Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Holiday memories! Galaktoboureko

I cannot help but associate food with memory, whether that be times with family and friends, places I have visited or that secret chocolate cake (or something) that you bought and ate on the sly, without any help from anyone else. Thinking of holidays, last year's visit to Crete has inspired my cooking for quite a lot of this year and I was pleased to find this recipe in Vefa's Kitchen by Vefa Alexiadou. It was something very similar to this recipe that I ate my own body weight of whilst I was on holiday. It was called 'Bougatsa' then and whilst I am sure this is not the 'real' Bougatsa, this does provide the same delicious, tooth achingly sweet combination of crisp filo and smooth vanilla custard. I ate this for breakfast, lunch and dinner and if I broke the rules, I apologise. It was deliciously good.


1 1/2 pints milk

3 eggs and 2 egg yolks

3 1/2 oz caster sugar

2 1/2 oz fine semolina

A vanilla pod

1 8oz packet filo pastry

4 fl oz  unsalted butter, melted.

For the syrup:

11oz caster sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

8oz water

1 tsp vanilla extract, or rosewater.

Boil the milk in a saucepan with a split vanilla pod. Once boiled, take off the heat, and leave to cool and for the vanilla to infuse. (You could use vanilla extract but I love little black vanilla flecks in custard and so acted accordingly)

Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer till light and creamy (or use a whisk if you are feeling energetic)

Add the semolina and mix well.

Now you are going to combine the two mixtures together. Because of my nervous disposition, I add a ladle of the milk and vanilla mixture to raise the temperature of the egg mixture slightly. Scrambled egg at this point is not what I want. When the egg mixture is slightly looser than it was, I add it slowly to the milk mixture, stirring constantly. Cook the mixture stirring, over low heat, to maintain a smooth textured cream, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat, remove the vanilla pod and add 4 tablespoons of the butter.

Grease a large rectangular dish or baking tin with some of the melted butter. I use my brownie tin.

If you are a filo 'virgin', then make note of a key instruction. Filo dries out very quickly and so keep all the sheets of filo you are not using under a damp, clean tea towel or cloth.

Place one sheet of filo at a time into the dish, buttering each one with melted butter. Patch where necessary if your sheet is not big enough to cover the bottom of the dish. You are aiming to use half the pastry (about six sheets) in the base of the dish.

Pour in the custard and spread it evenly over the pastry.

Continue placing the remaining filo sheets on top of the custard, brushing each one with the melted butter. Brush the surface with melted butter and sprinkle with some drops of warm water to prevent the filo from curling up while baking. At this point cut the pastry into squares or diamonds, as it will be nigh on impossible to do so once it is cooked.

Bake in a 180º C pre-heated oven for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 160ºC and bake for about 35 minutes longer until the top is golden brown.

To make the syrup, put the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it boil until the syrup appears to thicken. Don't let it colour significantly.

 Ladle or pour the syrup slowly over the pastry as soon as you remove it from the oven.

Allow it to absorb the syrup and cool slightly.


You can serve warm or cold. Keep any leftovers in the fridge. Nice for breakfast!

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