Traditional Greek Galaktoboureko

Galaktoboureko

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Galaktoboureko is one of those traditional Greek desserts that find its origins in other Middle Eastern countries as well. It has many variations. In Turkey, it is popularly known as Laz Boregi and has a different type of filling inside known as muhallebi. The assembling of this desert closely resembles that of Greek Baklava, although the latter has more phyllo sheets and a nutty filling.

If you have already aced in making loukoumades, and Melomakarona, then try this Greek pastry with custard too, to impress your guests. Just like Baklava, you require phyllo sheets and lots of butter to create this creamy indulgence. The trick is to create the best, creamy, and stringy semolina and egg custard which goes inside the crusts to form the filling. But with my easy-peasy recipe and video instructions, you will be able to pull off a classic Greek dessert with perfection.

Greek Galaktoboureko

Galaktoboureko Ingredients

For Custard

  • 2 medium-sized eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 80 g semolina
  • 50 g butter (for custard)
  • 125 g butter (to brush phyllo sheets)
  • 250 g heavy cream
  • 250 g whole milk
  • 225 g phyllo sheets
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla essence
  • 1 pinch salt

For sugar syrup

  • 400 g sugar
  • 225 ml water
  • 35 g honey
  • Lemon zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Ingredient Tips For Making The Best Galaktoboureko

Phyllo sheets

Phyllo sheets are the most critical ingredient and are too delicate to handle. If you are using a commercial pack of phyllo, I suggest looking for #4 phyllo. They are not too thin or thick and are relatively better in handling. Still, when you are separating the phyllo sheets, keep a kitchen cloth prepared and spread the sheet over it to prevent it from getting too dry or brittle.

Butter or ghee

Use unsweetened butter or ghee generously to glaze the phyllo sheets and make them crisp during baking. Butter is also used in the custard to bring out an extra creamy texture.

Semolina

Although eggs, milk, and butter make a great custard, the traditional greek recipe of Galaktoboureko uses semolina too. This brings out a grainy, sweet, and fulfilling custard filling to go inside the phyllo sheets. After adding semolina to the custard mixture, you need to keep it stirring because semolina tends to burn too soon.

Greek Galaktoboureko - custard preparation

Eggs

Eggs are required to prepare the custard. In some recipes, only egg whites are required, but I always use whole eggs and beat them so well that it forms a thin meringue. You need to carefully fold this in the custard mixture so that the air stays incorporated and gives a good texture during baking.

How to make Galaktoboureko?

Preparation of the custard

For the start, take a large mixing bowl and crack 4 eggs in it. I always use eggs with their yolks for this recipe because it makes custard thick and creamy. Pour half of the sugar as well and keep the remaining half for later use.

With the help of an electric beater, beat the eggs well so that a thin meringue is formed and the mixture becomes fluffy. Cover and set aside.

Greek Galaktoboureko - custard preparation

In a cooking pan, pour milk and heavy cream. Add salt and Mix in the remaining sugar. Place on medium-high heat. As soon as the mixture just starts bubbling, add semolina to it.

Cooking with semolina is a bit tricky because it tends to stick and become brown and burnt. Keep stirring until the mixture becomes thick. Check by raising the spoon. If it forms strings, the mixture is ready.

The next step is to add butter. The flame must be turned off while adding it because the butter also burns soon. Mix the butter well until it is incorporated.

Beat this prepared mixture with the help of an electric beater. Beat just for a while until the mixture cools down a little but stays a bit warm.

In this mixture, carefully fold the egg and sugar mixture you prepared. Fold it slowly and gently so that no air bubbles are broken and the mixture remains fluffy and airy at all times. These air bubbles will help create a soft custard filling during baking.

The custard filling is ready for assembly.

Greek Galaktoboureko - custard

Prepare the sugar syrup

In a pan, add water, sugar, lemon zest, and cinnamon stick and place on medium heat.

Allow it to cook for a while but be sure that the mixture remains translucent and does not become caramel colored.

Greek Galaktoboureko - syrup preparation

Keep stirring so that the sugar melts properly.

When done, turn off the flame and pour in the honey. Mix well until it is fully incorporated in the syrup.

Allow the syrup to cool down well.

Assemble the Galaktoboureko and bake

Before assembling, preheat the oven to 160 C.

