Saturday, 5 July 2014

galactoboureko with fortified wine and spice poached crab apples

bougatsa, galatopita and galactoboureko are some of my favourite greek sweets..whenever i go back to greece i make a beeline for a little hole in the wall shop in pagrati athens for bougatsa (they also sell spinach, meat and cheese pie)..i always worry that the shop might have disappeared but it's always right there where it's always been and with the same pies that i've loved since i was living there in the 70's..

they're great pies to eat for a quick breakfast on the run..when you go there the generous sized pieces of pie are already cut from larger pies that are cooked off site on huge trays..and when you order a piece the man working's always a man..wraps the pie ordered in greaseproof paper and pops it into a paper bag..the exchange of paper bag and money is so quick and easy..i don't remember the exact cost but they're not expensive and they're really good quality..

while i love the quick and easy on the go bougatsa my favourite way of eating it is sitting down at a table either in a zacharoplasteion..cake shop..or in a bougatsaria..where they only sell bougatsa and coffee..with a glass of cold water and a greek coffee with 'ligi' zakeri..a little sugar......bougatsaria aren't everywhere in greece my travels i once came across a small seemingly anachronistic bougatsaria in soufli in the north east of greece early one morning while i was waiting for a was the only place open at the time and it was, again, run by a had the best bougatsa ever..and i also know of a couple of iconic bougatsaria in ioannina where my former husband comes from..i'm sure there are many others that i don't know of..yet..the reason i like to eat bougatsa at zacharoplasteia or bougatsaria is because of the way it's served on a plate, cut up into small bite sized pieces and dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar, and eaten with a desert's so relaxing eating it this way..

as i said earlier bougatsa is often consumed on the run and often for breakfast whereas galatopita and galactoboureko are eaten sitting down in a cafe (or it's bought to take home or as a gift) and it's eaten later in the day..greek people don't tend to eat a sweet course after a meal but they do love to linger in a cafe with a sweet little something and a coffee in the afternoon or at night..another difference is that bougatsa is thin..about one to two centimetres thick..but galatopita and galactoboureko are thicker and can range from between four to six or more centremetres thick..and instead of being dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon as bougatsa is both galatopita and galactoboureko are doused generously in a citrus or floral sugar syrup...and incidentally the only difference i can ascertain between galatopita and galactoboureko is that galatopita has filo on the bottom only and galactoboureko has filo on both top and bottom..anyway..whichever way they come they are all me..and most greeks!

tea with hazel
makes 12 generous sized serving pieces


30 gms butter
200 gms fine semolina
2 litres milk (i used unhomogenised organic milk)
1 1/4 cups sugar* (or more or less according to taste)
3 eggs lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla (i used my own)
10-12 filo pastry sheets
melted butter


~ in a large saucepan melt butter and once bubbling add semolina and stir for a few minutes to lightly toast and then take off heat
~ slowly add milk while whisking to prevent lumps forming
~ return the saucepan to the heat and cook until thickened and just coming to the boil
~ remove from the heat and add sugar, vanilla and, while stirring well to prevent the mixture curdling, slowly add the eggs
~ pour mixture through a sieve to remove any lumps
~ set aside to cool
~ butter a 32 cm x 22 cm x 4cm tin and layer with 6 buttered filo sheets allowing the excess to hang over the sides of the tin
~ pour the semolina custard in the tin and layer with a further 4-5 buttered filo sheets folded in half
~ bring the over hanging filo sheets over the top filo layers and brush the top with butter
~ spray the top with water to help prevent the filo lifting during baking
~ bake at 180 deg c for 40-50 minutes or until the top is browned and the custard set


* a greek cook would typically use a lot more sugar in this type of recipe than i did

fortified wine and spice poached crab apples

fortified wine and spice poached crab apples 
tea with hazel


1 kg organic crab apples* stalks intact
500 mls fortified wine (i used pfeiffer topaque**)
1-2 tablespoons sugar or more according to taste
1/2 to 1 cinnamon quill
3-4 cloves
2 cumquats*** (or use orange peel with white pith removed)


