The only tricky thing here is the filo pastry: getting it to the size of your dish and then putting it in the dish in individual layers. It is much easier with help. You won’t need all of the filo, so quickly work out what is left over, wrap that up carefully and put it straight into the fridge before it dries out and can’t be used. You could make the flavours richer by adding some chopped orange peel or rose water to the semolina but I actually love this just plain. Bougatsa is best served warm with tea or a small glass of vin santo, moscato or port.
Put the milk, sugar and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour in the semolina in a thin, steady stream, holding it up high and stirring continuously. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the semolina thickens. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.
Remove the vanilla bean from the semolina mixture, scraping out all the seeds into the pan with a knife. Take
Trim all the edges of the pastry, leaving a small overhang on all sides. Fold all the edges neatly onto the custard. Cut one more sheet of filo to exactly fit the top of the dish and hide the tucked-in edges. Brush this with melted butter.
This bit is tricky. Using a very sharp knife, score serving portions like a grid on the surface of the pastry, cutting through a couple of layers of the filo (it will be almost impossible to do this neatly after it is cooked). To prevent the pastry moving about too much and the custard leaking out, support it with your free hand as you cut. You should get about 20 small servings.
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