Monday, July 15, 2013

Mπουγατσα (mpougatsa)

Don't worry, I can't pronounce that either. Written in the 'normal' alphabet it says: Mpougatsa. But to be honest I can't pronounce that either. So let's call it a cream pie. This traditional Greek sweet has a soft custard-like filling between crunchy layers of filo. It's served warm in bite-sized pieces with cinnamon and powdered sugar on top and eaten at practically any time of the day, but is most often sold in the very early all the way into the late mornings. When you go to Greece you'll find this in every shop at every corner at any point in time. It's one of the sweets I especially remember from my times in Greece.

Mpougatsa
1 brownie tin - from About and Squidoo

4 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup semolina
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10-14 sheets of filo dough
100 grams butter
Cinnamon and powdered sugar

1. Take a large pan and heat it on medium heat with the milk and the semolina. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens, then turn off the heat and cover.
2. Mix the sugar with the eggs until fluffy or thoroughly mixed.
3. Add the eggs and the vanilla to the milk and turn the heat back on to medium. Keep stirring until everything is fully incorporated and the cream starts to thicken. As soon as you have the consistency of a custard, take off the heat, cover and set aside to cool.
4. Grease a brownie tin and line the bottom and sides with a filo sheet. Generously cover in butter, then line with another sheet, which you generously cover in butter again. REpeat this process until you have around 6-8 sheets on the bottom and at least 4 layers to the sides. If your filo sheets, like mine, are smaller than the tin you can mess around with this a bit.
5. After you greased the last filo sheet cover with the custard-like filling. 
6. Top with another 4-6 sheets, each generously covered in butter. Do not brush the last filo sheet with butter, but spray water on it instead.
7. Bake in a preheated oven of 180 degrees Celsius or 360 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.
8. Let the mpougatsa cool down for 10 minutes once out of the oven, then top generously with cinnamon and powdered sugar and cut into bite-sized pieces before serving. A pizza knife is very handy for cutting the mpougatsa.

This dessert is eaten warm with a generous amount of cinnamon and powdered sugar. It should be consumed within hours of baking. However, I found you can keep it for around 3-4 days and it still tastes fine when reheated in the microwave. You will have to top again with powdered sugar. It's a little like cheating, but if you're not a big eater or tend to make too much, you don't have to worry about throwing it out straight away!


Even though I quite liked this Greek cream pie, it's not as good as the real thing. Sitting in the shadow around a little table at the side of the street, watching busy people pass by while hiding from the hot Greek sun; to be honest it's not even comparable. Talking about the real thing, I've also seen mpougatsa filled with savory fillings like feta and spinach. Perhaps I can find a recipe for those too. Does anyone have one? This mpougatsa recipe was surprisingly hard to find even though it's quite popular in Greece.

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