Creamy Custard Phyllo Pastry

Bougatsa Custard Pie

 Nancy Gaifyllia

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1324 Calories
74g Fat
151g Carbs
13g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 1324
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 74g 95%
Saturated Fat 31g 157%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 1100mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 151g 55%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 139mg 11%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 332mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Greek this tasty street food is known as μπουγάτσα με κρέμα, pronounced boo-GHAHT-sah meh KREH-mah. This recipe for the favorite Greek street food and snack, bougatsa, is traditionally made with very large handmade phyllo sheets. The sheets are rolled super thin and then are folded over multiple times before finally being folded over the filling. Making homemade phyllo sheets is a very advanced cooking technique and quite time-consuming.

This version of bougatsa calls for commercial phyllo dough. It can be found in better grocery stores in the frozen food aisle, usually near the pie crusts. Be sure to read the defrosting instructions carefully. Frozen phyllo dough usually has to come to room temperature for a few hours before it's usable, so to time your prep and cooking correctly. This decadent sweet treat has a creamy custard filling and is sliced and served warm, sprinkled with confectioner's sugar and cinnamon.

Note that the recipe calls for sliced lemon peel. Keep it in one or two big slices since it will be used for flavoring only and will need to be removed. If the slices are too small or numerous, it will be quite tricky to remove them.


  • 4 1/4 cups whole milk

  • 1 lemon peel, sliced

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup semolina

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 12 sheets phyllo dough

  • 6 ounces (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

  • Confectioners' sugar, optional for sprinkling

  • Ground cinnamon, for sprinkling

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Warm the milk and lemon peel in a saucepan. Stir in semolina with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thoroughly blended and thickened.

  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until light and add to the pan, stirring over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches a creamy custard consistency.

  4. Remove from heat, take out and discard the lemon peel, and allow the mixture to cool completely. Stir occasionally to keep the custard from forming a skin on top.

  5. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

  6. Lightly brush a baking pan (13 x 9 x 2 or equivalent) with butter.

  7. Line the bottom of the pan with 8 sheets of phyllo, brushing between each sheet well with the melted butter. Add the custard filling.

  8. Fold the excess phyllo that overlaps the pan in over the custard.

  9. Top with the remaining phyllo, brushing each with butter.

  10. Use scissors to trim the top sheets to the size of the pan.

  11. Spray the top lightly with water and bake at 350 F (180 C) for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

  12. Remove from oven, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and cinnamon while hot, and serve warm.

  13. Enjoy!


  • In Greece, bougatsa is cut with a pizza cutter. This is an easy way to cut it and ensure straight lines and a deep cut. Do not reheat.