Greek Custard Pie is one of those fabulous Greek recipes using phyllo that can be a bit daunting with its many steps.
GREEK CUSTARD PIE (GALAKTOBOUREKO)
But crossing the finish line to a crispy dessert like a Greek Custard Pie, or Galaktoboureko makes it all worthwhile. It’s bliss on a fork!
The recipe for a traditional Galaktoboureko uses semolina to achieve the grainy texture of the custard. But this recipe departs from most recipes in that the eggs are beaten into meringues. Then they’re folded into the semolina based cream mixture. You’ll know the custard is perfect when it’s tight and smooth in texture.
GREEK CUSTARD PIE – What an Expert Says…
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 the above referenced tip, I thought it was worth a try. Making a meringue does add some complexity to the recipe. But since you already have dirty bowls, I figured whisking some whites wasn’t too much to ask.
Okay, let’s make some meringue!
HOW TO MAKE A 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.
- Start with room temperature eggs, 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.
- Now 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.
BE SURE TO 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 Greek Custard 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 feel the need to stir, JUST STOP. But, you can gently swirl the pan if you absolutely have to.
One lovely benefit of making a batch of Lemon Syrup? While I was at it, I candied some lemon slices in the syrup just for fun! I think I’ll use them to garnish a fabulous LEMON POWDER POUND CAKE!
LET’S GO THROUGH THE BASICS OF THE RECIPE – Greek Custard Pie
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 the evening. Garnishing the dessert plate with a nice slice of preserved lemon and a sprig of mint would be lovely. Or how about rose buds…
GET EVERYTHING READY- MISE 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 “mise 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!
The printable recipe card is at the bottom of this post.
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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
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. (mise 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.
Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 786Total Fat 27gSaturated Fat 16gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 132mgSodium 385mgCarbohydrates 130gFiber 1gSugar 96gProtein 10g
Calorie and nutritional information will vary with amount of ingredients used in your Greek Custard Pie.