Failed Goat's Milk Marscarpone Becomes Galaktoboureko or Greek Custard Pie
April 4, 2014
I picked up 2 litres of fresh goat’s milk from Brian Lendrum at the Fireweed Market a couple of weeks ago—Brian and his partner Susan Ross raise goats at their farm on Lake Laberge–and tried to make mascarpone cheese, something I’ve wanted to do for ages. But the attempt failed, possibly due to overheating the milk, due in turn to a candy thermometer that got stuck on 150F and never moved, though the milk was clearly nearing a boil. But more on mascarpone later—I’ve ordered another 2 litres for this coming Thursday, and will try again.
In the meantime I had 4 cups of goat milk and 2 cups of 35 percent cream, heated and cooled down, looking for a home, and so I decided to try…galaktoboureko! that famous and well-loved Greek custard pie, alternately called “Semolina Cream Pie” or “Vanilla Cream Pie” or “Phyllo-Custard Pie” depending on the cookbook. The distinguishing ingredients are milk, eggs, semolina, phyllo pastry and simple syrup flavoured with lemon, cinnamon or orange, sometimes orange blossom water, and sometimes, rosewater. Quantities range from 2 to 6 eggs, 4 to 6 cups of milk and ½ to 1 cup of semolina, according to the recipe.
Because I had 6 cups of milk/cream, I used the high end of the quantities range for milk, semolina and eggs. (The lovely fresh eggs were from The Egg Lassie’s Americauna chickens, raised in Echo Valley, just a few kilometres up the Alaska Highway from Whitehorse.)
I combined the method from one recipe and quantities from another, and though it was not an unmitigated success, here, for the record, is what I did, with corrections built in, now that I think I’ve figured out the mistakes (see below).
1 cup (240 ml) rose petal syrup, straight from the jar, no need to heat it
up (I had some left over from the 2009 harvest)
1 cup (240 ml) water
1 cup (240 ml) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) lemon juice
1/2 stick of cinnamon or 1/4 tsp (1 ml) rosewater
Combine first three ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the cinnamon or rosewater and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
1/2 cup (240 ml) semolina flour
4 cups (1 L) 2 % goat’s milk*
2 cups (480 ml) 35 percent cream*
5 eggs1 cup (240 ml) sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
2 Tbsp melted butter
* (The milk and cream combo was left over from the mascarpone experiment; normally you’d just use 2% milk from a cow, sheep or goat.)
Heat the milk over medium heat until warm, about 5 minutes, then gradually add semolina, whisking constantly. Allow to come to the boil, still whisking, until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the melted butter. Remove from heat and let cool slightly while you do the next step.
Beat the eggs until lemon coloured and foamy, about 4 minutes. Still beating, gradually add the sugar and beat until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat another minute.
Now add the warm milk and semolina mixture to the eggs, beating constantly. Set aside.
9 sheets commercial phyllo pastry1/3 cup (80 ml) unsalted butter
Unwrap the phyllo pastry, unfold it and lay it out on the counter under a kitchen towel or tea cloth to prevent it from drying out while you work. Melt the butter.
Lay one sheet of phyllo on the counter and brush with melted butter. Layer another sheet on top, brush with butter and repeat until you have 3 buttered sheets. Place in a deep 10-inch pie or cake pan, pressing lightly into the base of the pan.
Butter another three sheets, then lay them in the pan across the first three, like a cross—this is so there is a good few inches of phyllo hanging over the sides of the entire tin.
Pour the custard into the pan. Leave the phyllo hanging over the edge.
Lay another piece of phyllo on the counter, brush with butter, fold in half and brush with butter again. Place on the surface of the custard. Repeat with two more sheets of phyllo. Now tuck any corners of the top sheets over the custard, and fold the over-hanging bottom layers over the top layers.
Brush the whole top thoroughly with butter once more, and score the top couple of layers into diamond shapes with a very sharp knife. This is difficult to do, but persevere, because the pie will then be so much easier to cut after it’s baked.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
Place on a rack and pour the cooled syrup over top. Let sit until completely cooled, cut and serve.
The Expeditor: (always on the look-out for an alternative to chocolate) Unbelievably good. I love the slightly grainy texture of the custard. The flavour is exquisite, especially the hint of rose combined with vanilla.
The girlfriends, post moderately strenuous exercise:
The Sous-Chef: Oh, I’m having another piece! It doesn’t hurt your teeth. (The Sous-Chef had just returned from travels in eastern lands.)
The Egg Lassie: (who is of Scottish and Dutch descent) In Holland when someone has a birthday you buy a big box of individual pastries. Custard is often involved, and Dutch pastries are never too sweet. That’s what I like about this pie. I wouldmake this pie.
The Designer: I’m sorry, I’m going to eat the last piece.
Me: Sweet, mild and milky, and I love the occasional busting-out of rose flavour. The presentation has not yet achieved dinner party quality but for family and ravenous girlfriends it’s just the ticket.
Renovations and Revisions
So, what were the mistakes? 1) I didn’t wrap the bottom layers over the top layers 2) I beat the egg and sugar mixture until it was too big and airy, resulting in 3)the custard rose and rose in the oven, causing jubilation in the kitchen, but then it fell and fell as it cooled, leaving a gap between custard and the floating top layers—floating because the bottom layers weren’t folded overtop and 4) I had at least 2 cups of custard left over.
Next time I’ll try just 4 cups (1L) milk, 4 eggs and ½ cup semolina, and will beat the eggs only as long as indicated, above.
Readers and cooks, favour me with your comments and observations, should you try this one out chez toi.