Galatoboureko – Honey Semolina Custard Pie

Honey Semolina Custard Pie

Known as “Galatoboureko,” this Greek dessert is worth the effort. Serves 12.

4 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup fine semolina (sifted)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
5 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces phyllo dough, thawed per package instructions
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
Honey syrup – see recipe below


Place the milk, sugar, semolina, 4 tablespoons butter, lemon zest, cinnamon stick and salt in a heavy saucepan and stir constantly until thickened over medium heat. Continue to cook the custard gently over very low heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. Cover the top with a piece of fitted buttered parchment or waxed paper to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool.

When the custard mixture is cool, whisk in the eggs and vanilla.

Butter a 13 X 9-inch baking dish. Cut all of the phyllo into 13 X 9-inches. Place one piece of phyllo on the bottom of the baking dish. Brush lightly with melted butter. Continue for 14 more layers, brushing with butter between each layer. Pour the custard on top of the buttered phyllo and spread evenly. Place one piece of phyllo on top of the custard. Brush lightly with melted butter. Continue for 14 more layers, brushing with butter between each layer. Preheat an oven to 350 F.

Brush the top with the remaining butter and score through the top 3 sheets of phyllo 3-inches apart in a diagonal pattern. Turn the pan 90 degrees and score again 3-inches apart creating a diamond pattern. If needed, trim the edges. Bake until golden brown and the custard is set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Pour half of the honey syrup over the top and let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or room temperature with the remaining honey syrup.

Honey Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 3-inch piece lemon zest removed with a vegetable peeler
1/4 cup local honey

Place the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and stir, set on stove top on medium until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil over moderately high heat for 12 minutes and cool to lukewarm before straining.