In the 1990s this energetic young thing spent several hours a week at a local gym. Step aerobics, funk classes and circuit training were on the agenda, accompanied by the sounds of C+C Music Factory, Right Said Fred and Salt-n-Pepa. What's that got to do with
Much like my adored pumpkin strudel, I've had something of a long-time love affair with Galaktoboureko, too. Cakes such as these are my absolute favourites, my kedvenc, as we say in Hungarian. One bite of that rich but not-overly-sweet semolina vanilla custard sandwiched in between layers of phyllo (filo) pastry, finished with a drizzle of cinnamon infused syrup makes me weak at the knees.
I'm sharing with you here my own recipe, perfected with time and a guaranteed treat for the tastebuds.
And a hint, the flavours of my
(Greek custard slice)
4 free-range eggs
190g vanilla-infused caster sugar
80g fine semolina
juice and finely chopped zest of a Meyer lemon
1 litre low fat milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
150g unsalted butter
400g packet of phyllo/filo pastry*
For the syrup:
1 cup water
50g caster sugar, extra
1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
icing sugar, to dust (optional)
Combine the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk until light and creamy. Add the semolina gradually, a little at a time, whisking constantly. Fold in the lemon juice, zest and the milk.
Pour the mixture into a medium sized saucepan. Add the vanilla seeds and pod to the mixture, then bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Keep stirring and cook until the custard thickens. Remove the saucepan from the heat, remove the vanilla pod, and set the custard aside to cool.
Meanwhile, grease a 20-21cm oven-proof dish (such as a Corning ware baker), and line the base and sides with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Melt the butter and set it aside.
Lay a clean dry tea towel on your kitchen bench and have a second clean but slightly-dampened tea towel handy. Place the layers of phyllo/filo pastry onto the clean tea towel and keep them covered while you work. This will prevent them from drying out. Place a sheet of pastry into the lined dish (letting the edges hang over the sides of the dish), then brush it with melted butter. Add a second layer of pastry (this time layering cross ways or zig zag), then brush it with butter. Continue until you have used half of the pastry, brushing every layer with butter. Now either fold the edges into the middle over the top of the custard. Scrunch two or three additional sheets of pastry and place them over the top of the 'slice'. Brush the top liberally with the butter.
Bake the slice for 35-40 minutes until it is golden brown. Meanwhile, combine the water, extra caster sugar and ground cinnamon in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, then remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Remove the slice from the oven and pour the syrup over the slice. Allow it to cool before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serves 8.
*I've been using both the Aldi filo and the Antoniou brand successfully. Both reminded me very much of my mother's strudel pastry. Thin, crisp and delicious when baked.
You say tomato and I say tomato...
Recently, a reader questioned my spelling of the term 'phyllo' pastry. She pointed out that 'in all [her] decades she had never seen the word spelled like that', and concluded that it must be the 'posh' way (ha!). Well, in all my decades of cooking and writing about food (and having the cooking school), I have used the spelling 'phyllo'. And from reading through several of my cookery reference books, indeed, either spelling may be applied, though you are perhaps more likely to see 'filo' used on packets of store-bought pastry in Australia. Swings and roundabouts, really.
Anyhoo, the next step for me is to learn how to make my own phyllo or filo. I understand that it's well worth the effort.
Tell me dear readers, what kinds of foods make you go 'Mmmm'? And do you say 'phyllo' or 'filo'?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.