This is one of those fabulous Greek recipes using phyllo that can be a bit daunting with its many steps. But crossing the finish line to a golden crispy dessert layered with golden brown phyllo and filled with a creamy custard, all bathed in a lovely lemon syrup makes it all worthwhile. Bliss on a fork!
A TRADITIONAL STUNNER!
The recipe for a traditional Galaktoboureko uses semolina to the achieve the grainy texture of the custard and is perfect when the mixture is smooth and tight.
This recipe departs from most recipes in that the eggs are beaten into meringues and are folded into the semolina based cream mixture. I picked up some great tips like this one from Eli Giannopoulos at his wonderful website called My Greek Dish.
In the past, I added my eggs whole toward the end of the recipe, but when I read this tip, I thought it was worth a try. It does add more complexity to the recipe, but since you have so many dirty bowls already, I figured whisking some whites up in my beloved KitchenAid wasn’t too much to ask.
MAKING THE MERINGUE
Let’s take a moment to review the basics when it comes to meringues. You must make sure all the supplies are clean and dry before you begin. Water and oil are the enemies of a perfectly whipped batch of egg whites. It is also very helpful if the eggs are at room temperature, as cold whites don’t produce as much volume when whipped.
When you start to combine the meringue with the yolk mixture, you want to use your rubber spatula and take a large dollop (about 1/4 of the meringue) and plop it on top of the yolks. Then gently slice down into the mixture with your spatula and pull it back toward you and then upwards with a twist of your wrist.
You want to gently fold the whites into the yolks. Less is more here, so only use about 5-6 strokes before adding the next batch of whites. Don’t worry if there are still streaks of white in the final mixture, it’s more important that you don’t deflate your meringues while folding them into the yolks.
MAKE THE LEMON SYRUP AHEAD OF TIME
I prepared the lemon syrup about a week before I made this recipe. It’s one of the do-ahead items on my Greek Dinner Party menu that helps save time on the day you prepare your pie.
When making any sugar based syrup, you don’t want to stir the mixture while it’s boiling. Let the sugar dissolve in the water and let it come to a slow boil. If you absolutely need to stir, STOP, but you can gently swirl the pan if you absolutely have to.
Here are some basics to help guide you through your preparations:
- Using a high quality butter is a must in this dessert;
- To get crispier and flakier phyllo, sprinkle the melted butter over the sheets instead of brushing it on;
- When working with phyllo, always keep your unused stack under a lightly moistened kitchen towel to stay supple;
- Add semolina slowly to the warm milk to avoid forming lumps;
- IMPORTANT: Your lemon syrup must be room-temperature, and your custard pie VERY HOT when you are pouring the syrup over the baked pie.
THANKS GOODNESS IT MAKE LOTS OF SERVINGS!
I used a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish for this dessert, so I will plan to serve the custard pie as a plated dessert with the Turkish coffee at the end of our Greek Dinner Party. Garnishing the dessert plate with a nice slice of preserved lemon and a sprig of mint would be lovely.
GET EVERYTHING READY- MIS EN PLACE
Read the recipe and tips thoroughly again on the day you prepare the pie. Make sure you have all your supplies and ingredients ready to roll.
This might be a good time to talk about “mis en place”, or everything in its place. This means that before you start a recipe, you gather all the necessary ingredients and supplies in order to work through the recipe without having to hunt down that M.I.A. spatula that you need, right now.
Having the steps fresh in your head and everything you need on hand will make the process progress smoothly. You’ve got this, let’s get started!
Come join the gang in our Facebook group and get in on the gabfest at, The Fab Life, where we show off our triumphs and share our pursuit of “the good life” with each other all week long.
Don’t forget to sign up for your twice weekly visits from Ingredients For A Fabulous Life. You don’t want to miss out on something fabulous, do you? Use the form on the right of this page to start receiving our fabulous posts and newsletter today! We can’t wait for you to become a member of our community!
- 14 oz. phyllo dough (9-10 sheets)
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 6 oz. semolina (by weight)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 1/4 cups milk
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 Tbs. butter
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (keep pod)
- 2 1/4 cups half & half
- LEMON SYRUP
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 Tbs. honey
- 1 Tbs. lemon zest (heaping)
- Prepare the syrup; this can be done several days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
- In a medium saucepan, combine water, sugar and lemon zest. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Let simmer slowly for 5 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved completely. Remove pan from heat, add honey and stir to combine. Cool, store in tightly sealed mason jar.
- Gather all the ingredients and supplies necessary. (mis en place)
- Start the custard by placing the 4 separated egg whites with 2 Tbs. sugar in a mixing bowl. (I use my KitchenAid) Beat the egg white mixture until they are thick and glossy and sugar is completely dissolved. The finished meringue should form soft peaks when the beater is lifted.
- In a second large bowl, add the 4 yolks and 2 Tbs. of sugar. Beat the yolk mixture for several minutes or until they are thick and foamy. (Make sure beaters are clean)
- In a large saucepan, combine the milk, half & half, remaining sugar and the vanilla pod and black seeds you scraped out.
- Cook the milk mixture over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove the vanilla pod.
- With milk mixture gently simmering, SLOWLY whisk in the semolina. Continue whisking until the mixture is thick and creamy. Remove from the heat and whisk in the 1 1/2 Tbs. of butter. Cool for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally to help dissipate the heat faster.
- Gently fold together the egg mixture and the semolina. Set aside.
- Remove phyllo from wrapper, unfold and place under a slightly moistened kitchen towel.
- Preheat oven to 325 F degrees, and place rack in center of oven.
- Using the melted butter, brush bottom and sides of a 9"x13" glass baking dish.
- Making sure to sprinkle each sheet with butter before putting the next sheet into position, layer 2 sheets of phyllo so they extend half in-half out on each long side of dish for a total of 4 sheets. Place a 5th sheet on top in the middle of pan and sprinkle on some butter.
- Pour in the custard mixture and smooth with a spatula. Fold the hanging phyllo sheets up and over the custard.
- Layer 5 more phyllo sheets on top, making sure to sprinkle each sheet with butter. Clean up your edges by folding them under if necessary.
- Brush the top thoroughly with butter and using a small sharp knife, gently score the top into serving sized pieces.
- Bake for 60-75 minutes, until top is crisp and golden.
- Remove pan from oven, and while still hot, slowly ladle the room-temperature syrup over the pie, allowing each addition to absorb before adding more. You want to make sure it is completely permeated with syrup, but not soaked.
- You won't need all the syrup, store remainder in refrigerator up to 1 month.