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Traditional Greek Custard Pie Galaktoboureko (Easy + Tips)

If you’re a custard lover, you’ll definitely love this traditional Greek dessert! Galaktoboureko is a creamy vanilla custard pie that’s encased in crispy phyllo dough and drenched in a delicious, flavored syrup. 

traditional greek custard pie galaktoboureko on a plate and in a pan on a white countertop with cinnamon sticks and dried roses

Galaktoboureko (pronounced ga-la-kto-BOU-re-ko) is one of the most popular of all Greek pastries! This dessert is not only popular in Greece! You will also find variations of it in Turkey and Syria, too!

What Galaktoboureko tastes like

It’s basically a velvety custard baked in layers and layers of buttery, crunchy phyllo dough and topped with syrup. The vanilla custard is similar to pastry cream and it’s not “eggy” at all. Despite the amount of aromatic syrup, I find it tastes lighter than most other traditional Greek desserts.

The recipe in this post is a slightly adapted one by Stelios Parliaros, a very famous Greek pastry chef. Stelios Parliaros is one of my favorite pastry chefs! He’s an absolute culinary genius! He has many different recipes for Galaktoboureko, but this one is my favorite! I’ve been making it for many years and it’s practically foolproof! It’s a family favorite and it has never let me down!

WHAT MAKES THIS RECIPE STAND OUT FROM TRADITIONAL ONES

There are 3 main things that makes this recipe unique:

  1. There is NO semolina flour in it! Traditional Greek Galaktoboureko is made with semolina flour, which is a coarse flour made from durum wheat. To me, semolina flour makes the custard too grainy. So, for this recipe, I don’t use any semolina flour at all!  As a result, it’s a whole lot EASIER to make and the custard has a really smooth, creamy texture.
  2. This recipe uses vanilla bean powder instead of vanilla essence. You can still make a wonderful Galaktoboureko with vanilla essence, but I find that vanilla bean powder gives it a more intense vanilla flavor, which is amazing! If you want, you could scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean. I also love all those tiny black specks of vanilla. For me, vanilla bean powder is a lot more convenient and much easier to use, so it has become a staple in my kitchen! I use it for Vanilla no churn ice cream and vanilla sugar.
  3. This recipe WORKS! Even if you’ve never made Galaktoboureko before, you can easily follow my steps, picture tutorials and tips and still feel confident enough to make this amazing Greek dessert! It’s definitely worth the time and effort!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do you store Galaktoboureko?

It’s best served at room temperature, preferably on the same day it was made. If you want to keep it longer than that, you can refrigerate it for up to 4-5 days.

How long does it last in the refrigerator?

You can keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, but keep in mind that the phyllo won’t be as crunchy. 

How do you keep it crispy?

The best way is NOT to put it in the fridge at all! Refrigeration will soften the phyllo dough. So, if you like it crispy, I suggest eating it on the same day it’s made.

Can you reheat it ?

Although most people I know enjoy it at room temperature or straight out of the fridge, you could reheat it in the microwave a bit if you prefer.

Can it be frozen?

I’ve never tried freezing it before as I think it will get too soggy and fall apart. I never needed to freeze it, either, because it’s usually gone within 2 or 3 days!

What you’ll need to make Galaktoboureko:

Eggs & egg yolks

Butter 

Cornstarch

Sugar

Vanilla bean powder or vanilla extract

Milk & heavy cream

1 package phyllo dough

lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick 

TIPS FOR LAYERING THE PHYLLO DOUGH SHEETS & ASSEMBLING THE DESSERT

As with all desserts made with phyllo dough, you have to work fast because the phyllo will dry out quickly. Once you remove the sheets from the package, cover them with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out. 

Begin layering by putting a sheet of phyllo dough in the pan so that it fits nice and snug in a corner of the pan, while the remaining sheet extends and hangs over the other sides of the pan. After that, drizzle with butter so it won’t dry out. Continue layering this way, moving clockwise, so that by the time you add all the sheets, all the sides of the pan will have overlapping sheets of phyllo dough. 

When there are no more sheets left, you add the filling and even it out. Then you fold over the sheets, one at a time and buttering each one. 

The reason I layer the sheets this way is to ensure that the filling won’t ooze out while it’s baking. 

Also, don’t worry if the phyllo dough tears a bit as you’re layering, it won’t make any difference after it’s baked. Just make sure to butter the sheets well.

