This recipe is from ‘The complete Middle Eastern cookbook’ by Tess Mallos 2005. The hints are from my very learned godmother who is a filo pastry guru.
Oven temp: 180C or 350F
1 cup sugar
Piece cinnamon bark
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1. Dissolve sugar in water over low heat, increase heat to medium and bring to boil. Add cinnamon bark and lemon juice for 10 minutes.
2. Cool syrup and strain.
3. Keep this aside for now.
4 cups milk (full cream)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup fine semolina
1/4 cup butter
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon. I used two peels of lemon
Piece of cinnamon bark. I used about 5cm long piece
Pinch of salt
5 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence. If you use a vanilla pod, use this instead. I used plain old essense.
10 sheets fillo pastry. I’m an Antoniou brand devotee.
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter. The fillo baking gurus insist on using unsalted butter, but the choice is yours.
1. Mix milk, sugar, semolina, butter, lemon rind, cinnamon bark and salt in a heavy-based saucepan and heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Let custard bubble gently over low heat for 5 minutes.
2. Take from heat and remove cinnamon stick. I take the cinnamon stick out before the custard begins to thicken. Cover with a piece of buttered paper to prevent skin forming. I use baking sheets so I have less mess. This also peels off easily. When cool, blend in eggs and vanilla essence.
3. Butter a 33 x 23 cm (13 x 9inch) oven dish. I use alfoil dishes because I usually make this dish as a gift, hence no need to retrieve a loved container later. Place half of the fillo pastry sheets in the dish, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Once you get used to the way the pastry sheets handle, this will be easy to do in future.
4. Pour custard and top with remaining sheets, again brushing each with butter as it is plae in position. Brush top with remaining butter and score through top three sheets of fillip in 3″ squares or diamonds. Sprinkle top lightly with water. I think this stops the pastry from shrinking.
5. Trim edges and bake in moderate oven for 45 minutes until the pasty is golden brown and custard is set when tested with a knife. I tucked the edges under as I don’t like to waste pastry.
6. Remove from oven. Then I spooned on cold syrup over the hot dish so it was evenly distributed.
Serve cold with coffee.
Now the trick here is to let this to cool throughly before covering it and then placing it in the fridge. If it is covered before it cools, the steam condenses on the lid and then wets the pastry. This makes the pastry soft.
Enjoy yours soon and eat responsibly. Stopping at just one piece is advised but it’s more important to enjoy the company over a piece of pie.