Sunday, January 16, 2011

Greek Pastries, Part 2

My favorite Greek pastry (that I've had) is Galaktoboureko, which I've made with my boss a couple times now. A creamy, delicious semolina custard is wrapped up in layers of phyllo ('Gala' means milk in Greek. I think 'bourek' means pie). Sometimes it's made with lemon, sometimes with orange, sometimes a syrup is poured on top. The latest version we made was an orange custard with cinnamon sugar in the phyllo layers. It was to die for. Make it next time you go to a potluck or have friends over. Don't make it if you're alone- unless you're too skinny- because you'll eat it all and gain ten pounds.

 Picture taken from here.

The recipe:

4 C milk
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C + 2 T unsalted butter
Zest and juice of 1/2 orange
3/4 C semolina
4 egg whites, whisked until soft peaks form (be careful not to beat it too much- you don't want stiff peaks)
1/4 C vegetable oil
2 T ground cinnamon
1/2 package phyllo
3 T powdered sugar

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and orange zest/juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Mix in semolina, and cook, stirring, until the mixture is thick, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and fold in the egg whites. Set the mixture aside to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt remaining 1 C butter with the oil; use some of this mixture to brush a 9-inch round or square baking pan.  In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

3. Unwrap the phyllo and top with one dry kitchen towel and one slightly damp towel, so the sheets don't dry out too much as you work. Working with one sheet of phyllo at a time, lay the sheets of phyllo so they fit tightly in the pan (filling the bottom of the pan and going up and over the sides) and there's a 1 1/2 inch flap sticking out over the top of the pan- you should use about three sheets of phyllo. Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo with a generous amount of the butter mixture, then lightly sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Repeat until you have three or four good layers of phyllo and cinnamon sugar. 

4. Pour the custard into the phyllo-lined pan and spread evenly. Working with one layer at a time, fold those little phyllo flaps that you left sticking out toward the center of the pan and "glue" them down with the butter mixture. Add 2-3 of layers of phyllo/butter/cinnamon sugar to the top, so that the custard is totally enveloped.  Do not sprinkle the top layer with cinnamon sugar, or it'll burn. Prick all over with a fork, and bake (with a baking sheet below it to catch any drips) for about 45 minutes, until golden brown.  
5. Combine remaining tablespoon of cinnamon with the confectioners' sugar, and sprinkle over the surface of the phyllo when removed from oven- it'll form a nice crust. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold- it's delicious however!


  1. Thank you! I like it, too. It looks nice and clean, and I love that picture from Luke.