~ place wine, sugar, spices and cumquats in a large, shallow saucepan and heat gently to dissolve the sugar
~ once the sugar has dissolved bring to the boil, reduce the heat to barely a simmer, add just enough crab apples to form a single layer, cover with a cartouche (to avoid too much evaporation), and cook gently, lifting the paper and turning the fruit every so often so that the crab apples cook evenly
~ remove any crab apple as soon as starting to soften
~ cook the remaining crab apples in batches in the same manner
~ refrigerate and use within about two weeks


*     i used malus gorgeous crab apples picked from my own tree
**   i used this wine because i rarely drink and i had half of a bottle languishing..i didn't have enough so i opened another bottle! the wine was gifted to me by my daughter kat who had been gifted the wine by the wine maker who is a friend of hers
*** yeah i've got thousands of them so i use them in everything possible

serving suggestions

~ serve as the greeks typically do with a flavoured sugar syrup or do as i did and serve the galactoboureko with just a dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon, or, both that and some poached crab apples and the delicious fortified wine and spice syrup..the crab apples have a slight tartness which compliments the sweetness of the custard and syrup..either way is me..not sure if most greeks would approve of me mucking around with an already great recipe..

dedicated to my boy nicholas who left for greece this week
and to his girl ruby who joins him in a month
they worked so hard to make their trip happen
so proud
so much love


  1. That is nothing short of impressive Jane, especially using all of your special home produce. The last photo really sums up the love you have of Greece, gardening, food and your family. Safe travels to Nicholas and Ruby x

    1. thanks are right i do love's my other home..x

  2. To you, most Greeks and this little black duck...YUMMO! Now to attempt to veganise it...nah, too hard, I will just make it for Stevie-boy and live vicariously through his happy munching sounds ;)

  3. I never remember the name of this dish, galact....and that's where it stays in my head. However the taste, yes. Oh yes. And I was only thinking a couple of days ago I would like to try and make this. Your recipe sounds perfect, thank you lovely.

    1. i've been looking at other versions of galactoboureko since i made mine and in one recipe ( the eggs were separated and the whites beaten and added last..i love the denseness of mine but this version with a lighter custard sounds really also has cream in it too for extra lushness..x

  4. Jane, that looks fabulous. Is the custard part smooth or can you still feel the texture of the semolina? I'm going to try this next week.x

  5. thanks glenda..the semolina is only slightly discernible but in a good me..if you decide to make it check out the above comment where i've added a link for an alternative recipe that sounds really interesting..x

  6. Ooh...that looks good!
    Heather :)

  7. Hi Jane, I have a question re the semolina. I have two types both are durum semolina which I have bought for bread making. The first type is "All About Bread" durum semolina for pasta which is fine but not as fine as the other type which is "Granoro" ground (super fine remilled) durum semolina for pasta and pizza making. Is this the type of semolina I need or is there another type of semolina which is more appropriate?

    1. hi glenda..the remilled semolina is definitely not the one you need..i'm not sure about the other one though..the one i use is about the size of a small pin head (unfortunately i don't have the packet which might have provided more details)..smaller than couscous but it definitely has a granular appearance rather than being more flour like..hope this helps..if not please feel free to contact me again and i'll find out what it's called tomorrow..cheers..jane

  8. Hi Jane, too late she cried .... I made it yesterday morning. I decided to go with the remilled semolina!! Oh well, it tasted fantastic, everyone loved it. There was virtually no texture as the semolina is very, very fine - like coarse flour . If you don't mind, next time you have access to a packet, I would like to know what semolina I should have used. Like I said, I only have it in the house as I use it for bread. I checked out a few sites the other night and it appears semolina was traditionally only made with durum wheat but now it is also made with softer wheat. I don't think the stuff you get in the supermarket is made with durum wheat. There didn't seem to be any distinction between the semolina used for pasta etc and that used for desserts.

    1. oh sorry glenda..i did try to email you and i thought i left a message on your blog re the email but it's not then i posted my message here..sounds as if it didn't make a difference to the taste and because the recipe is in grams it shouldn't have affected the density of the custard..i will look at the semolina next time i'm at the supermarket and get back to you..x