Galaktoboureko Recipe

Reader Lisa, a pastry student in Greece, was kind enough to forward this recipe along to me. I’ve made a few modifications to make it easier for home cooks here in the English-speaking world, I trust that won’t offend. Here’s what you’ll need:

For the Syrup

1 recipe of heavy syrup, simmered with a fat strip of lemon zest, cooled, then 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract added. Make this the night before.

For the Custard

2 lbs. 3.25 ounces (1 quart plus 1/2 cup) whole milk
7.75 ounces (1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2.5 ounces (1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons) Cream of Wheat
.75 ounces (3 tablespoons) cornstarch (corn flour)
.75 ounces (1 1/2 tablespoons) butter

Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and yolks until well combined. Add the semolina and cornstarch to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.

When the milk mixture is at a rolling boil, pour a little into the egg mixture, whisk, then add more hot milk until you’ve added about 3/4 of the milk. Pour everything back into the saucepan. Continue whisking, taking care that the bottom doesn’t burn, until the custard reaches a low boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat, whisk in the butter and leave the custard to cool completely before using (better still, spread it in a shallow dish to help it cool faster). You may cover it with plastic wrap or paint on a little extra butter to prevent a skin from forming.

To Assemble

9 ounces filo sheets (about 14)
8 ounces butter (in Greece half of the butter is “galaktos” butter made with a mix of sheep and goat’s milk)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gently melt the butter and brush a 9″ x 12″ baking dish well. Put in the first sheet of fyllo, brush it well with butter, then the second, brushing well, until you have 7 sheets layered in. Be generous with the butter which is the only way for the fyllo to get nice and crispy (her words, not mine). Make sure the sides of the pan are covered so the custard won’t leak out.

Add in the custard and smooth the top. Then lay on the rest of the 7 sheets of filo, brushing them amply with butter as before. Gently tuck the filo sheets in along the sides to enclose the custard. Score the surface in a cross-hatch pattern with a sharp knife. Spritz the top with water and bake it for 50 minutes. Do not remove from the oven unless it has a deeeeep golden (almost brown) color.

Remove the pastry from the oven and let it sit for 1-2 minutes before you start applying the syrup. Use a ladle to pour enough cold syrup over the whole surface of the hot galaktompoureko, but not so much that you “drown it”.

Allow the pastry to absorb the syrup before applying more. Continue on in this way until the pastry can’t absorb any more (know this point by checking the sides, they should be wet when you pull them away from the walls of the dish). You may not need all the syrup.

Allow the finished galaktoboureko to cool. It may be eaten immediately dusted with cinnamon, but it is even better the next day. Store it in the refrigerator.

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12 Responses to Galaktoboureko Recipe

  1. Anna says:

    Half a cup of durum is 2.5 oz.?

  2. Rosanne says:

    This recipe is similar to my mother’s recipe, which she modified from her cooking bible, The Joy of Greek Cooking. The main differences are that she uses farina and not semolina or corn starch /flour. Galaktobureko has always been one of my favorite desserts and I’ll be trying this one in the future. How deep is the filling layer?

    • joepastry says:

      I’ll let you know when I find out, Rosanne! ;)

      Thanks for the email — and stay tuned. This should make for an interesting experiment all the way around.

      - Joe

  3. Hagar says:

    Hi! For the filling, are semolina and durum the same thing?

    • joepastry says:

      They are the same grain, but two different grinds. What we know as semolina in the States is a coarse grind, Durum is a fine, flour-like grind (which is what you want for this).

      Thanks for the question Hagar!

      - J

  4. Ann P. says:

    This sounds absolutely divine! How awesome that the recipe came from a bona fide Greek pastry student, tested and perfected by Joe.

    Does Galaktos tastes any different than cow’s milk butter? If it does, any idea where you might find some? My first instinct would be Whole Foods or maybe a specialty Greek grocery…

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Ann! Don’t speak too soon. The source may be bona fide, but the execution remains to be seen. Gonna start today.

      As for the butter, I’ve never tried any so I’m really not sure. However you can find goat or sheep’s butter at health food stores, and maybe whole foods as well. I’m going to search around to see what I can find.

      - Joe

  5. linda says:

    I have made this many times, I use cream of wheat, I also make individual “purses” with a frilly top, I will try it in 1 dish but the recipe stays!

    • joepastry says:

      Oooh — FABULOUS suggestion! Cream of Wheat is made from durum, and it’s probably the exact grind that I need for this!

      Thanks so much for the comment!

      - Joe

  6. Ann says:

    We’re having a Greek dinner with friends next month and this looks like a fun recipe to try. I would like some Cream of Wheat clarification, though, since there are four types available, instant, 1 minute, 2 1/2 minute and 10 minute. I’m pretty sure you did NOT use the 10 minute, but which of the others did you use, or does it matter? Thanks !

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Ann!

      Good point. In fact I did not use the 10 minute, nor the instant. The 2 1/2 minute was the winner.

      Thanks for the excellent question!

      - Joe

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