Being raised in a Greek home surrounded by delicious Greek bakes, I'm always on the hunt for different ideas for putting my twist on these classic old favourites.
I have chosen five of my favourite Greek bakes to get creative with and add a little something different.
Favourite Greek Bake No. 1 – Bougatsa
Bougatsa is an all time favourite in Greece as a breakfast food. Yes you heard right – breakfast! Well it has milk and eggs and butter so sure why not!
So what is Bougatsa I hear you saying?
It’s a creamy semolina custard wrapped in flaky filo pastry and best purchased first thing in the morning while it's still warm.
Our first taste of bougatsa while travelling through Greece was in a little seaside village called Kala Nera. We were supposed to head up to Thessaloniki but the long drive put us off so we decided we'd go to the Volos region and explore. Let me tell you, this place is a hidden gem. As we drove along the peninsula, we discovered paradise. The beaches were crystal clear and mostly occupied by the locals and had that untouched feel about them.
But back to our first taste of bougatsa.
We discovered an unassuming Greek Bakery/Zaharoplasteio that created the best bougatsa. The pastry was flaky and the cream delicious – I'm sure this is where I picked up those extra kilos around my waist! But hey, the aromas from this shop were just too tempting and after that first bite…there was no turning back! I was determined to create my own back home but wanted to put my mark on it. So here's my twist.
Twist – Add pistachio paste to the semolina cream
Favourite Greek Bake No. 2 – Tsoureki
I love this sweet bread. It's not unlike the French Brioche but possibly a little less butter added.
Traditionally, we make this bread during our Greek Passover celebrations. Once the dough is prepared, we portion it into three parts, roll three strands and plait it into a loaf adding a red-dyed egg on top.
This bread is best eaten on the day but when there are left overs, I'm telling you, we're dancing with excitement in the kitchen! This bread is perfect for toasting each morning and spreading with a little butter and your favourite topping.
So what's my twist?
Twist – Add a spice mix by brushing on each strand before plaiting.
Favourite Greek Bake No. 3 – Baklava
This dessert is famous all over the world. Mention Greece and immediately you think of ooey gooey honey dripping from layers and layers of nut filled filo pastry.
I'm not a big fan of shop bought baklava. Here’s the reason why. It’s too sweet, dripping with way too much sugar syrup and it overpowers the whole experience.
But if you can get your hands on some homemade baklava, I suggest go for it. It's often not as sweet and you’re not going to feel like you’re about to bounce off the walls!
But here’s my big twist to this one. I wanted to create a baklava experience for my gluten-free friends – so I created the Greek Lovers Baklava Cake. There’s no pastry involved but the familiar ingredients such as nuts, citrus rind and spices are all in there.
Twist – swap filo for gluten free flour and create a baklava cake.
Favourite Greek Bake No. 4 – Loukoumades
Another word for donuts, these little morsels of happiness are what I grew up eating during the winter months.
I remember those cold mornings and the aroma wafting through the house early on a Sunday morning and knowing we were in for a treat.
These loukoumades traditionally are fried and then drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon or on occasion we would roll them in sugar – not unlike a cinnamon donut.
But with all this sugar my system is shouting for a change!
My twist to these yummy treats?
Twist – ditch the sweet toppings and add crumbled feta and fresh thyme for a savoury alternative.
Favourite Greek Bake No. 5 – Galaktobureko
Okay, so I left the best till last!
This dessert has been an all time favourite in our family. When ALL the family came together, we were bound to gather around this deliciously sweet tray of custard filled filo pie. In fact, my nephew insisted his yia yia make one every time he visited – which yia yia loved to do of course!
This bake is sweet but in small quantities very Moorish! And if you were lucky enough to find some ice cream in the freezer, a scoop on top was just perfect!
My twist to this near perfect dessert is....
Twist – Melt dark chocolate and add to custard mixture before pouring into filo cups.
Well there you have it! My twist on some Greek classics!
I'd love to hear what you think...maybe you have your own twists you like to put on some of your favourite bakes? Send them through and I will post on my blog..and let's share the love!
By the way, if you are interested in how to make those twists, I will be posting the recipes in the coming weeks...stay tuned!