Trip to Greece and a traditional Greek dessert

Ok, I am going to get super regular with posting recipes and pictures of everything baked and cooked in our kitchen. Since this is my first post after we got back from our vacation in Greece, sharing a Greek dessert recipe (with a twist of course) seems appropriate. Greece, no doubt, was as beautiful and amazing as I had imagined it to be. I feel like we were there just yesterday every time I look at the pictures(yes, I do that at least once a day ;)) Atthe same time, it also feels like it has been a looonngggg time since we took a proper vacation, so yes I am ready to go back and next summer can’t get here fast enough!!


Have I mentioned that my favorite Mediterranean (Greek) restaurant in San Francisco has the BEST Galaktoboureko (Greek custard pie) I have every had? Well, I actually haven’t had that many but my fiance who has claims it is the best one he has ever tasted. A Galaktoboureko is this roll of phyllo dough filled with an amazing pastry cream and topped off with a sweet syrup. Served with ice cream, it is stuff dreams are made of, that is dreams of people who are always dream dessert-ME!!

Anyways so I somehow managed to find a recipe for Kokkari’s Galaktoboureko (YES!!) in a newspaper a while back and I was SO excited. I HAD to try it out. I made it twice, first for us and then for some friends we were entertaining at home. Here is a pic from attempt number 1.We are planning to take some photography classes soon so I am hoping to improve the quality of the photographs, but seriously my mouth is watering looking at this not so awesome photograph.


So, for attempt 1 I halved the recipe ( We have been trying to keep the calories down, not working out so well :(). They turned out great, fiance said WOW and gobbled them down, which is always a good sign. I personally felt the cream had too much semolina so for attempt 2 (when I made the full recipe) I reduced the amount of semolina I added to the pastry cream by justtt the slightest bit and it made all the difference!! Check out a pic from attempt 2 below, we went all fancy and served it with vanilla bean ice cream sprinkled with pistachios.


Now for the recipe. It makes 8 rolls (of the size seen in the two photos)


For the Semolina Custard

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup semolina flour (I used 1 teaspoon less the second time and it was better)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean

For the Orange Blossom Sauce (the heart of the recipe:))

  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water ( I found this in whole foods)
  • 1/4 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup

For assembly

  • 1 pastry bag or Ziploc bag1 package of phyllo dough
  • Clean, damp kitchen towel to keep the phyllo moist
  • 1/3 cup clarified butter, warmed (see Note on how to clarify butter)
  • 2 pastry brushes, one for the butter and one for the sauce


Making the Custard Cream

1. Mix 1/8 cup of the sugar with the eggs, vanilla extract and semolina flour.

2. In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, vanilla bean and the remaining 1/8 cup of the sugar. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

3. Slowly add hot milk mixture into the egg mixture a quarter cup at a time until the egg mixture is warm.

4. Slowly pour the warmed egg mixture back into the hot milk in the same fashion, whisking constantly.

5. Bring the mixture to a medium boil, stirring the whole time until thick, and remove from the heat when large bubbles begin to surface ( I didn’t really see any large bubbles but it took about 12-15 mins for the mixture to thicken, trust me you will see when it begins to thicken). Also, I wanted it a little thicker than the usual pastry creams so it is not runny when I put it on the phyllo.

6. Spread the mixture in a sheet pan, cover directly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until cold, about 2-4 hours.

Making the Orange Blossom Sauce

Bring all ingredients to a gentle boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and reserve.


1. Put the chilled custard into a pastry bag. If using a plastic bag, squeeze air out and snip about 3/4-inch off the corner.

2. Unroll the phyllo dough and cover with a damp towel. I transferred the phyllo dough from the freezer to the fridge for about 2 hours and it was pretty easy to unroll it after. It is very important to use a damp towel to cover the top phyllo when working with the others.
Take one sheet of phyllo and lay it out flat. Gently brush generously and evenly with warm butter. Layer with another sheet of phyllo and brush again with butter. Repeat one more time to have 3 layers of buttered phyllo.

3. Cut the phyllo in half crosswise and lengthwise to make 4 equal rectangles. On the shorter end of each rectangle, pipe out a cylinder of custard.

4. Roll the bottom edge of each phyllo rectangle once over its custard cylinder and fold in the sides. Continue to roll each rectangle the rest of the way, being careful not to roll too tightly.

5. Repeat the steps above to make 4 more rolls. Place the rolls 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Rewrap the leftover phyllo dough and freeze for another use.

6. Heat the oven to 500 F (the original recipe says 500 C but I assumed that was a mistake)

7. Pierce the top of each roll 3-4 times with a small knife. Bake on upper rack of oven until golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes, checking frequently.Mine took about 15 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and immediately brush with the syrup 3 times. It is best to allow rolls to sit for 5 minutes before serving as the custard will be very hot right out of the oven.

9. Serve warm with a drizzle of the remaining syrup.AND some ice cream of course!!

Note: To clarify butter, place the unsalted butter in a saucepan over low heat and slowly melt it. As the water evaporates, the milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan. Skim off the foam that collects on top of the butter and pour the clear (clarified) butter into a bowl, leaving behind the milk solids. I used normal butter the second time and the rolls got a little more color than the fist time, but I felt they looked (and tasted) better like that!

I am entering this recipe in the #LoveThePie contest so Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom  sponsored by Whirlpool and enter to win a new Whirlpool Range. I am loving all the pie recipes everyone is sharing for the contest!!



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