WHAT SIZE PAN TO USE

The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t really have to worry about pan sizes. This dessert can be made in just about any pan, square, rectangle or round! You could even use a lasagna dish! The only thing you need to remember is that the smaller your pan, the thicker the dessert will be.

For the pictures in this post, I used a 10 x 12 inch (25 X 30 cm) pan, so the pieces were quite thick – about 2.5 inches (6.3 cm)! If I were to use a bigger pan, the dessert would be much thinner, of course. So, it’s really a matter of preference. 

HOW TO MAKE GALAKTOBOUREKO 

how to make galaktoboureko 10 steps, traditional vanilla custard pie

 

TIPS FOR THE BEST GALAKTOBOUREKO

  • Use good quality butter and phyllo dough.
  • Don’t skimp on the butter. Phyllo dough should be very well-buttered, so you’ll need all the butter that’s listed!
  • The lemon juice in the syrup helps prevent crystals from forming. If crystals form in the syrup, they can make the syrup grainy, so lemon juice helps avoid that.
  • You will need to pour the cold syrup on the dessert as soon as it comes out of the oven. If you want, you could make the syrup a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.
  • You shouldn’t overcook the filling since it will be in the oven for at least an hour. Take it off the heat as soon as it thickens.
  • As soon as the filling has thickened, take it off the heat and place some plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a crust from forming. Then let it cool slightly before pouring it in the prepared pan.
  • You will need to bake this dessert for 60-80 minutes. However, ovens vary. I suggest checking on it after an hour. It’s ready when the phyllo turns a nice golden brown color, as shown in the pictures.
  • I find it’s best to score the top before baking as it will allow the sheets to bake more evenly that way. It also makes it easier to cut into pieces when it’s done.
  • Don’t add the syrup all at once. Add a ladle at a time and wait awhile for the dessert to absorb it before adding more.
  • The amount of syrup for this dessert is what’s traditionally used and the sweetness is not overpowering. However, if you prefer less syrup, I suggest pouring a little syrup over the dessert. Then wait for it to be absorbed and taste it to see if you want more syrup or not.
  • After the syrup is added, let the Galaktoboureko sit for about an hour before serving. This will give it plenty of time to absorb the syrup and develop the flavors. Also, it won’t fall apart because it will have time to solidify a bit as it cools.
  • This dessert is best eaten the day it’s made. If you refrigerate it, the phyllo dough will soften and lose its crunchiness, but it’ll still taste great.

a close-up of a piece of galaktoboureko on a plate with a pan in the background

VARIATIONS

You can flavor the syrup for a richer or distinctive flavor. Here are a few ideas:

  • Add a shot of cognac or Grand Marnier.
  • Add a teaspoon of rosewater for a more exotic flavor, just make sure it’s food grade.
  • Add a lemon or orange peel for a nice, citrus overtone.

traditional greek custard pie galaktoboureko on a plate and in a pan on a white countertop with cinnamon sticks and dried roses

MORE GREEK RECIPES!

 

Let me know how this Galaktoboureko turns out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

~Voula 

 

Traditional Greek Custard Pie Galaktoboureko (Easy + Tips)

If you’re a custard lover, you’ll definitely love this traditional Greek dessert! Galaktoboureko is a creamy vanilla custard pie that’s encased in crispy phyllo dough and drenched in a delicious, flavored syrup. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Greek, vanilla, custard, phyllo dough, galaktoboureko, syrup dessert
Servings: 8 large or 16 small pieces

Ingredients

For the syrup

  • 2 ½ cups (500 g) white sugar
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (300 ml) water
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the vanilla custard filling

  • 2 ¾ cups (700 ml) milk 
  • 1 ¼ cup (300 ml) heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon (160 g / 5.6 oz) sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 g / 2.8 oz) cornstarch

For assembling the pie

  • 1 package phyllo dough (about 12-14 sheets), thawed
  • 1 cup (250 g) butter, melted 

Instructions

Make the syrup

  • Put all the ingredients for the syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a rapid boil. Boil for EXACTLY 4 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside.

Make the vanilla custard filling

  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk, cream, vanilla bean powder or vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Whisk on medium heat to combine, but don't bring to a boil.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, cornstarch, whole eggs and egg yolks. 
  • Pour some of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk to combine.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the cream and and whisk on medium heat until it thickens, about 2-4 minutes. When it thickens, take it off the heat and place some plastic wrap on the surface to prevent crusting.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F / 165°C.

