Layered sheets of buttered filo dough baked with a lemon custard in the center. After it’s taken out of the oven, a honey lemon syrup is poured over the entire thing and allowed to soak for an hour before serving. The result is an incredibly rich and refreshing dessert, delicious served both warm and chilled. —Eva Kosmas Flores
eggs, well beaten
finely grated lemon zest
fresh-squeezed lemon juice
(9 x 14-inch) sheets of filo dough, thawed if frozen
Begin by preparing the custard. In a medium saucepot, heat the milk over low heat for 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Add the sugar, semolina flour, and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup of the milk mixture with the beaten eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk constantly for another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until combined. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a small sharp knife, cut an 8-inch diameter circle out of a stack of 10 stack filo dough sheets set them underneath the pile of normal rectangular filo to keep them from drying out. On a flat and clean working surface, lay down one sheet of the rectangular filo dough and lightly brush it with the melted butter. Place the slightly damp towel on the stack of filo dough waiting to be brushed to keep them from becoming dry and brittle. Lay the filo in the cake pan so that the ends hang over the edge of the pan on both sides.
Use the pastry brush to gently brush the filo against the sides of the cake pan so that it is snug with the corners. Repeat with another layer of rectangular filo, but place it so that it’s edges hang off the bare side of the pan, creating a criss-cross. Repeat this with 20 sheets of rectangular filo so that the edge of the pan is covered with filo hanging off of it and you cannot see any bare edge.
Whisk the custard to mix it back up a bit, then pour it into the cake pan. Fold the filo that’s been hanging over the edges back over the custard mixture, being careful not to submerge it in the custard. You want it to lay relatively flat over the custard mixture, encasing it. Lightly brush the top with butter.
Lightly brush a circular filo sheet with butter and place it on top of the folded filo. Repeat until all 10 sheets of the circular filo are on the galaktoboureko. Use the end of a blunt butter knife to tuck the edges of the circular filo down into the pan so the cover is nice and snug. Use a sharp knife to cut 4 small vent holes in the center of the filo, making sure it pierces down into the custard layer, otherwise the air will make the filo rise up into a dome and eventually cause a tear somewhere in the dough.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the filo is golden brown and the custard is set
While the custard is baking, prepare the syrup. Bring the sugar, honey, water, and lemon juice to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat and allot to simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, then place in the refrigerator.
Once the custard is finished baking, remove it from the oven and immediately pour the syrup into the pan over the top of the galaktoboureko. Allow it to soak in the syrup for 1 hour, then slice and serve.