450g phyllo pastry (14 oz./ 12 sheets)
230g butter (8 oz.)
For the Custard
160g finely ground (thin) semolina (6 oz.)
220g sugar (7.5 oz.)
500g milk (17.6 oz.)
4 eggs (separated into whites and yolks)
30g butter (1 oz.)
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g double (heavy) cream (17.6 oz)
So lets start with preparing the phyllo! Firstly, use the right butter! To get the most flavourful Galaktoboureko use a good quality fresh butter to cover the phyllo sheets. The authentic Greek Galaktoboureko recipe calls for ‘galaktos’ butter made from a mix of sheep’s and cow’s milk, but if you can’t handle it’s very strong flavor or simply can’t find it at your local store, then you can substitute with good quality fresh butter from cow’s milk.
Secondly a little trick to make the phyllo crispier and flakier is to sprinkle the melted butter over the phyllo sheets, rather than brushing them.
Be quick! Working with phyllo can be tricky as it is brittle and can dry out very quickly.
Clarified butter! Sometimes when baking the galaktoboureko some black spots will appear on the top. These are the milk solids caramelizing in the oven. If you want to avoid that then just use clarified butter or ghee.
Prepare the Galaktoboureko custard
Traditionally, Greek Galaktoboureko uses use thin semolina to achieve the grainy texture that is the main characteristic of the cream. So don’t be alarmed if it is a bit grainy, this is intentional and will result in an amazing texture when you cut through it. So how to make your custard to perfection?
Make your egg whites into meringues and fold them in the galaktoboureko custard mixture. In most recipes, the eggs are added whole towards the end, but with this Galaktoboureko recipe the eggs are beaten into meringues and combined in the semolina based cream. This is the secret to a more fluffy and creamy custard and to avoid the egg-y smell, which can ruin the flavor of your Galaktoboureko.
Add the semolina slowly to the warm milk and whisk constantly to prevent it from forming lumps!
Make sure the mixture is cool when folding in your meringues so they don’t curdle. When preparing your custard you will be heating up your milk, sugar, vanilla and semolina to get the ingredients to combine and form a cream. Before folding in the meringues make sure the custard mixture has cooled down to 50C/120F or until warm to touch else your eggs may curdle!
Use some good quality cream! There are two ways to make galaktoboureko – some recipes call for full fat milk only and others a mix of cream and milk. After plenty of experimenting I’ve found that the best custard texture and flavor comes from using a good quality double/heavy (35%+ in fat) cream. This will make your custard filling silky smooth and will taste simply divine!
Prepare the syrup for the Galaktoboureko
To achieve the perfect syrup consistency for your Galaktoboureko, you should never blend or stir the syrup while it is boiling. Just let the sugar dissolve in the boiling water, remove it from the stove and then add your honey. Honey helps the syrup not to crystallize, gives extra flavor and makes it nice and thick.
To achieve the perfect Galaktoboureko you want your phyllo to remain crispy while all the syrup has soaked through. To accomplish this make sure that the syrup is cold and your Galaktoboureko is really hot. So prepare your syrup first to give it plenty of time to cool down! Also ladle the cold syrup slowly over the hot Galaktoboureko and wait for each ladle to be absorbed fully. That way the syrup is absorbed evenly and throughout your filling.
Finally, I know, even though it will be really hard to do, you should wait for the Galaktoboureko to cool down before cutting into it! Make sure you don’t cover the galaktoboureko while it is still warm to prevent the steam from getting trapped. Steam will turn your phyllo soggy! Just leave it uncovered on the counter for an hour or so until it's cool to the touch.
So go ahead, give this traditional Galaktoboureko recipe a try and amaze your friends and family!
1. To make this Galaktoboureko recipe, start by preparing the syrup. Into a small pan add the sugar, the water and lemon peel, cinnamon stick and lemon and bring to the boil. Let it boil just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the stove, add the honey and stir. Leave the syrup aside to cool completely.
2. Prepare the custard for the Galaktoboureko (steps 3-8).
3. Pour into a saucepan the milk, the cream and 120g of the sugar, and bring to the boil. (Don’t whisk the mixture. The sugar at the bottom of the pan protects the milk from burning.) As soon as it comes to the boil and heats up slowly add the semolina and the vanilla extract, whilst whisking. Turn the heat down to medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture becomes creamy. Remove the pan from the stove, add a knob of butter and fold. Let it cool down while you are preparing the remaining steps, until warm (50c / 120F), else your mix will curdle when you fold in the eggs. Just remember to whisk it once in a while.
4. Divide the eggs into yolks and whites. In most traditional Greek recipes, the eggs are added whole towards the end, but with this Galaktoboureko recipe the eggs are beaten into meringues and combined in the semolina based cream. This is the secret to a more fluffy and creamy custard and to avoid the egg-y smell, which can ruin the flavor of your Galaktoboureko.
5. Place the egg whites and 50g sugar in a mixing bowl. Make sure your egg whites, bowl and whisk attachment/s are free of any water. Use an electric mixer or electric hand beaters to whisk the egg whites and sugar until the mixture is very thick and glossy, all the sugar has dissolved and a long trailing peak forms when the whisk is lifted (meringues). Set aside.
6. In another bowl, whisk the yolks and 50g of sugar, until the mixture is thick and foamy. This should take about 5 minutes.
7. With a spatula add 1/4 of the meringues into the egg yolks-sugar mixture and blend with light circular movement from the bottom up. Gradually add all the meringues into the mixture and fold.
8. Fold together the two mixtures, from step 3 and step 7 and set aside.
9. For this Galaktoboureko recipe, you need a large baking tray, approx. 25x32cm. Melt 230g of butter (low heat) and butter the bottom and sides of the tray. Remove the phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. You will use 6 sheets of phyllo for the bottom of the Galaktoboureko.
10. Begin by layering the sheets one by one on the bottom of the tray, making sure to sprinkle each one thoroughly with melted butter. Layer four sheets of phyllo so that they extend half in the pan and half out of the pan horizontally and vertically and two more in the middle.
11. Tip in the custard, smoothing the surface with a spatula and fold the phyllo sheet flaps over the custard. Sprinkle it with melted butter.
12. Add 6 sheets on top, sprinkling each sheet with melted butter. With a knife, trim some of the excessive phyllo and use your pastry brush to help you turn the phyllo inwards, towards the bottom of the pan to seal the galaktoboureko.
13. Scar the top of the Galaktoboureko in pieces with a sharp knife. Cut down until the knife reaches the cream.
14. Pour over the remaining butter. Sprinkle with a little bit of water.
15. Bake in a preheated oven at 160C for 60 to 75 minutes until the phyllo is crisp and golden.
16. As soon as the Galaktoboureko is ready, ladle slowly the cold syrup over the pastry. (Hot galaktoboureko, cold syrup)
17. Serve after the syrup is absorbed. Enjoy!