Assemble the pie

  • Generously butter your pan.
  • Place a sheet of phyllo in the pan letting it hang over the other sides (left side and top).  Butter the sheet well.
  • Add another sheet and let it hang over the top and right side of the pan. Gently press it in the corners and sides. Butter it well.
  • Continue moving clockwise with the remaining sheets so that you end up with sheets overhanging on all sides of the pan. 
  • When there are no more sheets left, add the filling and even it out. 
  • Fold the sheets over the filling, one at a time, and butter each one well.
  • Score the top of the pie.
  • Bake for 60-80 minutes, until it's golden brown.
  • When done, remove from the oven and pour the cold syrup evenly over it. Don’t add the syrup all at once. Add a ladle at a time and wait a bit for the dessert to absorb it before adding more*.
  • Let the dessert sit for about an hour before serving. 
  • This dessert is best eaten the day it’s made. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days**.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

*The amount of syrup for this dessert is what’s traditionally used and the sweetness is not overpowering. However, if you prefer less syrup, I suggest pouring a little syrup over the dessert. Then wait for it to be absorbed and taste it to see if you want more syrup or not.
**When refrigerated, the phyllo dough will soften and lose its crunchiness, but it’ll still taste great.
© Pastry Wishes

Fresh Peach Upside-down Cake

This delicious summer cake is amazingly moist, buttery, and lightly spiced! It’s made with fresh peaches and a luscious, bourbon caramel topping.

fresh peach upside down cake

Peach season is officially here! This simple, yet impressive summer dessert is a great way to enjoy fresh peaches.

This fresh peach upside-down cake is always a crowd-pleaser!

What I love the most, though, is the bourbon caramel topping! It’s absolutely AMAZING! You don’t taste the bourbon in the cake, but together with the cinnamon and nutmeg, I think it really adds a nice subtle twist to the overall flavor!

You will absolutely LOVE this recipe because:

  • it’s insanely easy to make. 
  • you don’t have to line the pan with parchment paper.
  • you don’t have to peel the fruit.
  • it’s not overly sweet, so it’s perfect with ice cream or whipped cream, or even on its own, especially cold!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Bourbon
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Fresh Peaches
  • All-purpose flour
  • Finely ground almonds
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk
  • Vanilla

Before you start, you need to slice the peaches. 

How to evenly cut peaches without bruising them:

Using a sharp knife, start from the top of the peach and make one large cut all around it. 

Then use both hands to twist the peach open to get 2 halves. Remove the pit and slice each peach half into 4 even slices.

HOW TO MAKE FRESH PEACH UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

After you make the bourbon caramel topping follow these simple steps:

upside-down peach cake steps

Then you bake the cake and flip it onto a serving platter or plate.

HOW TO STORE FRESH PEACH UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

You can either store this cake in the refrigerator or freezer.

REFRIGERATOR

Store the cake covered, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I think it’s great cold, but if you want, you could heat it up in the microwave for about 30 seconds before serving.

FREEZER

I usually wrap individual pieces of cake in 1 or 2 freezer bags and then store them in the freezer for up to 2 months – just make sure they’re completely cooled. To thaw, just put them in the refrigerator overnight.

MORE FUN OPTIONS & SUBSTITUTES

  • For a more gourmet touch, you could sprinkle about 2-3 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the baked cake and then caramelize it using a kitchen torch or your oven broiler. It will create a nice crunchy sugar topping that will stay crunchy for about an hour or so.
  • Walnuts, sliced almonds, or pecans would be DIVINE with this cake!
  • Instead of bourbon, you can use cognac for the caramel topping (or your favorite whiskey).
  • You could also replace the vanilla with almond extract or some more bourbon!

fresh peach upside down cake

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • Don’t overmix the batter as this could make the cake dense, rather than light and fluffy. 
  • I use a 10 inch springform pan for this recipe. If you use a smaller pan, you might have some extra cake batter left over, in which case you could make a few cupcakes with it. Whatever pan you use, make sure you fill the batter no more than two-thirds of the way full. If you overfill your pan, the batter could spill out while baking!
  • I suggest baking the cake on a baking sheet just in case some of the caramel leaks from the springform pan. I always use a pizza pan for this. 
  • When the cake comes out of the oven, let it sit in the pan for about 5-10 minutes before inverting it. 
  • This cake is best served cold the next day, but you could serve it warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if you like.

