In the mid-2000’s I was still living in Giannena, being at that time a doctoral student. At some point, I met a great guy from Canada that came with an exchange program to the university to spend a whole semester working in our laboratory. He was finishing his studies in medicine and before going ahead to plan his carrier as a medical doctor he wanted to obtain experience in basic research by working in a scientific lab. I remember Peter coming every morning in the lab holding in one hand a cup of coffee and in the other a triangular piece of a pie filled with a sweet cream. He was simply refusing to start his day before eating that pie.
Galatopita that translates to milk pie is a typical Greek custard made from milk, sugar, some type of flour, eggs, butter, and different aromatics like vanilla. You can find it either as a plain baked custard or wrapped inside filo pastry. In the second case, it is known mostly as sweet bougatsa. In Greece, it is usually eaten for breakfast, and you can get it in almost every bakery but also in shops that sell it specifically together with the savory version made with cheese. Typically, it is served with sprinkled cinnamon and/or powdered sugar.
In my opinion, the original recipe lists ingredients (like eggs and butter) that are not really necessary and do not compromise the final outcome. Therefore, my version is simpler and hence lighter.
The amounts listed here make a pie for a 28 cm-diameter baking pan
700 ml milk
a good pinch of salt
* Instead of semolina, plain white flour, as well as corn starch or rice flour, can be additionally used. However, the exact amounts to obtain the desired consistency might differ.
** The filling can be aromatised in various ways. Try to use whatever fits your taste from a combination of vanilla and lemon zest or clove and orange zest or cinnamon or cardamom or even nothing at all.
- Pour the milk and the sugar into a pot and heat in medium-to-high heat, stirring with a spatula.
- When it gets hot and starts smoking add the semolina and keep stirring for a few minutes until it starts to thicken to a cream consistency.
- Remove from fire, add the aromatics, mix, and let it cool down before using it.
(Optional: Lay on top some plastic wrap to prevent crust formation)
extra virgin olive oil
- Prepare the filo dough. Check here for a typical recipe. Roll out at least six thin filo sheets.
- To create the bottom crust, lay the first three sheets on top of each other onto a baking pan that has been brushed with olive oil. Let the edges from each filo to fall out all around the pan. Drizzle but not brush each layer of filo with some olive oil before applying the next.
- Pour the filling.
(Important: the filling should not be hot)
- Lay the rest three filo sheets on top to close the pie repeating the same process as before.
(In this case, fold irregularly by hand the filo sheets and do not let the edges falling out from the pan. In this way, you create additional layers that enhance the crispiness of the top crust after baking)
- Fold the edges of the bottom filo layers over with your fingers and tuck them to stick onto the top filo layers all the way around the pan as to seal the pie.
- Drizzle the surface with olive oil and with some water. With a fork or knife make some holes on the top crust to let the steam escape and avoid pie expansion during baking.
- Bake the pie in a pre-heated at 180 ºC oven for 45-60 min until the crust turns golden and crunchy.
- Let it cool down before cutting.