Welcome to Moonbright!
Kate Angell, Allyson Charles, and I had such a wonderful time setting our stories in the magical seaside town of Moonbright, Maine. The stories center around Bellaluna’s Bakeshop, an Italian bakeshop owned by the heroine of my story, Abriana, and her grandmother, Sofia.
It was so much fun researching this story, not the least of which was trying out some Italian pastry recipes! And yes, the book comes with several yummy recipes for you to try!
Today, however, I want to talk about the other chef in my story. My Greek hero, Caleb Dimitriou. His entire extended family run a handful of Greek restaurants, scattered from Philadelphia, to Maine, and all the way to Greece!
My great-uncle was Greek, and my grandmother ran a family restaurant, so it was great fun to delve a bit into the family history and bring it to life in this fresh, fictional way. I only wish the story was longer so I could indulge in my love of Greek food as well as all those delicious Italian pastries.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t indulge in playing with a few family Greek recipes. The things I do for research! (Yes, the struggle is real. And delicious!)
I thought I would share with you a recipe for one of my great-uncle’s favorite desserts, Sweet Bougatsa! This is a breakfast pastry most popular in the Central Macedonia region of the northern part of Greece. Bougatsa often contains savory fillings, like minced meat, but his favorite was the kind filled with sweet cream custard. I hope you’ll give the recipe a try!
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 1 egg yolk (room temperature)
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup semolina
- 1/2 cup butter (cut into small pieces)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 10 sheets phyllo dough
- 2 tablespoons melted butter (for brushing pastry)
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
- Cinnamon (for sprinkling)
For custard filling:
1) Add the egg, egg yolk, and sugar to a medium bowl. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
2) Pour milk into a medium saucepan and heat on medium-low. Whisk steadily until the milk is fully heated.
3) Remove mixture from the heat. Slowly add the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking briskly as the milk is added. Continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken.
4) Add the egg/milk mixture back into the warm saucepan and heat on low until the mixture is warm.
5) Continue whisking the contents of the pan until the custard begins to form, for approximately three to four minutes.
6) Sprinkle in the semolina as you whisk.
7) Stir well until the mixture continues to thicken, for approximately another four to six minutes.
8) Add the small pieces of butter and stir until the butter is fully melted.
9) Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
10) When the custard has cooled, stir in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
1) Brush the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with the melted butter (do not use spray.)
2) Add 1 sheet of filo and brush with butter. Repeat with 3 more sheets of filo.
3) Spread half of the custard mixture evenly over the 4th sheet of filo.
4) Add another sheet of filo and brush with butter. Repeat with 1 more sheet.
5) Spread the rest of the custard mixture over that piece and then add another sheet of filo. Brush with butter.
6) Repeat with the remaining sheets of filo and brush the final piece with the rest of the butter.
7) Place the pan on the middle rack inside the pre-heated oven. Bake 30 minutes, or until the surface of the pastry is a golden brown.
8) Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.
9) Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon just before serving.
I hope you’ll give my uncle’s sweet treat a try! Perhaps a nice warm piece while you settle in to read THE BAKESHOP AT PUMPKIN & SPICE. I hope you enjoy them both!
Every autumn, Moonbright, Maine, is the picture of charm with its piles of crisp leaves, flickering jack-o’-lanterns . . . and a touch of the sweetest kind of enchantment.
Witches, goblins, the occasional ghost—they’re all sure to be spotted at the annual Halloween parade, where adults and children alike dress in costume to celebrate Moonbright’s favorite holiday. And no place has more seasonal spirit than Bellaluna’s Bakeshop, a family business steeped in traditional recipes, welcoming warmth—and, legend has it, truly spellbinding, heart-melting treats…
Between good-natured Halloween tricks, frothy pumpkin lattes, and some very special baked goods, for three Moonbright residents looking for love—whether they know it or not—the spookiest thing will be how magical romance can suddenly be…
Praise For The Cottage On Pumpkin And Vine
“This wonderful, well-written collection calls to mind brisk autumn nights cuddled with a loved one.” –Publishers Weekly
“This diverse trio of stories bring three couples to love with a charming, slightly sexy Halloween flair . . . Sassy, funny, and dusted with magic.” —Library Journal
“Delightful and spicy. . . . With humor and a little mysticism thrown in, each story winds its way to a happy ever after. Every pairing comes to fruition in a unique way.” –RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
Includes cookie recipes!