Bougatsa sounds like a swear word!

Bougatsa (Greek Semolina Custard in Phyllo Pastry)

A lot of Greek words sound like swear words and that’s probably why I have a Greek background and not a French one! I love to use certain Greek words toward certain people to make them think I’m swearing at them when in fact I’m not…plays with their mind! Mean? Probably! Fun? Totally!

‘Bougatsa’ is one such word. Although I don’t recall ever having called someone a ‘bougatsa’ but it sounds so good I just might have to…of course it’s the Greek swear words that I teach all my friends. My Greek is not perfect but my swear words are awesome!

Bougatsa is different to the Greek sweet ‘Galaktobouriko’…it’s the street version. You can buy these from little Greek men and women who sell them fresh on the side of the road and eat them while you walk. They are wrapped in pastry and are not drowned in sugar syrup. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good drowning in sugar syrup but that sweet is time consuming to make and you have to make a huge tray of it otherwise it’s not worth making. When you buy Galaktobouriko, you need to sit down and have a coffee and lounge for hours (not a bad idea either).

This is much simpler. Doesn’t take long at all to make and it’s one of the few times I use phyllo pastry. Taste sensation and fun with words!


  • 4 1/4 cups of whole milk
  • sliced peel of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup of semolina
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 12 sheets of commercial phyllo dough
  • 6 ounces of butter, melted


Warm the milk and lemon peel in a saucepan. Stir in semolina with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thoroughly blended and thickened. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until light and add to the pan, stirring over medium-low heat until it reaches a creamy custard consistency. Remove from heat, take out and discard lemon peel, and allow to cool completely. Stir occasionally to keep the custard from forming a skin on top.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Lightly brush a baking pan (13 X 9 X 2 or equivalent) with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with 8 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet well with the melted butter. Add the custard filling. Fold the excess phyllo that overlaps the pan in over the custard. Top with the remaining phyllo, brushing each with butter. Use a scissors to trim the top sheets to the size of the pan. Spray the top lightly with water and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon while hot, and serve warm.