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Galaktoboureko (Greek Semolina Custard Pie)

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This golden, crispy and creamy Greek Galaktoboureko is a syrup-soaked custard pie made with layers of crispy filo pastry! It’s easy to make and serve up!

Galaktoboureko - single peice being held on a spatula above baking tin with the rest of the dessert inside

I’m so excited to share my version of this delicious dessert with you guys today. My Yiayia used to make it all the time and in testing the recipe (and there were 5 batches tested) I was aiming for a delicious creamy and soft custard filling that was still firm enough to hold its shape. All encased in crispy layers of buttery filo pastry that stays crispy even after the cinnamon and lemon syrup is poured on top!

Galaktoboureko - side by side image

If you’re looking for more Greek desserts, check out my Baklava Recipe and my Kourapiedes cookies!

What makes Galaktoboureko so delicious?

Galaktoboureko, pronounced: yala-kto-bou-reko, is a creamy custard dessert soaked in syrup and encased in crispy filo pastry. Like baklava, every Greek has their own way of making this. They use different ratios and ingredients. I developed a recipe as close as I could to my Yiayias, but slightly firmer so that it holds its shape.

Galaktoboureko - single peice on a white plate

The real star of the show is the unique custard filling. Unlike regular custards made of eggs and cream, this one has fine semolina and corn starch which helps it thicken enough so you can slice it up. If you use the right semolina, the custard is smooth and has a delicious flavor.

This is a two day recipe. Plan ahead!

Yep, this isn’t one you want to try and make in a day.

Day 1

  • Make syrup
  • Make custard
  • Bake Pie
  • Overnight Set in the fridge

Day 2

  • Slice and serve!

You can make and bake the galaktoboureko and syrup in the same day, but it needs to sit in the fridge overnight to soak in the syrup and set properly. I know people say you can serve it warm, but honestly, the overnight setting time is important so that it doesn’t fall to an eggy, soft mess as you cut and lift up on your spatula.

Ingredients You Need To Make Galaktoboureko

Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

Galaktoboureko - ingredients 01

Syrup

  • Granulated sugar -or caster sugar. Either will work.
  • Honey – any type will work. Added for flavor and to lessen the chance of the syrup crystalizing as it cooks.
  • Lemon – you’ll be using the peel and juice for the syrup. Both add flavor. Make sure you wash and dry your lemon before peeling.
  • Cinnamon stick – this adds so much flavor.
Galaktoboureko - ingredients 02

Semolina Custard

  • Finely Ground Semolina – also known as fine semolina or semolina flour is the type you want to use for this recipe. Not the course one you use for making pizza or breads.
  • Corn flour – also known as corn starch. Typically, not an ingredient used in galaktoboureko, this is used to thicken the custard without having to rely on more eggs which can make the custard taste way too eggy.
  • Caster sugar – also known as superfine sugar.
  • Milk – I used whole-fat cow’s milk.
  • Heavy cream – I’ve tried this recipe with cream and without cream and it’s just so much nicer and richer with the cream so I wouldn’t recommend leaving it out.
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vanilla ExtractAlways use good quality vanilla extract when baking, it makes a huge difference. I have a great recipe here for it if you’d like to try your own!
  • Eggs – make sure your eggs are at room temperature.
Galaktoboureko - ingredients 03
  • Filo Pastry – this is a super thin pastry that when baked, becomes golden and super crispy. You can find filo pastry in the fridge or freezer section of your supermarket. If using frozen filo pastry, make sure you thaw it in the fridge. When you’re layering everything together, cover your filo pastry with a towel to stop it from drying out which can happen easily if it’s a warm day.
  • Clarified Butter – I have a full tutorial on how to make clarified butter or ghee on this blog. I’ve made this with melted butter and the milk solids in the butter burned as it baked leaving little black bits on top of the galaktoboureko.

How to make Galaktoboureko!

Galaktoboureko - making the syrup

Syrup

  1. Add all of the ingredients into a pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool completely. I used a fork to take out the lemon peels and cinnamon stick.
Galaktoboureko - making the custard

Semolina Custard

  1. Mix the semolina and corn starch together. Set aside.
  2. Heat the milk, half the sugar and butter in a large pot.
  3. Add the semolina mixture slowly while whisking.
  4. It will thicken and bubble.
  5. Add to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool.
  6. Whip up the remaining sugar, vanilla and eggs until thick and pale, about 5-8 minutes.
  7. Fold the cooled custard and egg mixture together.
Galaktoboureko - layering the galaktoboureko

To Assemble And Bake

  1. Brush your 9×13-inch baking tin with clarified butter using a brush.
  2. Begin layering with filo pastry leaving some hanging over.
  3. Add semolina custard and spread evenly.
  4. Fold over filo pastry overhang
  5. Begin layering more filo pastry on top
  6. Score using a sharp knife
  7. Bake and pour cold syrup on top. Allow to chill in the fridge overnight before slicing and serving.
Galaktoboureko - top down shot of the golden pastry top covered in syrup

Tips and Tricks For Recipe Success!

  • Use clarified butter for this recipe. Melted butter will leave little black burnt bits. Clarified butter has no milk solids in it.
  • You can use a stand mixer or hand beater to whip up the eggs and sugar. The hand mixer will take longer.
  • You’ll need a really big mixing bowl to make the custard, it’s a lot!
  • When folding the egg mixture and custard together, use a spatula and do it gently to make sure you don’t get rid of the air in the egg.
  • When scoring the layered galaktoboureko, use a sharp knife and cut all the way through the top layer of pastry to the custard.
  • Make the syrup first before anything to make sure it has enough time to cool before pouring on the hot custard pie.
  • You can make a smaller version of this recipe by halving the ingredients and baking in a 9×9-inch baking tin.

