Galaktoboúreko is a Greek dessert, probably the most popular in the country, often served at feasts, such as birthdays, name days, Christmas etc.
It has almost all the elements that characterize Greek pastry, which means that it is a syrup based dessert made with phyllo sheets. Yet what makes it unique and tremendously popular is the wonderful luscious custard cream that is spread between the layers of the phyllo sheets drenched with abundant lemon flavored syrup.
Here’s the recipe:
½ kilo phyllo sheets (about 12-16 sheets)
250 gr melted butter (in order to brush the sheets)
For the cream:
6 cups whole fat milk
6 egg yolks
1-1 ¼ cups fine semolina
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup caster sugar
The rind of a lemon
Make the cream:
In a bowl beat well the egg yolks with the sugar (use a whisk).
In a saucepan heat the milk until boiling point. Add the semolina and stir with a whisk. Lower the heat. Gently ladle a cup of milk in the yolks- sugar mixture and stir well. Add the mixture to the saucepan and continue to cook over medium low heat until the cream starts to thicken, stirring continuously. When the cream is ready add the vanilla extract, the butter, stir well and let aside.
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.
Open the phyllo package right before using it so the sheets do not get too dry. Melt the butter. With the help of a pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of a 22 x 30 rectangular oven pan. You will use half of the phyllo sheets for the bottom. Begin by layering the sheets one by one, making sure to brush each one thoroughly with melted butter. Lightly press the sheets into the sides and corner and let the edges hang over the top (they will be folded over later). Add the custard in an even layer- the cream will have slightly cooled by now. Layer the remaining sheets of phyllo on top of the custard as you did the bottom, continuing to brush melted butter between layers until you have used all the phyllo, except one sheet. Brush butter on the overlapping sides and roll the edges in order to create a rim. Brush thoroughly the top and the edge with the rest of the butter. Cover with the sheet that has been left- it will be used as a protector during baking. Bake until golden brown all over, 30 to 45 minutes. The protector sheet will become dry and dark brown. After baking, take it off and dispose of it.
In the meantime, make the syrup. Bring the sugar, water and lemon rind to a boil in a small saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes then remove from the heat. Set aside.
Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for at least 15 minutes. Gently and evenly pour the syrup over the entire pie. Let the pie sit for an hour before serving so the syrup can be absorbed. Best served the same day but it can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.