Time for something sweet. Galaktoboureko is a Greek classic and undoubtedly the star of many family gatherings! It’s a traditional Greek dessert of rich cream enveloped in crusty filo, sweetened by a light and fragrant syrup.
I went straight to grandma Nia for this Galaktoboureko recipe, as I do for many of the classics. I love the simplicity of her cooking, she’s full of practical tips and abstract measurements: you add a bit of this, double that, bring to the boil, slow bake. And she can casually recite all the ingredients of any dish I mention, with pauses as she knows I am jotting everything down! Then Grandma Nia will go over them once more, adding something small, perhaps an extra tip and double-checking – did I tell you about this seasoning and that ingredient? I can tell she is silently repeating to herself the innumerable times she has made a recipe. She has more than one version for every dish and is an inspiration for the joy of cooking by instinct and experience alone.
So here is the recipe for her mighty Galaktoboureko.
- 500 gr filo pastry
- 150 gr of fresh butter
For the cream
- 2 lt of milk
- 10 eggs (4 whole and 6 for their yolks)
- 200 gr of semolina flour
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 200 gr caster sugar
For the syrup
- 500 gr caster sugar
- 500 ml water
- 1 orange peel
- 1 lemon for its juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
What to do
The cream for Galaktoboureko
Warm up the milk and add in the sugar on a low heat. Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks. Add in the semolina flour and vanilla extract and blend some more with the egg beater.
Now it’s time to mix the two: take a mug full of your warm milk and add in the egg mixture slowly. Then transfer the contents of your bowl to the warm pot that contains the milk and sugar. Stir well and keep at it until your cream is set. Remove from the heat and add two spoonfuls of butter. Your cream is done!
Layering the tray
As I mentioned earlier Galaktoboureko is probably the Greek version of millefeuille, so grab your filo and melt your butter.
First separate the filo pastry into 2 batches. You should have at least 9-10 sheets for the bottom layer and 5-6 for the top. So roughly make a batch with 2/3 of your filo and then 1/3 for the top. Be careful to keep the pastry covered as you work because it tends to dry quickly and break.
Depending on what tray you use aim to leave some excess on all sides equally. If you have a round tray, lay them clockwise, slightly overlapping. If you have a rectangular tray, have the filo sheets overlapping in the middle and leave the excess spilling over equally to every side of your tray.
Hands on now
Melt your butter and grab a brush. Start with buttering your tray and then add your first filo pastry. For the bottom you will need approximately 9 sheets, each one individually buttered. Don’t be alarmed if your filo is hanging outside the tray, this is what you need. So continue buttering each sheet until you use up your first batch.
Once you have buttered the filo pastry it’s time to add the cream. With the cream nicely smoothed, gently turn the excess filo back in over the custard to cover all the sides.
Now for the rest of your filo sheets, fold them to fit your dish and place each one on top with the folds facing down. Remember to apply some more buttery goodness to each sheet and you are ready to bake!
Bake at 180oC for a approximately an hour, until the top is golden.
For the syrup
This is a light syrup and it’s rather simple to prepare. Add the sugar, water, orange peel and cinnamon stick to a pan and mix as you bring it to the boil. Let it boil for approximately 8 minutes and you are done.
Now for syruping. There is a simple rule one should always follow: either the syrup should be hot and the pastry cold or vice versa. I will let you experiment, because more often than not this will depend on how much time you have on your hands!
Note: extremely morish, to be enjoyed with company!by