Frequently Asked Questions about Galaktoboureko

What does it taste like?

This is a syrup soaked dessert which is sweet. There’s no way around that other than to eat a smaller piece haha. This dessert has notes of cinnamon, lemon and honey with a creamy and rich custard, all encased in a crispy filo pastry!

How do I store this?

Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. This dessert can not be frozen.

Can I halve the dessert?

Yes! You can make a smaller version of this recipe by halving the ingredients and baking in a 9×9-inch baking tin.

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More Greek Recipes!

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Galaktoboureko - thumbnail

Galaktoboureko

This golden, crispy and creamy Greek Galaktoboureko is a syrup-soaked Custard Pie made with layers of crispy filo pastry!

Serves 12

4.5 from 16 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cool: 30 minutes
Total: 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Calories: 975kcal

Ingredients

Syrup

  • 335 g water
  • 575 g granulated sugar
  • 55 g honey
  • 1 lemon peeled, using a vegetable peeler
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Semolina Custard

  • 240 g finely ground semolina see notes
  • 48 g corn flour corn starch
  • 315 g caster sugar divided
  • 1500 g (1.5 litres) whole milk
  • 1000 g (1 litre) heavy cream
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs 55g each

Pastry



Instructions

Syrup

  • Add all the ingredients into a large pot, stir, then place on medium high heat and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium heat and allow to bubble for 5 minutes. Take off the heat, use tongs to take out the cinnamon stick and lemon peel and allow to cool at room temperature completely. You want the syrup to cooled when you pour it over the finished custard pie.

Semolina Custard

  • Combine dry ingredients – In a small mixing bowl, add the semolina and corn starch and use a whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • Heat milk, cream and butter – To a large non-stick pot, add 3/4 cup (160g), all the milk, cream and butter. Heat on medium heat without stirring.
  • Add dry ingredients – As soon as little bubbles appear around the sides, begin adding the semolina/corn flour mixture about 203 tbsp at a time while using a whisk to. Once it’s all in there the mixture with thicken and begin bubbling. Continue mixing for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  • Whip eggs – To a large mixing bowl add the eggs, vanilla extract, and remaining sugar (3/4 cup (160g)) and beat on high speed until it thickens and turns pale, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Fold eggs through custard – Add 1/2 of the whipped egg mixture into the cooled custard and fold through in circular motions. Then repeat with the remaining egg mixture until all the egg mixture is combined.

To Assemble And Bake

  • Preheat your oven. Fan Forced: 160C / 320F, No fan: 180C / 355F.
  • Prepare baking dish – For this recipe you will need a 22x33cm / 9×13-inch baking tin with 5cm / 2 inch sides. The one I used was the USA pan 9×13-inch baking tray. Use a pastry brush to brush the bottom and sides with melted butter. Set aside.
  • Begin layering pastry on bottom – Line the bottom of the baking dish with one layer of filo pastry. Drizzle (don’t brush) with a little bit of butter. Add a second layer of filo pastry going up the sides letting some hang over the sides. Then drizzle with more butter and add another layer of filo pastry. Drizzle with butter. Then add another 3 layers of filo pastry on the bottom, drizzling with butter each time.
  • Add custard – Add the custard filling and spread around evenly. I used an offset spatula to do this.
  • Finish with top pastry layer – Fold over the excess pastry and drizzle with butter. Add another 6 layers of pastry on top, drizzling each layer with butter. Brush the final layer of pastry with a generous amount of butter.
  • Score the pastry and bake – Use a sharp knife to cut into 3 x 4 cubes to end up with 12 pieces. Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 90 minutes. The pastry will be a deep golden color.
  • Pour cold syrup on hot pie – As soon as he Galaktoboureko comes out of the oven, pour the cooled syrup over the pastry. Set aside to let it soak the syrup and serve warm or my favorite, cooled in the fridge for a couple hours!

Notes

Semolina – for this recipe, you want to use a fine ground semolina. You can find this in the baking isle of your supermarket. Are there alternatives? I’m not sure I’ve only tested this recipe with semolina which is what it’s traditionally made with.
Filo Pastry / Phyllo Pastry – this is a paper-thin pastry which when baked with some butter brushed in between comes out perfectly golden and crispy. The true secret to keeping it crispy in a syrup-based dessert like this is to pour on cold syrup onto a hot dessert. Filo pastry can be found in the fridge section of your supermarket, but it can also be sold in the freezer section. If buying frozen pastry, let it thaw in the fridge overnight. Don’t thaw in a warm spot to speed things up otherwise it will make the pastry brittle and dry. Be delicate when handling it as it can rip easily.
Storage – Galaktoboureko can be stored in an airtight container, in the fridge for up to three days. It’s best served on the day or the day after it’s served. After that the pastry begins going a little stale or softens.
Nutrition – is an approximate and is based on per slice. This recipe yields 12 slices.
A note on measurements – this recipe is offered in weight measurements. This is in an effort to offer the most accurate way to get the best results. Cup measurements simply aren’t accurate enough for a recipe that needs precision and cup sizes differ depending on where you are in the world. Here is where you can learn more about how to measure ingredients using digital kitchen scales!

Nutrition

Calories : 975kcal
Carbonhydrates: 97g
Protein: 14g
Fat: 53g
Saturated Fat: 32g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g
Monounsaturated Fat : 14g
Trans Fat : 0.2g
Cholesterol: 225mg
Sodium: 254mg
Potassium : 406mg
Fiber: 2g
Sugar : 63g
Vitamin A: 1676IU
Vitamin C: 1mg
Calcium: 241mg
Iron: 2mg
Nutrition Disclosure
Gave this recipe a go?Mention @thescranline or tag #thescranline!

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1 comment

Nick Makrides June 24, 2023 - 2:51 am

5 stars
So excited to share this recipe! N x

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