Have you ever felt a sudden craving for something sweet, juicy, that melts under your hungry palate? I know I have many times. And what do I do? I run to the corner Greek pastry shop and buy me a gigantic piece of Galaktoboureko.
Literally, this Greek oven-baked dessert has saved my life so many times. This recipe was carried in the suitcase of the Greek immigrants who fled to Greece from all over the Asia Minor (Constantinople, Smyrna, Pontus etc) around 1922 and it combines a French touch of delicacy with the Middle Eastern syrup “blanket”. It may not be the easiest dessert to make but I believe it’s worth the effort. Good luck.
FOR THE CREAM:
2.8 litres of fresh milk (12 cups)
3 cups sugar
1 ½ cup of fine semolina
3 tbsp of butter (unsalted)
2 vanilla sticks (or vanilla powder capsules)
1 packet of Fillo
FOR THE SYRUP:
3 ½ cups of sugar
2 ½ cups of water
1 lemon peel
1 tsp of lemon juice
In a large pot, boil the milk. Then add the semolina and stir well with a wooden spoon until it is well integrated into the milk. Take it off the heat.
In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and then add the vanilla.
When the milk-semolina mix is not hot anymore, slowly pour in the eggs by mixing continuously. You may feel tired but do not stop mixing to prevent the eggs from frying.
Then add the butter and blend again. When ready, put aside.
Open the fillo package. Butter well the surface of your baking pan and start by placing half the fillo sheets. Make sure you butter every single fillo sheet before putting the other.
So, if the package has 8 sheets, you place the 4 ones at the bottom and then pour over your cream.
Then start covering with the rest sheets always buttering each one.
Butter the last sheet on the surface and sprinkle with a few drops of water.
Using a sharp knife, gently score the surface of your Galaktobouriko to let it cook all the way down.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 45 minutes.
You may check your Galaktoboureko by sticking a knife into the cream to see if the cream is ready. If the knife comes out covered with the cream, you may want to cook it for another 15-20 minutes. Then try again until the knife comes out clean. Take it out of the oven.
Now for the syrup:
Put all ingredients into a pot and boil for 8 minutes.
When ready, pour the syrup over your Galaktoboureko little by little.
The cream will quickly absorb the hot syrup leaving room for more.
Then go ahead and empty the whole pot of syrup. Your dessert will be bathed in the syrup.
Leave the Galaktoboureko aside to cool down and then cut into pieces and serve.
A traditional Galaktoboureko that remains true to itself is always “bathed” in its syrup. There is no time to feel guilty, so stop counting those calories.
Written by: Maria Boutsi