Bougatsa with Quince

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Before I get on with showing you the dessert offering of Bougatsa for my Greek Thanksgiving, I should give you some background on this much-loved Greek breakfast treat.

Bougatsa is a pastry that consists of phyllo and it can contain a filling of cheese, spinach, spinach & cheese, ground meat or in this case, custard.

You can find Bougatsa all over Greece but Thessaloniki (second largest city in Greece) is the reputed Bougatsa capital of Greece.

There’s the Bougatsa made in Crete and it’s usually made with the use of Mizithra and you’ll find shops offering up Bougatsa across Greece.

I first had Bougatsa as a child when my uncle, “Theo Mitso” brought me a small bag with an aromatic parcel and a chocolate milk for me.

My breakfasts in Greece were never the same after one first taste of Bougatsa.

When one goes to buy Bougatsa in Thessaloniki, finding a shop that sells them is real easy: look for the rush of people coming & coming in & out of the shop and usually one can smell the combo of baked pastry, Greek coffee and cinnamon in the air.

Bougatsa shops do most of their business in the mornings as that’s when most of their Bougatsa is sold. There are two camps of Bougatsa fans: the savory lover and like myself, the sweet lover.

Know your order when in the shop. Simply ordering a “Bougatsa” will assure you of a question from the person behind the counter:

“You want Bougatsa with cheese, spinach, spinach & cheese, meat or cream”?

I always order “Bougatsa me krema”!

Upon hearing your order, the person will weigh your portion, place in some paper wrap and cut it into bite-sized squares. The Bougatsa is finished off with a generous shake of cinnamon and icing sugar.

Most take it “se paketo” or to-go but since I’m on holidays, I like to take a seat, enjoy my order of Bougatsa and people watch. The usual drink with Bougatsa is chocolate milk, frappe (ice coffee) or a Greek coffee.

That, my friends, is the inspiration to my dessert offering of Bougatsa for my Greek Thanksgiving dinner. I decided to make individual serving of Bougatsa and include some seasonal Greek ingredients in it…quince and almonds.

If you know your way around phyllo, this dessert is a cinch and it can be pre-made and frozen. For those not familiar with phyllo, buy it from a store that sells alot it…ensuring you get a fresh package that will allow you to work easily with it and save you from those phyllo nightmares.


Bougatsa With Quince and Almonds

(makes 12)

2-3 quince, peeled, cored and sliced 2/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

2 whole cloves
3 cups of water

2 sticks of melted unsalted butter
3/4 cup fine semolina

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. orange zest

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups of whole milk
3/4 cup apple juice

24 sheets of phyllo dough
icing sugar
ground cinnamon

Pre-heated 350F oven

  1. In a medium-sized pot, add your water, sugar cinnamon stick and cloves and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the quinces. cover and simmer for 3o-40 minutes or until the slices are fork tender. Strain the quince, allow to cool and discard poaching liquid.
  2. In a deep pot over medium heat, heat 2 Tbsp. of butter and then add the semolina, sugar, zest, and the vanilla extract. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes until the butter’s absorbed and the semolina is golden but not browned.
  3. While whisking, add the milk and apple juice in a steady stream until all the liquid is absorbed. Cook while stirring for 3-4 minutes, until the custard has the texture of loose cream of wheat. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  4. Lay out your phyllo beside your work surface and cover it with a damp towel. Take a phyllo sheet and place it on your work surface. Drizzle the phyllo sheet with melted butter and now place another sheet on top and again, drizzle with melted butter.
  5. Place a couple of heaping tablespoons of custard in the middle top third of your buttered phyllo sheets, about 2 inches from the top edge. Place some quince slices on top and press to flatten the custard a bit.
  6. Fold over the top flap, then fold over the sides flaps. Now fold the phyllo package downwards towards you. Lightly brush both sides of the pie with melted butter and place on a baking sheet. Place some sliced almonds on the top middle of each pie. Repeat with remaining phyllo, custard and quince until you’ve made 12 pies.
  7. If making ahead of time, cover the baking tray with a large bag (garbage bag) and place in the oven until you’re going to bake the Bougatsa. You may bake from frozen into a pre-heated 350F oven and bake for approx 30 minutes or until golden OR
    if baking immediately, place in a pre-heated 350F oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
  8. Allow to cool a bit, plate and sprinkle a generous amount to icing sugar and ground cinnamon on top. Serve with a Greek coffee.

© 2008 – 2017,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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79 Comments for “Bougatsa with Quince”

FoodJunkie

says:

Peter, what a lovely recipe! I looove bougatsa. There is a new bougatsopoleion in Psyrri and you can see it made in front of you. You should go next time you visit, it is great fun!

