Sautéed spiced fruit, classic Greek semolina-custard, a sliced-almond topping—nested in a flaky phyllo crust—bring all of our favorite things together in one sweet dish. Talk about taking dessert to whole new level of scrumptious (make-ahead instructions included)! Perfect for an elegant Pascha-dinner finale.
Fruit options (semi-firm): quince, plums, apricots, peaches, bosc pears, peeled and cored apples (such as Fuji, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, or Braeburn)
1. Choose fruit that’s semi-firm the slices hold their shape while baking.
2. The key to a creamy custard is stirring constantly. If you don’t, the custard will stick to the bottom of the pan and will get lumpy, so stir, stir, STIR!
3. We prefer the slightly thicker #5 phyllo sheets (compared to #4) because they’re easier to work with, but still result in a flaky pastry.
PREP TIME 30 minutes plus standing
COOKING TIME about 30 minutes
BAKING TIME 40 minutes
2 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Small pinch cardamom
Small pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/4 pounds semi-firm fruit (see options above), pitted and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Greek thyme honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Greek brandy
3 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Small pinch vanilia (crystalized vanilla) or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups whole milk
Peel of half lemon
1/2 cup fine semolina
3 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing pie plate and phyllo, and for almonds
6 sheets #5 or #4 (14-by-18-inch) phyllo dough, thawed, at room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
3/4 cup sliced almonds
Confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon, for dusting
1. Make fruit topping: In a small bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg; set aside. In a large bowl, gently toss together the fruit slices, brown sugar, honey, and lemon juice. In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the fruit and the liquid in the bowl and simmer until slices are just fork tender but still holding their shape, 5 to 6 minutes (do not overcook). Stir in the brandy and the flour-spice mixture until combined; cook until liquid has thickened, about 2 minutes more. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let stand until cooled, about 1 hour. (Can be made ahead. Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate overnight.)
2. Make custard filling: In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilia (if using vanilla extract, add at the end of this step) until lightened; set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk and lemon peel to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Gradually stir about 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture until combined (to temper the eggs), then gradually stir the egg mixture into the milk in the pan until combined; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the semolina until combined; cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes (breaking up any lumps with the back of the spoon). Remove from heat and discard the lemon peel. Cover the saucepan with a damp clean kitchen towel (it should not touch the custard) and the saucepan lid (this will help prevent a skin from forming on the surface of the custard), and let cool completely. If using vanilla extract, when custard has cooled, stir in until combined.
3. Make crust: Heat oven to 325°F and lightly oil a 9-inch pie plate. Center 1 sheet of phyllo in pie plate, gently fitting into the corners (keep remaining sheets covered with a clean kitchen towel to prevent drying). Brush phyllo sheet with olive oil all the way to the overhanging edges. Repeat with remaining sheets and olive oil, brushing the top sheet. Trim the corners of the phyllo crust to form a round with a 2-inch overhang. Fold the overhang into the pie plate, forming an edge that extends about 1/2 inch above the plate.
4. Arrange the fruit evenly in the crust and pour the custard over the top, spreading evenly to the edges. Bake 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, toss the almond slices with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil until coated well (or you can lightly coat with olive-oil spray in a can); set aside.
6. Remove the pastry from the oven and top evenly with the almond slices. Bake about 10 minutes more, until the center of the custard is set (just slightly jiggly) and the almonds are golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting. (Can be made ahead. Cool completely, then place in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
7. Just before serving, dust the pie with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe © copyright Kukla's Kouzina: A Gourmet Journey~Greek Island Style, kuklaskouzina.com
I hope you enjoy our fruit-and-almond bougatsa recipe and that it puts a finishing sweet note on your Pascha/Easter!
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