Saturday, September 01, 2007


After reading M's Nemesis' post about her snot blocks, aka Galaktoboureko, a Greek custard dessert, I decided to make it as well. Upon telling my Greek friend John that I was going to make this dessert, I didn't really get the reaction I thought I would get. Recently, I've become quite the baker and have made quite a lot of great desserts (I may be biased but I still know what has worked and what hasn't). However, John said "Are you sure you want to make this dessert, you need 10 years of baking experience to make this dessert well". My reply was "It's only custard, how hard can it be". Those were to be my last confident words.

The photo from M's post of the Galaktoboureko looks so good and it didn't sound like she had too much trouble. However, I found that I had lots of problems the whole way through. Most things that I have attempted of late have gone fairly smoothly, even the Japanese Cheesecake which sounded quite hard but turned out unbelievably well. It must have been beginners luck. The galaktoboureko gave me so much trouble that I almost threw out the mixture half way through. Having said that, don't let me deter you from trying. I delight in seeing other people fail muahahahahaha. Only kidding. I'm sure the more advanced bakers out there can make this easily without any problems.

For the recipe, please see M's post as you all know I'm too lazy to rewrite it. However, here are the things that went wrong for me and you should take note of.

* When adding the semolina, definitely add it slowly and stir continuously. I added it too fast and it all clumped up. It was at this stage that I was really angry and wanted to chuck it all out. Instead, I strained out the clump. I knew that the dessert wasn't going to be right and it was as I predicted, there wasn't enough semolina to hold the whole dessert together. The results was that the custard was very rough in texture and too soft. It fell apart really easily.

* I made the syrup as the recipe instructed. I then poured it over the galaktoboureko. However, I think my syrup was still to thin as it never quite set and was just a pool of liquid in the tray. Also, the amount of syrup was way too much for the custard. I think I should have only poured a little so the pastry was still crispy. Either that or pour some and then drain it off after. I'm not sure exactly what you're suppose to do.

Here is how my Galaktoboureko looked. It looks rather awful. The taste was still good and I ate three straight away. However, the texture of the actual custard was not firm enough and too rough. I'm sure if I make it right next time, the texture would be much better.

I need I still need some more baking experience to perfect this dessert. However, I have not given up and will attempt it again soon, having learnt my mistakes this time. I might also ask M's Nemesis for some tips as to what I'm doing wrong.

EDIT: I've decided to post the recipe in case other people's blogs go down but mainly so its all easier to find when I want to make this recipe again myself.


For the custard pie

- 4 cups full cream milk
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 cup semolina
- 4 eggs
- 20g vanilla sugar (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
- packet of filo pastry
- 90g butter, melted

For the syrup

- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp orange flower water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 slices lemon peel

- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Bring milk and white sugar just to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add the semolina in a thin steady stream, stirring constantly. [Very important or else it will clump!!]
- Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes or until mixture is smooth and thickens slightly. Add more milk if mixture is too thick.
- Remove from heat and set aside for 15-20 minutes to cool slightly.
- Gradually add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until well combined.
- At this point I strained the custard mixture in a sieve to remove any lumps.
- Add the vanilla sugar (or extract) and lemon rind and stir until well combined.

To assemble

- Place 1 filo sheet in the base of a 24 x 30cm ovenproof dish and brush with a little melted butter.
- Top with another filo sheet and lightly brush with melted butter. Repeat with half the packet of filo sheets and melted butter.
- Pour slightly cooled semolina mixture over the filo in dish.
- Continue layering with remaining filo sheets with melted butter between each sheet. I found it easier to brush the sheet on a flat surface first and then put it over the custard as it gets quite messy otherwise.
- Lightly score top of galaktoboureko with knife. Brush with the remaining melted butter.
- Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until golden.

To make sugar syrup

- Place all ingredients into a saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
- Simmer for 15 minutes or until syrup thickens slightly.
- Cut through marked lines on top of galaktoboureko, pour over the hot syrup and and set aside to stand.


  1. Ah, bad luck Thanh! I had a baking disaster of my own last night. Similar to your situation the end result was edible but not cooked properly and nothing like the texture it was supposed to have. :-(

    I guess we need these mistakes sometimes so that we don't become overconfident, and the successes we have are all the sweeter. :-D

  2. Having mistakes is good as you constantly learn from them. I now know anything that will clump needs to be added very slowly and stirred continuously.

    It's just that I didn't expect this recipe to go so wrong. It didn't sound too hard. I tend to shy away from recipes that have a million different steps and require all these tricky cooking methods. I will try this again and hopefully it turns out better next time.

  3. My brother learned quite young that appearance of a baked effort is secondary to taste. So if it still tastes good, it's something of a success!

    And, as you say, you've learned something now, so next time will be easier.

  4. Anna, I'm with your brother. It doesn't matter how it looks (within reason) as long as it tastes good. This dessert though probably could have been even better in taste if I fix some mistakes for next time. I definitely have learnt some more skills and it will be easier next time.

  5. Hi Thanh
    Arggg! Just read your misadventures with the galaktoboureko and totally sympathise. The steps are pretty simple perhaps a little vague so it's not surprising there'd be some stumbling blocks.
    - Your suggestions are on the ball although your friend may have been trying to spook you with the note about 10 years experience!
    - As for the syrup it should be a light sugar syrup although you have the freedom to make it as thin or as thick as you wish.
    - The custard absorbs the syrup very slowly but there'll be some pooled on the bottom anyway.
    - The pastry will 'soggify' over time as well so it's best to pour the syrup (at chosen consistency) just before serving.

    Hope you have better luck next time I look forward to hearing about your results if you decide to try it again!

  6. M, I think my friend was partially trying to scare me, although he wasn't completely wrong when he said it's not as easy as I thought.

    Thanks for the tip about pouring the syrup later. I think that would produce better results too.

    I'll try again soon.