Judy@nofearentertaining

says:

I would order “Bougatsa me krema” as well. Although it sounds really good with quince and almonds. Beautiful dessert!

Elra

says:

Sounds very delicious, Peter. I really like any dessert that using philo pastry. I must try to make “Bougatsa” one day.

FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels

says:

You make a good case for the cream variety. It looks delicious. And I loved your reference to frappe which makes me recall all the cafes where I sat and had an iced frappe. What’s with the upside down cup…reading the future??

Bellini Valli

says:

Wow Peter…how did I miss this when I was there. I would go for the Bougatsa me krema as well. I will definitely be giving this a try so thank you for bringing it to my attention:D

We Are Never Full

says:

holy crap that looks good. the thought of phyllo WITH custard is ridiculous. i am sooo thinking of other ideas to add inside.

NikiTheo

says:

I have to say, “bougatsa me krema” is mine and my father’s favorite Greek pastry. There is a restaurant in Chicago that has it on special on Sundays, but I am hard pressed to find good bougatsa around here otherwise.
It’s so good to know someone else shares my affection for bougatsa!!!

Lori Lynn

says:

Looks great Peter although I’m what you call a “savory lover.” Hope I don’t have phyllo nightmares after reading this tonight. I’ll let you know if I do. haha

Peter G

says:

Bougatsa is a favourite of mine too…especially with “krema”. The addition of almonds and quince is quite clever Peter…beautifully presented.

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI

says:

fantastic stuff, bougatsa is a favorite right round greece. when you come to hania, you will also try bougatsa iordanis, a completely different bougatsa to the one you made – it was even served at the olympic village during the 2004 games!

Ivy

says:

My all favourite is bougatsa me krema and cinnamon but I must say when I tried the savory cheese bougatsa in Serres it was perfect.
BTW, why would you discard the poaching liquid? Next time boil it until it becomes into a syrup and use it on sponge cakes :)

Laurie Constantino

says:

mmm-mmm-mmm! I do love bougatsa – it’s probably my favorite sweet, with galactoboureko a clost second. Yours turned out beautifully, and what a great idea adding quince is!

joanne at frutto della passione

says:

Looks spectacular Peter, how I wish I could have been there for your Thanksgiving meal!

Maryann

says:

My kind of breakfast! Very similar to Italian type breakfasts haha
The more recipes I see you making, the more I see how much of our foods are intertwined.

Peter M

says:

Ioanna, that’s a great idea the shop has there. The display obviously attracts lots of customers.

Val, you didn’t try Bougatsa in Greece? It’s a must next time or when in TO, I can tell ya where to try some.

Ahhh Kiwi…I will eat so well in Kriti.

Ivy, good point…I should have thought of a use…it was a tasty syrup.

Maryann, the foods of all the Mediterranean cause some overlap in dishes…love them all.

Susan from Food Blogga

says:

You know, I wish I could have a “how to use phyllo dough” session with you, Peter. Really, I do. :)

Jeanne

says:

Food p0rn of note!! These sound delicious and I would be hard pressed deciding between the sweet and the savoury. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the Grecian memories!

Grace

says:

oh my. and here i thought baklava was the ultimate treat. silly me. it’d be glorious enough without a hearty dusting of cinnamon, but that makes it extra special to me. :)

Lo

says:

Oh, Peter. You’ve now posted one of my absolute favorite Greek treats.

Fantastic photos (and I thought the Thanksgiving ones were tempting!)

Δημιουργία

says:

I already love bougatsa, but the quince version sounds delicious. I love the upside-down cup. As we say in Greece: “Ola ta lefta!”.

Sandie

says:

No doubt about it, this is a must make. I wonder if any inns here in the US serve this for breakfast?

Proud Italian Cook

says:

I’m with Susan from Food Blogga, I do terrible things with phyllo!! I never know how many sheets to use. I’m defininitly phyllo challenged.
I need a lesson from the kind you buy in a box.

aforkfulofspaghetti

says:

Peter, I think I love you.

And, by happy coincidence, I have some quinces in the house…

Núria

says:

What a lovely dessert Peter! Almonds and that cream inside could drive me nuts after the second bite…. Que rico!!!! Mmmm a delish :D :D

CECIL

says:

I am usually not into sweets much, but I have such a soft spot on phyllo sweet dishes. I have never had bougatsa before, but I think I am in love with it already.