Let me know how this Fresh Peach Upside-down Cake turns out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

~Voula 😃

fresh peach upside down cake

Fresh Peach Upside-down Cake

This delicious summer cake is amazingly moist, buttery, and lightly spiced! It’s made with fresh peaches and a luscious, bourbon caramel topping.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fresh, peach, upside-down, cake, summer, bourbon caramel
Servings: 10 -12

Equipment

  • 10 inch (25.5 cm) springform pan

Ingredients

For the bourbon caramel

  • ½ cup (100 g / 3.6 oz) packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 g / 1.8 oz) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup (50 ml / 1.7 fl oz)  bourbon
  • ½  cup (125 ml / 4 fl oz)  water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

For the cake

  • 2-3 fresh, ripe, but firm peaches, skins on, washed & pitted, each cut into 8 slices
  • 2 cups (254 g / 9 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (50 g / 1.8 oz) finely ground almonds
  • ½ cup (113 g / 4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 g / 5.3 oz) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (or see the NOTES below on how to make your own)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F / 175 °C.
  • If you're making your own buttermilk, see the NOTE below and make it now. Set aside.

Make the bourbon caramel topping

  • Combine the water, butter, sugar, bourbon, nutmeg, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan or pot. Simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes until it thickens and turns brown. 

Arrange the peach slices

  • Discard the cinnamon stick and pour the caramel all over the bottom of the pan. Arrange the peaches in a single layer over the caramel, covering the whole surface. Set aside.

Make the cake batter

  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and ground almonds. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined. On low speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately until just combined. Don’t overmix.
  • Spread the batter evenly over the peaches, making sure to cover the entire surface.
  • Place the pan on a baking sheet just in case some of the caramel leaks out.
  • Bake for 50 - 70 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick in the middle of the cake comes out clean. 
  • Allow the cake to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan.

Flip the cake

  • Run a knife or spatula around the edge of the pan.
  • Place a serving platter or large plate on top of the cake and carefully flip the cake over. Let it sit for a few seconds and then unlatch the pan and gently lift it.
  • Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Or allow it to cool completely, refrigerate it, and serve it the next day.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

How to make your own buttermilk for this recipe:
Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a measuring cup and fill it with enough milk to make 1 cup. Stir well and let it sit for 5-8 minutes before using.
Store in Refrigerator
Store the cake covered, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 
Store in Freezer
Wrap individual pieces of cake in 1 or 2 freezer bags and then store them in the freezer for up to 2 months – just make sure they’re completely cooled. To thaw, put them in the refrigerator overnight.
This cake is best served cold the next day. 
© Pastry Wishes

Easy Blueberry Pie (With Lattice & Crimp Tutorial)

This homemade blueberry pie is loaded with juicy blueberries and baked inside a flaky, buttery crust! A delicious summer dessert that’ll wow your guests!

blueberry pie

Blueberry season is here! Take advantage of  it by making this amazing pie!  If fresh blueberries are unavailable, you can use frozen blueberries, instead! This recipe is simple and remarkably delicious!

What you’ll need to make Blueberry Pie.

Blueberries: Fresh or frozen.

Spices: I use cinnamon.

Lemon: I use some juice & zest.

Sugar: I use both white & brown sugar.

Butter: I use unsalted butter.

Flour: I use all-purpose flour.

Salt: I use a bit for the crust.

Cornstarch: I use some for the filling.

Egg & milk: I use these to make an egg wash to brush the pie before baking.

HOW TO MAKE BLUEBERRY PIE

The first thing to do is to make the filling. Then you make the pie crust.  I find it easier to use a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can make it by hand using a pastry blender. If you don’t have a pastry blender, you’ll need 2 knives or forks to cut the butter in the flour. This recipe is for 2 pie crusts (one for the bottom & one for the top).

After that, line your pie plate with the dough and crimp it.

How do you crimp a single pie crust?

Crimping the pie crust isn’t really necessary, but it really makes the pie look pretty. Here’s a photo tutorial on how to do it:

 

pie crimp

Then fill the pie crust with the filling and top it with a lattice crust.

