Consumers have the opportunity to purchase to baklava, halva, spinach pies, cheese pies, bougatsa, etc., etc., everywhere.
It is advisable that when in Greece to avoid even looking at the pastry shops.
Moreover, do not dare enter them if you are on a diet, the results could be a disaster you can gain 10 lbs. in 10 days.
Nevertheless, what is bougatsa?
What makes it different from the other pastries?
I will provide you with the recipe, but first you must read this story,
Let us start from the beginning.
When I was a very young kid, having begun working at age 9 or 10, I always had the desire and the appetite, especially when I had spare change, to go to these peddlers (street vendors) in downtown Athens, to purchase one of these pastries.
However, bougasta was one of my favourites.
Therefore, over the years, I tried every kind of Bougatsa of all different tastes.
I believe I have tried over 1450 different Bougatsas!
Of course, with numbers such as this, I am connoisseur of Bougasta. An expert in its taste.
I continue with the story.
Finally, I left Athens and established myself in Canada and since there were not too many Greek pastry shops around, I had almost forgotten the word, bougatsa, until one day 15 years later, I decided to go to Greece for a visit for a few days.
One day I was standing in front of the palace, admiring the precision timing in the changing of the guards.
At that time, I was accompanied by Panos, my son and my nephew Andonis.
At one point, someone tapped me gently on my shoulders from behind.
Upon turning around, I recognized that the man in question was,
Mike Sinanis, an old friend from Kalamaki, my hometown.
Catching up on old times, I was advised by my friend that he had immigrated to Johannesburg, South Africa.
He further advised that he had married a woman from Cyprus and she was gifted with the ability to create bougatsa.
Light bulbs began to flash in my head.
At the same time, he informed me that he and his wife were planning to leave South Africa and immigrate to Canada.
Upon their arrival in Canada, once settled, his wife Despina became established as an active member of the Society of Cyprus.
The society holds a function once a year and requires a donation of food products from Goudas Foods to create their dishes.
She always came to the Goudas Foods offices to receive the products.
Of course, she never came empty handed.
She always came with a tray of Bougatsa.
In addition, since I was always very busy throughout the day. I opened the
refrigerator to have a piece of that Bougatsa.
Upon opening the refrigerator, the tray was always there covered with foil, but there was not a single piece left.
No matter how many times I enquired who ate the Bougatsa, each person stated all he/she had was one piece.
It seemed like nobody knew what happened to the Bougatsa.
I told my secretary that the next time a tray of Bougatsa arrived that she was to post a sign stating that this product contained ingredients hazardous to your health, or may contain poison.
Nevertheless, despite the warnings the tray was always empty.
This time, I made it a point to know the exact time Despina was arriving to ensure that I escorted her and the tray into the office.
In this way, it would ensure that I could set a few pieces aside to take home.
At 3:00 a.m., I awoke with Bougatsa on my mind, and similar to a man walking in his sleep with hands outstretched, I arrived at the refrigerator door confident that bougatsa was inside.
I took a piece and on the way back to the bedroom, I overheard the echo of my doctor's voice whispering in my head not to eat bougatsa at 3:00 a.m.
Nevertheless, I ignored this advice and comfortably sat down and upon having my first bite, I heard bells ringing, a choir of angels singing, and with my eyes closed I saw a clear view of paradise.
Only to be disturbed by Koukla (my dog) scratching my feet demanding a piece too.
The conclusion of the story is that between me and Koukla, we made quite a few visits to the
refrigerator that night.
In addition, I was disappointed that on the final trip to the refrigerator there was none left.
Tears came to my eyes.
Maybe by now, while reading this you have discovered that you have a craving for Bougatsa.
You may go to any Greek pastry shop and purchase one, or follow the recipe of Mrs. Despina,
which is outlined below.
Of course, this is another Mr. Goudas story because Bougatsa contains Mr. Goudas Semolina for pastries, Mr. Goudas Sugar, Mr. Goudas Vanilla, Mr. Goudas Cinnamon,
1 pkg Fillo (Krinos brand)
3/4 cup unsalted butter,
1/4 cup powdered or icing sugar, Cinnamon
6 cups of milk 2%
1 cup semolina for pastry
1 cup of sugar
2 envelopes of vanilla powder
or 2 tbsp liquid, 1 tbsp lemon juice,
1/4 cup unsalted butter,
2 slices of lemon rind (skin)
Place milk in large pot on medium heat.
Add semolina, butter and stir with wooden spoon until of a custard consistency.
Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and blend well.
Pour mixture into the semolina and milk batter.
Stir continuously, bring to a boil.
Once cream is ready, remove from heat.
Allow to cool.
Spread Fillo sheets and cut in half.
Lightly grease the bottom of a large cooking tray.
You have two options:
1. Make small individual pieces by filling the Fillo with the filling and position each piece within the tray.
Spread melted butter over Fillo in each piece and in between them at the sides.
On the other hand:
2. Place enough Fillo to cover bottom and overlap the sides of the tray.
Pour the cream filling over the Fillo.
Cover with a 3 or 4 layers of Fillo.
Spread melted butter over Fillo.
Place your creation in the oven at 350 degrees F until golden in colour.
When finally done, remove from oven and evenly spread icing sugar over the top.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bougatsa may be eaten hot, or out of the refrigerator.
This recipe was created with the
assistance of Mrs. Despina Sinanis.
I recently ( in 2010) discovered that there is a restaurant in Toronto called Avli located at 401 Danforth Avenue which serves a Bougatsa with fruit filling that is simply delicious.
Stop by and indulge yourself.
Spyros Peter Goudas
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