While these days most Greek pastry shops produce an array of treats inspired by French and American recipes, locals still harvest an undying love for the traditional “siropiasta” (syrup-drenched desserts). In this category you’ll find the famed baklava, the nutty karidopita (walnut cake), the seasonal melomakarona (honey cookies, made at Christmas), the zesty portokalopita (orange pie) and many other unique, but all equally super-sweet, treats. Even chocolate cakes are usually soaked in syrup in Greece.
One of our favorite siropiasta, which is as popular with kids as it is with adults, is the fluffy custard pie, galaktoboureko. We recommend trying this recipe when you’re expecting company, to avoid accidentally eating it all on your own in one sitting.
Tip: While the galaktoboureko is delicious when it’s still warm, it’s recommended that you let it rest overnight, for the syrup to stabilize in the pie.
Bring the sugar, water and glucose syrup to a boil, and cook for 4 minutes (counting from the moment it starts boiling). Remove from the heat and let cool for a bit. Add the lemon juice, and set aside to cool completely.
Heat the milk and butter in a pot over medium heat. While it’s heating, with a whisk, mix together the sugar, semolina, lemon zest and eggs in a bowl.
When the milk is just about to boil, remove the pot from the heat, and pour 1/3 of the milk and butter into bowl with the egg mixture. Mix well, and then add it all back into the pot and return to the heat. Cook, whisking vigorously, until the custard has thickened and starts to boil.
Remove the custard from the heat, pour it into a clean bowl, and cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap so it doesn’t form a “skin” as it cools.
Preheat your oven to 160º C.
Grease a 30x25cm baking pan with melted butter. Add a sheet of phyllo, letting the edges hang over the edge of the pan, and brush it with more butter. Repeat the process with half of the phyllo sheets.
Pour in your custard, and fold the phyllo edges over the top. Then cut the remaining phyllo sheets the size of your baking pan, and repeat the process of placing and buttering.
Score the top of the pie as you’ll cut the pieces, in squares, and bake for at least 1 hour, until the phyllo is golden.
Remove the galaktoboureko from the oven and, while it’s hot, pour the cold syrup over it, using a ladle.
Let rest overnight.
This recipe was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.
1 l fresh milk
200 g sugar
150 g fine semolina
50 g butter
1 tsp. lemon zest
for the phyllo:
12 phyllo dough sheets (usually 1 package)
250 g butter, melted
for the syrup:
500 g sugar
250 g water
50 ml glucose syrup
50 ml lemon juice