Bougatsa is the name of a hand made phyllo which is then made into pastries which can either be sweet or savory. It can be made with semolina cream, with feta cheese, with minced meat, with spinach, with potato etc. This is a speciality in the towns of Serres and Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece but it has become so popular that you will find “Μπουγατσοπωλεία” (pr. Bougatsopolia) all over Greece, selling only pastries made with this thin phyllo.
Bougatses are street food and are usually sold in small fast food shops or bakeries, selling all types of pastries such as tyropites (cheese pies), spanakopites (pl. for spanakopita, which is quite popular abroad and is a spinach pie), loukankopites (sausages pies), piroshkis, peinirli etc. In these shops you can only find the pastry with the sweet cream filling.
You can find out more about the history of Bougatsa and a recipe in my other blog.
I have made Bougatsa with homemade phyllo several times based on Shiamishi. Shiamishi (page 120 of my cookbook), and bougatsa have a few similarities as the phyllo is based on the same technique and the filling is also a semolina cream with a mastic flavour. Instead of being baked, shiamishi is deep fried. To make bougatsa I have used the semolina cream of galaktomboureko (page 127 of my Cookbook).
You can make bougatsa as one big pie or smaller individual ones.
After making Bougatsa many times with a wonderful result, I decided to make “Nistisimi Bougatsa” , making the cream with coconut milk and using olive oil and vegetable margarine.
Bougatsa Nistisimi, Recipe by Ivy
Shiamishi Pastry phyllo, made with olive oil
For the filling
1 cup semolina
¾ cup sugar
3 mastic resins, pounded with 1 tsp sugar (or use 1 tablespoon lemon zest)
250 ml coconut milk
2 cups water
2 tbsp blossom water (optional)
1 tablespoon margarine
Put the water, milk, together with sugar, mastic, vanilla and margarine and mix on low heat until lukewarm and the sugar dissolves. Add the semolina and start mixing with a balloon whisk until it sets. Mix in the margarine and blossom water until the cream thickens.
Empty the cream in a baking tin or large bowl so that the cream is not higher than 1 cm. Cover with cling film and set aside until the cream cools.
Roll out the dough, same way as for shiamishi. Cut a piece of cream and fold the phyllo. Place in a well oiled tin.
Preheat oven at 180ο C / 350o Fand bake for about 45 minutes or until golden.
Serve while still warm sprinkling lots of icing sugar and cinnamon on top.