Best Greek Pastry – Opah! It’s Delectable.

Chefs, Cooking, Event, Recipes By Jun 15, 2011

Crisp filo soaks up lemon-scented syrup. Inside? Luscious custard.

Kathy Gabriel along with other members of Irvine’s Saint Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church are in the midst of a cooking-baking marathon to prepare for the upcoming Taste of Greece Annual Festival (June 24, 25, and 26).

The festival offers everything from Greek folk dancing lessons to carnival rides, but to my way of thinking, it’s the vast array of delectable church-member-made food that is the primary draw.

So many galatobouriko secrets. The video details each and every one. Gabriel, Huntington Beach, says that most of her recipes are “old country Greek with a second generation spin.” Her version of galatobouriko is one of my favorites.

Rather than layering filo and custard in a baking dish the traditional way, she makes individual servings by rolling the filo burrito-style around the custard. The buttery filo browns beautifully and soaks up the lemony syrup, offering a delightful texture contrast to the creamy, vanilla-scented interior.

What’s your favorite Greek dessert?

Yield: 26 to 30 “rolls”
1 pound frozen filo sheets, thawed in refrigerator for 24 hours
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 lemon slices
2 quarts heated whole milk
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups fine semolina (any Mediterranean market will have semolina)
1 pound butter, divided use (2 tablespoons for custard filling, the rest for melting)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 dozen large eggs
Cook’s notes: Gabriel says that she likes put a seasonal spin on the dish. In spring, she adds 1 tablespoon finely minced orange zest to the custard; she garnishes the plates with a thin citrus slices. In summer, she garnishes with fresh berries and whipped cream. In fall and winter, she dusts each serving with powdered sugar and places a scoop of cinnamon ice cream on the side. Gabriel likes to freeze these pastries (unbaked) to have on hand for guests as needed. She bakes them frozen, adding a few more minutes of baking time.
1. Place thawed filo, still wrapped in box, at room temperature for 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, prepare syrup: In a large saucepan, combine sugar, water, lemon juice and slices. Bring to boil on high heat; reduce to medium or medium-low and simmer 15 minutes. Set aside to cool thoroughly. Syrup must be cool before pouring over hot pastry.
3. Prepare custard: In a large pot, combine hot milk, sugar and semolina; stir well to blend. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Stir in about 1 tablespoon of hot milk mixture, stirring constantly. Add another tablespoon hot milk mixture, stirring constantly. Continue in same manner, adding more of hot liquid to eggs, until eggs are warm. Stir egg mixture into milk mixture. Add 2 tablespoons butter and stir to combine.
4. Place custard mixture on low heat. Stirring constantly, heat until mixture starts to bubble; remove from heat. This will take some time, as much as 45 minutes if you start with cold milk rather than hot milk. Add vanilla and stir well to combine. Cool.
5. Melt remaining butter. Set next to work area, along with a pastry brush. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with melted butter.
6. Take filo out of the box, do not unwrap; cut in half crosswise. Open each half, unroll, fold in half and cut through the crease. So you started with sheets that were approximately 12-by-17-inches. Now they should be cut into equal-sized rectangles that are approximately 6-by-8 1/2-inches. Stack the filo rectangles and keep covered with plastic wrap or waxed paper and a slightly moist kitchen towel (to prevent filo from drying out). Do the same with the other half roll.
7. Preheat conventional oven to 400 degrees or a convection oven to 375 degrees. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush one rectangle with melted butter; place another rectangle on top and lightly brush with butter. Repeat with one more sheet of filo. You will have 3-buttered rectangles on top of one another. Put a heaping tablespoon of custard about 1/3 distance from the side that is closest to you. As you would when folding a burrito, fold the sides of the filo in and then roll loosely, moving away from you. You will have something that looks like a small cylinder. Place cylinder on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining filo and custard.
8. Lightly brush the top of each “roll” with melted butter. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Pour the cool syrup over the hot baked custard rolls (1 to 2 cups). Let stand for 20 minutes to soak up syrup.

Why does eating Greek food always make me feel like dancing?

TASTE OF GREECE : Saint Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church, 4949 Alton Parkway, Irvine. For more information, go to

1 Comment

  1. Koji D. Kanemoto says:

    What’s this? No taste test at the end? 🙂 That Gala(haha) dessert really sounds delicious.

Leave a comment