Galaktoboureko is a Greek dessert; basically, it’s a pastry-covered custard drenched in flavoured syrup. Best served warm when the pastry is still crisp and the custard just set, galaktoboureko is a great dessert for a large crowd. The baking dish full of rich dessert can easily serve 12-15 people. Although it is tastiest when fresh and warm, you can make galaktoboureko a day in advance and store, covered, in the refrigerator. Try warming it in a low oven before serving, though.
Our mom loves Greece and she requested that I make this for a Greek feast to set off the August long weekend. The galaktoboureko was the finishing dish of the feast, following a tasty pastitsio, grilled sardines, grilled lamb chops, and Greek salad. We washed down the meal with retsina and ouzo.
Despite the soaking syrup, galaktoboureko is not overly sweet. I was tempted to take it in a more Middle Eastern or Persian direction by adding a teaspoon of rosewater and a 1/4 tsp of ground cardamom to the custard, but I resisted. This time.
The Taste of the Danforth, Canada’s largest street festival, took over a stretch of the Danforth this weekend. This dessert more than makes up for missing the souvlaki, quail, loukoumades, baklava, and crowds at the festival.
- For the Syrup:
- 1 medium lemon
- 1½ cups sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- For the Cake:
- ¼ cup semolina
- 1½ cups sugar
- ¼ cup corn starch
- 6 eggs
- 1 tsp grated lemon rind
- 1 L milk (2%)
- ½ cup semolina, extra
- 14 sheets filo pastry
- ½ cup butter, melted
- Place sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until dissolved.
- Thinly peel the rind from half the lemon and add to the pan along with the cinnamon stick. Simmer the mixture and cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Remove and discard lemon rind and cinnamon.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Combine ¼ cup semolina, sugar, corn starch, eggs, and lemon rind in a large bowl. Whisk until well blended.
- Meanwhile, bring milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and let cook slightly (about 1 minute).
- Gradually whisk hot milk into egg mixture. Return mixture to the saucepan.
- Stir custard over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. Gradually sprinkle in remaining ½ cup semolina, stirring continuously. Continue to heat, without boiling, until mixture is thick. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Lightly grease a 9" x 13" dish.
- Cover filo pastry with a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out while you're working.
- Brush a sheet of filo pastry with butter, place into dish so that the edges slightly hang over the sides. Repeat with six more pastry sheets and butter, allowing dough to hang over sides of dish.
- Pour custard into the pastry bottom and smooth the top. Layer remaining seven sheets of filo dough, with butter, over top of custard, allowing edges to have over sides. Once all pastry is used up, fold hanging edges over inside of the dish to enclose the custard filling.
- Brush top and edges with remaining melted butter.
- Using a sharp paring knife, score filo diagonally, cutting through only one or two sheets of pastry.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned and custard is set.
- Pour cooled syrup over the hot cake and let cool.
- Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Store, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to three days.