Use a baking pan size 25 x 15 cm. Melt the butter and grease the pan well.

Greek Galaktoboureko - phyllo layering

Use #4 phyllo sheets. They are good to use because they don’t get dry immediately. Carefully remove one phyllo sheet from the pack and place it on the baking pan.

Drizzle butter from over the top and spread evenly on the phyllo. Repeat this with another 5 phyllo sheets. Press down the sheet gently but firmly before buttering.

Greek Galaktoboureko - phyllo covered custard

When the 5th sheet is layered, grease it with butter. Pour half of the custard filling over the sheet and spread evenly. Tuck in any excess phyllo sheets which are hanging beneath the baking pan. 

Spare one sheet to cover the top and repeat the process with the remaining phyllo sheets.

Carefully place the final sheet over the top of the custard layer. Seal the sides and edges so that the custard does not overflow.

Drizzle butter over the top sheet and spread evenly.

Although some recipes suggest cutting the pie after baking, I always cut mine into the required size and shape before baking. Cut the assembled pie into 8 to 10 pieces and pour the remaining butter on top so that the butter drips from the sides into the pan.

Greek Galaktoboureko - ready to bake

Set the pan into the oven and bake for 60 to 120 minutes or until the top is nicely golden.

Take out of the oven and immediately pour over the cool honey sugar syrup. Do not pour hot syrup over hot Galaktoboureko or hot syrup over cold Galaktoboureko. This will destroy the crisp texture of the pastry and may make it soggy.

Serve fresh.

Greek Galaktoboureko - ready to cut

Tips to Make the Custard For Galaktoboureko?

Greek Galaktoboureko is made of thin semolina to get a grainy texture. However, achieving this grainy texture while preparing this custard is tricky. So, how do you reach this perfection while preparing custard?

You can prepare the best custard for Galaktoboureko by adding egg whites into meringues. Fold them in the custard mixture to get a great texture. In some recipes, whole eggs may be added, but if you want the right consistency, add beaten egg whites into meringues and then combine them with the semolina-based cream.

It is one of the best ways to make your custard fluffier without the smell of the eggs, which can ruin the flavor and aroma of Galaktoboureko.

Here are some tips to make a perfect custard:

  • Add semolina to the warm milk gradually and whisk it consistently to avoid lumps.
  • Cool the mixture before folding the meringues to avoid curdling.
  • Always use quality cream while preparing custard for Galaktoboureko. A double heavy cream is one of the best picks, as it will make your custard silky and smooth.

How to store Galaktoboureko?

Galaktoboureko is a custard-filled dessert that is best served fresh, the same day it is prepared. Therefore I never advise storing any leftovers because it no longer stays the same.

If you do have Galaktoboureko leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. But the phyllo sheet does not remain crunchy.

The best way to keep Galaktoboureko crunchy and fresh is to keep it at room temperature and consume it as early as possible. But if you have refrigerated it and want to warm it up, microwave it for a few seconds.

Freezing the prepared Galaktoboureko or even unbaked is not recommended because the phyllo, baked or unbaked, gets soggy. The custard also gets loose and runny so it’s better not to freeze it.

Can I Freeze the Galaktoboureko?

Yes, you can freeze Galaktoboureko, but it’s important to do it right. First, cool the dessert to room temperature. Then, slice it into serving-sized pieces and wrap them individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place the wrapped pieces in an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag to prevent freezer burn.

To eat this again, simply thaw it in the fridge overnight. Reheating it in the oven at a low temperature (around 300°F or 150°C) can help restore its crispiness. While freezing may alter the texture, the flavor will remain delicious, allowing you to savor this delightful Greek dessert at your convenience.

My Galaktoboureko Went Wrong. A Quick Fix

If your Galaktoboureko didn’t turn out as expected, there could be a few reasons. The most common issues are a soggy or overly firm custard filling or a dry phyllo pastry. To fix a soggy custard, ensure that you’ve allowed it to cool before adding it to the pastry, and make sure the pastry layers are fully baked and crisp.

To address a dry pastry, you can brush it with sugar syrup immediately after baking to add moisture and sweetness. For future attempts, be meticulous with your phyllo layering and baking times, and make sure to follow the recipe’s instructions closely. With a bit of practice and attention to detail, your Galaktoboureko should turn out deliciously perfect.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does galaktoboureko mean in Greek?

