The agony I went through to get this right is indescribable but I’m going to try my best.
So, I’ve discovered that I do not like semolina. The problem with this is that nearly all recipes I had come across has this ingredient in galatoboureko but apparently my grandmother doesn’t include this in hers and it’s the best. This would’ve been good to know five attempts earlier.
First attempt, I made scrambled eggs wrapped in phyllo pastry drizzled with lemon and cinnamon syrup. Apart from going through the agony and stress of trying to get this right, I had to get this right for my best friend Maria, as she came down from Kent and I was to send this back to her family to try.
I know what you’re going to say ....where has this new found confidence come from? Honestly, I have no idea. The feedback was that the custard was hard and eggy, I think that was the polite way to say ‘Jo it was shit’. Complete and utter disaster, I came to that conclusion just by the texture alone.
So I decided to make this again, this time for my family. I made a few tweaks and amendments and again wanted to stick to the traditional ingredients including semolina. Feedback was, eggy and the texture wasn’t quite right. Apparently it wasn’t melting in their mouths....
Third attempt, ok, everyone is saying it’s eggy. I know! One less egg! This can’t go wrong ....straight in the bin.
Ok, me ‘Yiayia I need your help! I don’t like semolina, the eggs are too much, I can’t do this! I made scrambled eggs in syrup and gave it to my best friend!’
Yiayia (my gran) ‘Pahahahahaha ....it’s easy Yianna mou, whisk the eggs with the cornflour gradually and slowly add the egg mix to the lukewarm milk and sugar’
Me ‘ok Yiayia, measures please?
Yiayia ‘now you’re asking ....you just know’ (please refer to fakes!)
I now have to pull out the big guns, I message my cousin Raf who is a leading pastry chef in a prestigious hotel in Limassol. Did I mention that she provides an independent cake baking service? Yes, this is the standard I’m up against. With my tail between my legs ....’ Raf, I need you girl’
She hands me over the recipe and with tears in my eyes I head to the only place I found that sells the pastry sheets and buy all the ingredients again. I head home to make this again and hopefully for the last time.
With a deep breath I place the sugar and milk on the hob .... it’s curdling, what have I done wrong now?!
Me ‘mum, why is the milk curdling?’
Mum ‘the milk is off’
Mum ‘yes, the only reason the milk will curdle is if it’s off’
Remember the tears of relief in my eyes, they’ve now escaped and become tears of frustration, I just can’t take it anymore. I head to Sainsbury’s to buy more milk. The end result was near perfect, I forgot to add vanilla into my cream in my distressed state but I’m nearly there!
Eventually, I nailed it! I made this one final time for my niece Sofia’s 1st birthday on 17th June 2021. I swore never to make this ever again, I have since made it for my sister El to take to a dinner party and again today for my grandmothers 1 year memorial. I can now make this in 25 minutes flat!
450g Filo Pastry (12 sheets)
1 Litre Full Fat Milk
3 Large Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Lemon Peel
1 Cinnamon Stick
10 Drops Lemon Juice
Step 1 - Syrup
Start by making the syrup as this needs to be set aside. Place all the ingredients into a saucepan bringing everything to boil. Allow to boil until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the stove and allow to cool down completely. This can also be done the evening before.
Step 2 - Custard
Pre heat oven 160C
Place the sugar and milk in a large saucepan but do not stir. Bring the milk to lukewarm in temperature on a medium heat then lower the heat completely as to not over heat.
In the meantime, beat the eggs. Gradually add the cornflour ensuring the mix is beaten well.
By this point, the milk should now be lukewarm. Here’s the tricky part! You must bring the egg mix to the same temperature as the milk otherwise the eggs will curdle! With a large soup spoon, slowly add milk to the egg mix continuously whisking. Do this with approximately 3 spoon doses and check the temperature. If the temperature is the same as the milk, with a hand held whisk, add the eggs to the milk and sugar.
Increase the heat to medium and continuously whisk the mixture until it boils and bubbles begin to form. The custard is now ready, cover with cling film ensuring no air bubbles are trapped and set aside.
Melt the butter on a low heat and butter the bottom and sides of your baking tray.
Use 6 sheets of phyllo for the base and drizzle butter between each sheet. Begin with two sheets each being placed half way from the base up so the other half is hanging over the sides. Do the same with the sides and the other two sheets, folded in half, at the base of the tray. See photos below for example.
Tip the custard in and fold in each of the exposed phyllo, drizzling butter between each fold.
Six sheets remaining will be placed one by one on top of the galatoboureko, drizzling each layer with butter.
Pour the remaining butter over the entire tray and place in the oven for 45-60 minutes.
Once your galatoboureko is crisp and golden, remove from the oven and pour over the cold syrup.
Leave this to stand for 45 minutes before serving.
You can make the syrup the night before as this needs to be cool for the final touch.
Do not stir the milk and sugar, this is to help prevent the milk from burning on the base.
Be quick with the phyllo otherwise it will dry out and begin to crack.
Sprinkle butter instead of brushing butter onto phyllo sheets as this will make the phyllo crispy.
Costing under £10 for a tray size , 27cm x 36cm, will give you 12 large pieces
Half the measures for half the cost and half the tray size.