Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Bulgarian Milk Phyllo Pie

Every New Year's Eve a big question is raised in my family - what kind of pie with lucky charms shall we make. The pie with lucky charms is a traditional Bulgarian custom on that day. It is usually savoury but can also be sweet (with pumpkin) and has lucky charms for the upcoming year in it that each of the family gets first thing in the New Year.

However, in today's diet the whole concept of a pie as additional, kind of a side food, to the rest of the abundant menu, is a bit out of place. That's why it is always a big question in what form this pie can be made part of the menu of the night and the whole preparation of it doesn't look like a waste of efforts.
Luckily phyllo sheets are very versatile - you can bake in a whole pan and they cut into desired shapes, you can bake them individually in a muffin tin in pretty flower shapes, or you can of course fold them or roll them individually and make even more shapes.

While the phyllo sheets determine the texture, but the filling is the most important part as it determines the taste. And the filling can be savoury, gravitating towards feta cheese plain or with leeks, green onions and herbs, with pickled or fresh cabbage, with meat, or sweet, including apples, carrots, squash , raisins, nuts etc. So it's a tough decision to make.

This year however, I was keen on revisiting a childhood classic, which is a Bulgarian milk phyllo pie.
It is kind of similar to the Greek Galaktoboureko (which basically means pie with milk), and is sometimes translated as custard pie, but the difference is that the Bulgarian version doesn't use any flour or semolina in the filling.
The filling is made out of milk, eggs and sugar, similar to creme caramel and is then poured over the baked filo sheets.
To enhance the taste I put cinnamon and a pinch of powdered cardamon with a dash of rose water and vanilla.

The result was such a success (not that we've ever doubted it), even the kids loved it (which doesn't happen often and usually involves tricky negotiation techniques and bargaining).
So, I just have to share this recipe!

The very good part of this, taste aside, is how fast this pie is made - 5 minutes for the first stage, bake, 3 minutes for the second stage, bake again. Et voila! A whole pie with under 10 minutes of preparation. And with litterally one bowl to wash up. Clean!


400g phyllo sheets
1 cup oil
Cardamom powder

for the filling:

1 litre milk
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp rose water
3-4 cardamom seeds - crushed


Brush the bottom of a round or a rectangle tin with oil and place two phyllo sheets. Brush the top side with oil and fold the edges if necessary.

Place the next two sheets of phyllo on top and repeat - brush oil and fold the edges.
After the first three rounds before oiling the top phyllo sheet sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon and powdered cardamon, then oil. Do this twice for the whole pie but be careful the sprinkled layer doesn't end last.

Finish with two layers of plain phyllo sheets. Fold the edges, oil and now (the very important part) made some cuts into the pie with a knife and then cut the sheets into squares (or diamonds)

Put into the oven and bake at 180 C until golden brown or about 40 minutes.

In the meantime, beat the eggs with the sugar and milk and add the spices and aromas.

When the phyllo is well golden-red, take it out of the oven, place on a rack and cover with the filling, which will distribute evenly between the phyllo sheets.

Bake for another 35-40 minutes at 180C.

Take out of the oven and leave to cool down.
Sprinkle some icing sugar if you wish, it is fine without as well.

And Happy New Year!

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