 Galak is a classic dessert of Greek and Turkish origin. The word Galaktoboureko consists of two root words. “Galakto” means “milk” and “Bourke” which, in Turkish, means anything which is filled up in phyllo sheets. In the Galaktoboureko, the egg and semolina custard are stuffed up in a phyllo sheet.

What is the difference between Bougatsa and galaktoboureko?

Bougatsa and Galaktoboureko are both Greek desserts. Both are made up of phyllo sheets and custard filling. However, one main difference between the two traditional Greek desserts is that Galaktoboureko is soaked in honey and sugar syrup after being baked. Bougatsa has no syrup, it is merely dusted with powdered cinnamon and sugar when it is ready to serve.

Can Galaktoboureko be frozen?

It is recommended to consume the Galaktoboureko the same day. However, if you want to store it, it is better to keep it in the same pan in which it was baked and wrapped in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days, however, the phyllo may not remain crispy. Because of the milky custard filling, Galaktoboureko cannot be kept in the freezer.

Greek Galaktoboureko

Greek Galaktoboureko (Traditional Recipe)

Adalynn Ward
The traditional greek dessert ofGalaktoboureko might indulge you in its creamy custard filling and crisp crust.Be sure to include this on your cheat day menu.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 7 persons

Ingredients

For Custard

  • 2 medium-sized eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 80 g semolina
  • 50 g butter (for custard)
  • 125 g butter (to brush phyllosheets)
  • 250 g heavy cream
  • 250 g whole milk
  • 225 g phyllo sheets
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 pinch salt

Forsugar syrup

  • 400 g sugar
  • 225 ml water
  • 35 g honey
  • Lemon zest
  • 1 cinnamon stick

How to Make?

Method(for custard)

  • In a large mixing bowl, crack the eggs and pour half the sugar.
  • Beat well until the air is well incorporated and the mixture becomes airy and fluffy. Set aside.
  • In a pan, pour milk, heavy cream, remaining sugar, salt, and vanilla essence. Cook over a medium-high flame until the mixture boils.
  • As it starts bubbling, add semolina and mix with a spatula for 3 to 4 minutes or until the mixture gets thick.
  • When the semolina mixture makes strings, it means it's ready. Turn off the flame.
  • Add butter and mix until it melts properly. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl.
  • Beat the mixture well until it cools down a bit but is still lukewarm.
  • When it is ready, fold the egg mixture carefully so as not to break the air bubbles.
  • The custard filling is ready.

Sugar syrup

  • Pour all the ingredients of sugar syrup except honey into a bowl. Cook on medium-high heat until the water boils.
  • When it starts boiling, mix it with a spatula so that the sugar dissolves properly.
  • Ensure that the mixture remains translucent. Remove from heat, add honey and mix well. Let it cool.

Assembling and baking

  • Preheat the oven to 160 °C
  • Melt butter in themicrowave. Grease generously a 25 x 15 cm baking pan with butter.
  • Layer one phyllo sheet at the base of the baking pan.
    Drizzle butter from the top and spread evenly. Repeat with 5 phyllo sheets while pressing the sheets gently.
  • Spread the custard filling over the 5th layer and tuck in any hanging edges of phyllo sheets.
  • Set aside one phyllo sheet for the top and repeat the layering on top of the custard with the remaining sheets.
  • Spread custard and carefully set the last phyllo sheet on top. Seal the edges well in the insides of the baking pan.
  • Drizzle butter generously over the top Phyllo sheet and spread it evenly.
  • Cut the pie into 8 to 10 pieces and pour the remaining butter.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1.5 hours or until the top is nicely brown.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately pour the cool sugar syrup over the pie.
  • Wait for around 15 minutes and let Galaktoboureko absorb syrup completely.
  • Serve cool. I hope you have perfectly made the Galaktoboureko.
  • Don't forget to leave your feedback about the recipe in comment section. Show us how it looked like and how was your experience.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pieceCalories: 355kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 4.2gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 95mgSugar: 32g
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Hello!! My name is Adalynn I love to eat, travel, and eat some more! I am married to the man of my dreams and have a beautiful little girl whose smiles can brighten anyone’s day!