We all wish we could make desserts with the prowess of a professional chef. Sometimes we just need a good recipe – and don’t we have a good one for you!

David Tsirekas of Sydney CBD’s most sophisticated Greek restaurant, 1821, has let us in on his secret of how to make the perfect Apple Bougatsa – the Grecian version of everyone’s favourite dessert, the apple pie.

Bougatsa is a traditional dessert heralding from Thessaloniki in Northern Greece – an area famous for its well-stocked pastry shops which sell semolina custard and cheese-filled bougatsas daily. Tsirekas tells us that his recipe is a hybrid of the traditional pastry and homely apple pie flavours and he has generously given us his recipe for 1821’s Apple Pie Bougatsa – a recipe that requires a lot of labour, time and concentration, but trust us, it will be worth it.

APPLE PIE BOUGATSA

CUSTARD FILLING

Ingredients:
250g fine semolina
125g caster sugar
1 litre milk
250g butter
1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
200ml cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg

In a saucepan warm the milk, butter and vanilla bean. In a mixing bowl whisk together remaining ingredients until it becomes creamy. Once milk has warmed, slowly whisk in semolina mix. Continue to whisk constantly until mixture thickens and comes away from the pot. It should be the consistency of a creamy but not runny mash potato. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, prepare…

APPLE COMPOTE

Ingredients:
10 large granny smith apples
3 cinnamon sticks
250g caster sugar

Peel apples and cut them into dice-sized shapes. Place into saucepan with remaining ingredients over low heat, stirring occasionally.

No liquid is needed as the apples will extract liquid and together with the sugar will begin to caramelise slightly. Cook for around 30 minutes but be mindful not to turn them to mush. Set aside to cool. Then fold through half of mixture into semolina custard omitting any liquids.

WALNUT CRUMB

Ingredients:
500g walnut kernels
250ml honey

In a saucepan dilute honey with another 250ml of water and walnuts. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside and let sit for 5 minutes in liquid. Strain and keep liquid. Spread the walnuts on a baking tray and bake in an oven at 130 celsius until for 15 to 30 minutes or until crunchy. Crush to use as garnish.

Apple Pie Bougatsa served at 1821 (Image: supplied)

MAKING THE BOUGATSA

Ingredients:
3 packets Antoniou thick filo pastry
250 grams butter

Open up filo and place foolscap on workbench. Cut in half lengthwise. Stack 2 layers of sheet together.  Melt butter.

Arrange one layer of filo and brush with butter. Align another layer directly on top and brush again, repeating 2 more times.  Spoon some mixture in the bottom centre of the sheets of filo making sure to leave about 5cm from the bottom to fold over the filo. Take the bottom left corner of the filo and cross it to the right hand side to form one side of a triangle. Then take the right point and bring up to the left once again to form another side. Keep going from left to right until you’re nearly at the top, all the while making sure you gently press down to spread mixture into the filo triangle. When nearly at the top brush again with a little more melted butter to seal the triangle. Place somewhere to set. Repeat until all mixture and filo is used, then set aside in fridge to chill before cooking. Filo always cooks best when it has been properly chilled.

Cook in an oven at 190 celsius. Line a pizza tray with buttered baking paper, butter the pastry and place in oven. On occasion baste the pastry with butter and flip to brown on opposite side and butter again. It will be ready when it is golden brown. Remove and butter again.

Sprinkle with lots of icing sugar and a touch of cinnamon powder. Serve with the leftover apple compote, walnut crumble and if you are feeling adventurous the olive oil ice cream below.

(OPTIONAL) OLIVE OIL ICE CREAM

Ingredients:
5 cups cream
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 egg yolks
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
1.5 cups caster sugar
In a thick, bottomed saucepan add 3 cups of the cream and cinnamon sticks. Scrape the seeds of the split vanilla bean into the mixture and add the beans. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Set aside to cool for one hour.

In an electric mixer at high speed, whip the egg yolks and 1 cup of sugar until the mixture becomes pale and creamy. Strain the cream and discard the cinnamon and vanilla bean. Heat the cream over very low heat. Whisk constantly and slowly add the egg mixture, stirring until the mixture coats the back of a spoon or until it starts to froth. Chill for two hours. Whip remaining cream and sugar. Fold into chilled cream mixture and then whisk in olive oil well. Put in ice cream churner. You may have to do it in two batches or halve this mixture for a domestic churner.

(Featured Image: Supplied)

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