You’ll need to make the syrup first. In a medium pot, add water, sugar, Cinnamon Quills and lemon peel. Heat gently and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to low and let the syrup simmer for 10-15 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.
Syrup can also be prepared a day in advance and stored in the fridge.
To make the semolina custard
In a large deep pot, add only 1750ml of the milk at this stage, the Vanilla Bean Sugar, the Vanilla Extract, the caster sugar and the semolina. Stir constantly until the semolina begins to thicken the custard, approximately 15-20 minutes.
In a small jug, mix the remaining 250ml of milk with ½ cup of cornflour and mix until cornflour has dissolved. Pour the cornflour mixture into the custard mixture and cook for a further 5 minutes until the custard is thick and creamy.
Take the pot off the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Gently whisk the eggs together in a bowl then pour into the custard mixture, whisking vigorously until eggs are fully incorporated into the custard and they don’t curdle.
Preheat oven to 170°C (fan-forced). In a small pot, gently melt the unsalted butter. Brush your baking tin with melted butter.
Take out your filo pastry. Half the packet will form your bottom layer, the other half will be used for the top layer. (Tip: Keep your pile of filo pastry sheets covered with a slightly damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out as you’re working on your layers).
For your bottom layer, lay out your first piece of filo pastry on a clean work surface (such as a large chopping board or kitchen bench). Using a pastry brush, generously brush filo with melted butter then lay at bottom of the baking pan. Repeat with the next filo sheet. Depending on the size of your baking tray, you may want to adjust the position of each filo sheet you layer to ensure full coverage up the sides of the tray and even a slight overhang over the edges of the tray. These will later be folded back over the filling to encase it snugly.
Continue buttering and layering your filo sheets until you have used up half the packet.
Pour your custard filling into the baking tray. Cover filling with any overhanging layers of bottom pastry sheets. Proceed buttering and layering your top pastry sheets to cover the filling until all is used up. Gently tuck any excess pastry down the inner sides of the tray, encasing the custard filling snuggly.
With a sharp knife, score the top layers of pastry into your chosen serving size. (You may cut into squares, triangles or diamonds). Be careful not to cut too deep down so as not to cut into the custard.
Place in preheated oven on middle rack and bake for 40 minutes until the pastry is golden.
Take out of oven and pour the cooled syrup along the lines where you scored the pastry and around the inner edges of the baking tray. The aim is for the syrup to seep down into the bottom layers of the pie but the top layer stays crisp and golden. You may reserve some of your syrup to pour extra on top when serving.
Allow Galaktoboureko to sit for at least 1 hour before cutting and serving. Each Galaktoboureko slice can also be served with a dusting of ground cinnamon if desired.