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I feel like a broken record on your site: once again, a dish I’d never known of that I absolutely need to eat right now. It looks delicious and this sounds like a great place for quince!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I feel like a broken record on your site: once again, a dish I’d never known of that I absolutely need to eat right now. It looks delicious and this sounds like a great place for quince!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I feel like a broken record on your site: once again, a dish I’d never known of that I absolutely need to eat right now. It looks delicious and this sounds like a great place for quince!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I feel like a broken record on your site: once again, a dish I’d never known of that I absolutely need to eat right now. It looks delicious and this sounds like a great place for quince!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I feel like a broken record on your site: once again, a dish I’d never known of that I absolutely need to eat right now. It looks delicious and this sounds like a great place for quince!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I feel like a broken record on your site: once again, a dish I’d never known of that I absolutely need to eat right now. It looks delicious and this sounds like a great place for quince!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I feel like a broken record on your site: once again, a dish I’d never known of that I absolutely need to eat right now. It looks delicious and this sounds like a great place for quince!

Mike of Mike's Table

says:

I feel like a broken record on your site: once again, a dish I’d never known of that I absolutely need to eat right now. It looks delicious and this sounds like a great place for quince!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js

says:

Oh my goodness, that is one package that’s just bursting with goodness. I can just feel my pleasure centers lighting up!

Nicole

says:

I think in this case I would prefer the sweet to the savory as well. This looks delish! So… what did the cup look like when you turned it back over?

Elly

says:

This looks SO good Peter. I am totally drooling. I haven’t had a chance to visit blogs for a few days and now that I’m here, I’m hungry. :P

alexandra's kitchen

says:

I cannot wait to make this. I am going to treat my family when i am home for Thanksgiving to a breakfast of sweet bougatsa. This is bringing back so many wonderful memories.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

I cannot wait to make this. I am going to treat my family when i am home for Thanksgiving to a breakfast of sweet bougatsa. This is bringing back so many wonderful memories.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

I cannot wait to make this. I am going to treat my family when i am home for Thanksgiving to a breakfast of sweet bougatsa. This is bringing back so many wonderful memories.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

I cannot wait to make this. I am going to treat my family when i am home for Thanksgiving to a breakfast of sweet bougatsa. This is bringing back so many wonderful memories.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

I cannot wait to make this. I am going to treat my family when i am home for Thanksgiving to a breakfast of sweet bougatsa. This is bringing back so many wonderful memories.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

I cannot wait to make this. I am going to treat my family when i am home for Thanksgiving to a breakfast of sweet bougatsa. This is bringing back so many wonderful memories.

alexandra's kitchen

says:

I cannot wait to make this. I am going to treat my family when i am home for Thanksgiving to a breakfast of sweet bougatsa. This is bringing back so many wonderful memories.

Peter M

says:

Susan, buy phyllo from a store that has a high turnover = fresh. Allow to defrost overnight and then about 15 minutes out of the fridge to come to room temp. The rest is quite simple really.

Jeanne, both are great but here I side on the sweet side.

Dimourgia…thanks and welcome…”ola ta lefta’!

Kristen

says:

I came across your blog while looking for a recipe for bougatsa after watching No Reservations. He had the cheese filled one on the show, and we are dying for it! Anyone know where to get a recipe for it? This looks good, too–we will be trying it! Glad to find your blog!

Peter M

says:

Kristen, loved Tony’s visit to Greece too!

You are correct, there are cheese Bougatsas too but the most popular one is the custard filled ones.

The cheese Bougastsa is basically a tyropita (cheese pie) enveloped in phyllo pastry.

If interested, email me and I can steer you in the right direction.

Chris

says:

Excellent recipe Peter! My daughter and I made it yesterday (but sans the quince that I couldn’t find anywhere). Even though it was the first time we were working with phyllo dough, the taste was great (the look needs improving with practice). Anyway you can post a couple of pictures for folks like us on the folding the phyllo steps? It would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you once again for the great recipe.

says:

[…] Quince have this soft, perfume-like aroma and my Italian neighbor mentioned that they used to place quince in dresser drawers. The scent of quince is very inviting but the raw flesh of the quince is quite hard and the taste is astringent -not easy to eat raw.  A quince must be cooked in order to be eaten. There are jams, it can be baked with pork dishes, turned into spoon sweets or used in an array of other desserts (I made Quince Bougatsa). […]

says:

Man, you just brought back memories of my first time in Greece as a kid. My uncle owns a small hotel in Aegina, which was where we spent most of our summer. I remembef passing by the bakery late in the afternoon while walking around with my family. I smelled the bougatsa from far away and questioned the smell. Once I was told what it was, I plotted to wake up early the next day and sneak out to go get one…alone. The next morning, I snuck out and headed for the bakery. I anxiously stood in line waiting my turn. Once it was my turn I stuttered while thinking about it! I got my bougatsa me krema along with my chocolate milk and headed out for the beach! I sat on the beach watching the sun rise while enjoying my breakfast.