Recipe Scene: Galaktoboureko

Galaktoboureko is my favourite dessert. The combination of custard, syrup and layers of golden filo pastry is perfect. When catching up with friends at Vanilla in Oakleigh, it is my dessert of choice, and they make a mighty fine version. This recipe is from an old Greek  hardback cookbook, published in 1960 that my grandmother passed down to my mother. The book is entitled  I Nea Maghiriki Zaharoplastiki tou Ellinikou Spitiou by Sofia Skoura. It loosely translates to New Pastry Cooking in the Greek Household.

I have made this recipe several times and it produces a sweet, rich, syrup laden dessert with semolina custard. For custard and dessert lovers give this recipe a try. You won’t stop at one slice.

For the custard.

960ml milk

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1 cup of fine semolina

5 eggs

3 tablespoons of butter

2 packets of vanilla sugar (can be substituted with 1 tsp of vanilla essence)


480g filo pastry

1/2 cup melted butter


3 1/2 cups of sugar

2 1/2 cups of water

1 lemon peel

1 tsp grated lemon rind.


Heat the milk until boiling. Pour in semolina slowly and keep stirring with a wooden spoon until thick. If any lumps form, (which they often do) pop the mixture in the blender for a smooth consistency.

Beat the eggs with sugar and vanilla (using an electric mixer) until light in colour and add to the semolina mixture stirring with a wooden spoon. Add butter and stir until melted and incorporated into the mixture. Allow to cool. (stir from time to time so skin doesn’t form on the custard).

Butter the 370mm long x 270 mm wide stainless steel dish. Brush each individual filo sheet with melted butter and place half of the filo on the bottom of the dish, draped over the sides. Then add the custard mixture, and fold the excess filo pastry onto the custard. Then add the remaining filo sheets, brushing each one with melted butter, and cut any excess filo around the edges with a sharp knife. Score the pastry in either diagonal or straight squares ~ 80 mm square or as desired. Brush with a generous amount of melted butter and drizzle a little water on top of the pastry as well. Place in a moderate oven ~180C or until the pastry is golden.

While the galaktoboureko is cooking make the syrup. Boil the water, sugar, lemon peel for 5 minutes, then add the rind and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. When the galaktoboureko is out of the oven drizzle with the syrup and allow to cool. Serve with a greek coffee or strong espresso.


About Anna-Maria Megalogenis 157 Articles
Anna-Maria has been writing for Street Press in Melbourne and Sydney for over 20 years. She is passionate about food, music and the arts, is an avid reader and used to hand write reviews for Beat Magazine at the Great Britain Hotel, where a patron once suggested she was ripping off articles in Rolling Stone magazine.