Bougatsa, a custard dessert that is encased in phyllo pastry, is a traditional Greek dessert that can be eaten any time of the day. It is not overly sweet and can be eaten warm or cold. Leave it uncovered to preserve the crunchy and flaky phyllo pastry. Bougatsa can be reheated to serve warm.

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1 egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup 35% cream
1/4 cup semolina
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, cubed
Zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
5 to 8 sheets phyllo pastry
3/4 cup butter, melted (for phyllo and pan)
Confectioners sugar (for top)
Cinnamon (for top)

Make the custard first as it needs to completely cool before use. Lightly beat the eggs, vanilla and salt together. Add the sugar and beat until frothy and light. Heat the milk (do not boil) and slowly pour the heated milk into the eggs while beating. Once the milk has been incorporated, add the custard to a pot and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture should be slightly thickened. Slowly pour in the semolina, stirring to incorporate it fully into the custard. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the butter one cube at a time, whisking it in until the custard is thick and smooth. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Transfer the custard to a measuring cup (it has less surface) and cover with plastic wrap that rests right on the custard. Refrigerate until completely cooled (at least 1 hour).

Make sure you have a large surface to work on when preparing the phyllo. Wet a thin dish towel and squeeze out the liquid so it is just damp. Remove the phyllo pastry from the packaging and cover with the damp towel to keep it from drying out. Take one sheet of phyllo pastry and brush with the melted butter. Take a second sheet of phyllo pastry and, as closely as possible, place on top of the first sheet. Brush this layer with butter again. Repeat this again a third time (you want three sheets on the bottom).

Place the three sheets on the bottom of your pan letting the phyllo rest over the edge. Spread your custard over the phyllo pastry. Take the edges of the sheets that extend the pan and place them over the custard. Prepare the top by repeating the previous process of brushing the phyllo but layer just two sheets. Fold the edges to fit the size of the pan used and with the folded edges down, place on top of the custard and folded edges. Brush the top with butter.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Lightly dust with confectioners sugar and cinnamon. Makes one 8” x 9” pan or two 4” x 9” pans.

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