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Bougatsa with Honey and Pistachios

Classic Greek breakfast pastry filled with custard and topped with a honey drizzle and pistachios. This is delightful any time of day!

Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine Greek
Keyword Bougatsa, Custard Pastry, Greek Pastry, Phyllo Dough
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author The Tiny Fairy



  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup fine semolina flour prefer Monastiri brand, imported from Greece
  • small pinch of kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
  • 1 whole extra large egg
  • 3 extra large egg yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 large lemon, zested
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter prefer Plugra brand


  • 1 packet of phyllo pastry sheets
  • about 1½ sticks unsalted butter, melted prefer Plugra brand


  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons honey prefer Attiki pure Greek honey with wild flora and thyme
  • juice of ½ a large lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • cinnamon powder
  • powdered sugar
  • ¼-⅓ cup pistachio nuts, chopped


  1. Preheat oven 350°F, place rack in the center and butter your baking dish. I used a 9-inch deep-dish pie ceramic dish.


  1. In a large sauce pot, combine 5 cups of whole milk, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup fine semolina flour and a pinch of salt. Whisk the mixture over low-medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the semolina flour is evenly distributed.

    Note: If left unattended, the semolina flour could clump up. If that happens, start over.

  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together 1 whole egg, 3 egg yolks and 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch. Temper the eggs by slowly drizzling about three ladles of hot milk into the egg mixture while constantly whisking.

  3. Pour the egg mixture through a sieve directly over the large pot of milk.

    Note: By pouring the egg mixture through a sieve, you remove any egg particles that didn't whisk well, ensuring a creamy custard.

  4. Bring the temperature up to medium heat and add the zest of a lemon and 2 teaspoons of vanilla paste or extract. Whisk until the mixture thickens and becomes a custard.

    Note: Be patient. Keep an eye on the heat. If too hot, the custard could burn and stick to the pot.

  5. When the custard has thickened, remove from the heat add 2 Tablespoons of butter. Set aside.


  1. Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on the buttered baking dish with a third of the sheet hanging over the dish. Dip a pastry brush in melted butter and drizzle or shake the brush over the phyllo. Overlap with another layer of phyllo and drizzle with melted butter. Repeat until you have placed about 10-12 layers of buttered phyllo dough all around your baking dish.

    Note: Place them loosely in the baking pan allowing some of the dough to hang over the side of the baking dish.

  2. Pour the custard in the center of the dish and spread evenly throughout.

  3. Begin to fold and cover the custard with the overhanging phyllo edges. Work from the last sheet you placed to the first sheet. As you fold an edge or two over, drizzle with melted butter.

  4. Loosely scrunch up one phyllo sheet at a time into a fan or accordion and create a concentric circle of phyllo sheets on top. With the first sheet, scroll it into a circle, much like a sea shell and place it in the center. Then wrap each subsequent accordion phyllo sheet around the circle until you've covered the pie and reached the edge.

  5. Drizzle the top with melted butter ensuring all the nooks and crannies are buttered. You may not need all the melted butter.

  6. Wet your hands a few times and flick the water off your fingers over the Bougatsa.

    Note: See notes regarding scoring the pie.

  7. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until golden.


  1. While the Bougatsa bakes, make the syrup. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, stir water, sugar and cinnamon stick until the sugar dissolves. Add honey and lemon juice and simmer for a minutes. Turn the heat off and allow the ingredients to steep. Remove cinnamon stick before assembly.


  1. When the Bougatsa comes out of the oven it will be piping hot and sizzling. Let it rest for about 15 minutes before sprinkling ground cinnamon and drizzling a few tablespoons of syrup over the pastry.

  2. Wait an additional 10-15 minutes before generously sprinkling powdered sugar and chopped pistachios. Serve the remaining syrup on the side. Enjoy warm!

Recipe Notes

Scoring the pie:   In Greece the pie usually prepared in a rectangle and it is scored before baking so it's easier to cut and serve after.    For presentation purposes, I do not recommend scoring this pie.   Also note this is served warm so the custard filling will ooze out once cut and served.