My Favorite Greek Breakfast Pastry

titleAbout this time 7 years ago I was prepping for my first trip to Europe. I was so excited and so incredibly nervous. I was going to Greece to study abroad for 4 months. I didn’t know anyone else going, and I had barely left the country before (except for a walk across the border into Mexico).

Greek culture was so different than what I was used to, and I constantly find myself longing to go back for a visit. I miss the laid back life style of Greece (late starts to the day, afternoon nap time, and the last meal of the day between 9-11pm), and the food…definitely the food. I wasn’t vegetarian back then, so I ate whatever I wanted (but never the skewered lamb…seeing the whole lamb impaled through the eyeball grossed me out). I think one of the best things was a simple gyro that I got almost every day down the street from the university. It was about 2 USD, and so simple and so delicious. Another favorite was a Greek breakfast pastry that they sold at a bakery near the university.

Side note: There were a lot of really cool shop owners there that loved to help us learn Greek. The owner of the grocery underneath my apartment, would not speak to me in English even though he spoke it very well…he always made me practice my Greek. The same with the bakery owner near the university, it took me forever to learn the word “bougatsa”. Upon googling, it looks like it’s also referred to as galaktoboureko, and apparently Athens has “the worst”…I can only imagine what “good” bougatsa tastes like.

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Every few months I find myself dreaming of this amazing breakfast pastry made of phyllo dough and custard (although now I think of it as dessert because I try not to devour sweets as a healthy breakfast). I finally decided to try to veganize it last week. I was hesitant because ethnic foods never taste as good when they’re not made with the same local ingredients as in their native land, but I figured even if it was close, I’d be happy.

I made the custard with semolina flour, almond milk, vanilla extract, and coconut sugar. Usually you can’t just leave out eggs in a recipe and have it still come out, but this wasn’t too bad. I’d like to try it with a powdered egg replacer, but I was all out at the time. The custard was a bit runny, and a little bit of arrowroot probably would’ve thickened it up, but since I was going to bake it, I left it as it was.

Although, I wouldn’t say it was 100% authentic, it came out tasting really good. The custard filling wasn’t as thick and chewy as the original, probably due to the lack of eggs. Next time, I’m going to try adding some heavy cream (Probably Silk creamer), and will use Ener-g egg replacer to make it a little thicker. Even though it wasn’t exact, it was sooo good, so definitely a win in my book!

 ingredients

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I used a bread pan since I didn’t want to make too much of it, just in case it didn’t come out right. I put a phyllo sheet on the bottom of the pan and then hung it over the edge. I overlapped the bottom of the sheets (spraying w/cooking oil each time), and then simply layered the hanging part of the sheet over the custard for the top.

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pouring

After I poured in the custard, I layered back over the sheets of dough that I hung off the side.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon semolina
  • 1-1/4 cups almond milk (I used Original)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used coconut, which I think made it a little bit darker)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • phyllo sheets (I used 5, and folded them over)
  • cooking spray (I used olive oil because it’s what I had, but a less flavored one like canola might turn out better. You can always use butter/margarine, cooking spray is just super easy.)

Directions:

*Note: Make sure you read the directions on your phyllo dough. I have been storing mine in the fridge, but if you keep it in the freezer, you’ll have to defrost it for a few hours.

  • Preheat oven to 385°F.
  • Make the semolina custard by mixing the semolina and milk slowly over medium heat. I added the milk about 1/3 at a time.
  • Stir in the sugar and vanilla and continue to stir until custard thickens.
  • After about 15 minutes, the custard should be slightly thicker, remove from heat and cool in the fridge.
  • Spray pan (I used a loaf pan) with cooking spray.
  • Layer one sheet of dough and then spray with cooking spray.
  • Continue layering half of your dough, spraying between each sheet.
  • Pour the custard onto the dough.
  • Fold over the dough sheets, one at a time, still spraying between each. (See above picture for a better explanation.)
  • Spray final layer with cooking spray and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown.

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