Cretan Bougatsa is a Greek breakfast pastry made with filo pastry consisting of fillings such as semolina, custard or cheese. The fillings change depending on the region of Greece. The Cretan bougatsa differs from the traditional Greek bougatsa found all over Greece and especially in Thessaloniki. In Crete, a soft cheese known as Myzithra is used for the filling. It’s similar to ricotta but is slightly sour, has a more intense flavour and is made with goat or sheep’s milk. It has a unique and distinct taste that’s difficult to replicate in other parts of the world.
Cretan cooking often entails the mix of sweet and savoury elements in dishes. Cheese is often paired with honey and cinnamon. Other examples that utilise cheese in a sweet sense include Cretan Kalitsounia, small individual cheese pies, Sfakianopites, made in the region of Sfakia, they are a flat pita pie filled with cheese and drizzled with honey.
Ingredients for Cretan Bougatsa:
1.5 tablespoons cornflour
150g goats cheese
150g smooth ricotta
8 sheets Antoniou Fillo pastry
Cinnamon to taste
Granulated sugar to taste
Method for Cretan Bougatsa:
1. Mix the cornflour with a quarter cup of the milk. Ensure there are no lumps and the mix is a smooth consistency. Warm the milk slightly and then add cornflour mix to it and stir continuously until it begins to thicken. Once it has bubbled add the 20g of butter and continue to mix until it is all well combined. Turn off the heat and let it cool slightly.
2. Combine all the three cheeses ensuring that they are all mixed well together. You may need to use your hands to incorporate.
3. Add the cheese mix to the milk mix, stir to combine well and set aside.
4. Melt the 80g of butter in a small pot.
For the pastry
5. Using a pastry brush, butter the first sheet of fillo pastry. Place a second sheet on top of that and butter that also. Finally place the third sheet on top of that and butter again.
6. With the fourth sheet, butter only half of it then fold over, butter and fold over again so that it’s in a quarter and then place this in the centre of the three sheet pile. This adds an extra strong layer of insulation so that you can place the cheese mix onto it.
7. If you prefer you can use extra virgin olive oil to brush the pastry with instead of butter. This is a personal preference.
8. Fold the bottom half of the pastry up, then the top half of the pastry down, butter the pastry and then fold in the sides so the filling has been enveloped.
9. Carefully lift the parcel up and place the seam side down onto a baking tray that has been lined with baking paper.
For the cooking
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, crunchy and puffy.
11. Remove from the oven and let it rest for five minutes before cutting in the middle vertically and then cutting across horizontally three times so that you have eight pieces.
12. Sprinkle generously with granulated sugar and cinnamon. Best served warm. Do not cut the parcels that you do not intend on serving immediately. To re-warm them they must be in one whole piece.
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