How do you make a lattice pie crust?

For the photo tutorial, I used 4 strips, but you could use 5 or more, depending on how wide you make your strips.

Here’s how to make a lattice crust:

how to make a lattice crust

TOP TIP

  • If you tear any of the strips while making the lattice crust, just use a cookie cutter to make different shapes with the excess dough and place them on the pie. No one will ever know!
  • I like rolling out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper. That way I don’t have to flour my surface and it just makes cleanup a lot easier.
  • Making the pie crust may not be super quick, but it is SOOO worth it! Trust me, you won’t regret it! Nothing beats homemade pie crust!
  • Place the pie on a baking sheet in case it spills over while baking. I like using a pizza pan for this.

blueberry pie

VARIATIONS

This pie is also amazing with a cinnamon crust!

Just add 1/2 a tablespoon of ground cinnamon + 1/2 a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, and a pinch of ground cloves to the flour before making the pie crust.

blueberry pie

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • You need to give the pie some time to set before cutting it. I usually cut it the next day. However, if you don’t want to wait that long, wait at least 2-3 hours before serving, otherwise it will fall apart.
  • If the berries are too tart, add a little more sugar to the filling.
  • When using frozen berries, I like to thaw and drain them before making the filling. If you like a juicier pie, you can omit this step. Personally, I like perky pies, not runny ones!

Let me know how this Easy Blueberry pie turns out for you in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

 ~ Voula

Easy Blueberry Pie (With Lattice & Crimp Tutorial)

This homemade blueberry pie is loaded with juicy blueberries and baked inside a flaky, buttery crust! A delicious summer dessert that'll wow your guests!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: blueberry, homemade pie crust, pie, summer,
Servings: 1 9-inch pie

Ingredients

For the homemade pie crust

  • 2 ½ cups (315 g) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6-8 tablespoons cold milk

For the filling

  • 4 ½ cups (615 g) blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

For the topping

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons light brown sugar

Instructions

Make the pie crust

  • Add the flour, salt and butter to a food processor. Pulse about 10-12 times, or until the butter is the size of peas.*
  • Add 3 tablespoons of the milk and pulse a few times until a dough forms, adding more milk if necessary. Do not overmix.
  • Divide the dough in two and wrap in plastic wrap. Gently flatten into 2 disks. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Roll out the dough to fit a 9-inch pie plate. I like putting the disk between 2 sheets of parchment paper to do this.
  • Put an inverted pie plate over the rolled out dough and cut about 2 inches (5 cm) around it.
  • Flip the pie plate over and fold any excess dough back to create a "wall".
  • Crimp the dough all around the pie plate by pressing your knuckle from one hand while pinching over it with your thumb and forefinger of your other hand.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 ° F / 190°C.

Make the filling

  • In a large bowl, gently toss the blueberries with the sugar, salt, cinnamon and cornstarch. Drain any excess liquid and add the filling to the bottom crust.

Make the lattice crust (see the photo tutorial in the post)

  • Roll out the remaining dough and cut it into even strips.
  • Top the filling with 4 strips, vertically.
  • Lift strip #1 and #3 and place another strip, horizontally. Cover the horizontal strip with vertical strip #1 and #3.
  • Repeat with vertical strips #2 and #4.
  • Cut off excess dough and fix the edges. Make different shapes out of the excess dough, if desired, and top the pie.

Make the egg wash

  • Add the milk to the beaten egg and brush the pie with it. Then sprinkle with the brown sugar.
  • Place the pie on a baking sheet or pizza pan and bake for about an hour. You'll know it's done when the filling bubbles.
  • Allow the pie to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5-6 days.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

If you don't have a food processor to make the pie crust, you can use a pastry blender or 2 knives or forks to cut the butter into the flour and continue with the remaining steps.

 

 

 

HOW TO MAKE ANCIENT GREEK SESAME BARS (Pasteli)

These delicious sesame bars have been a part of the Greek culinary tradition since ancient times! You only need 2 ingredients to make this nutritious, ancient Greek superfood known today as Pasteli!

ancient greek sesame bars with honey

Pasteli is a classic, Greek snack! Not only is it delicious, but it’s healthy, too!  It’s an incredible treat dating back to ancient Greece!

Sweets in ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, honey was believed to have come from the gods. It comes as no surprise that the ancient Greeks used honey for so many things since granulated sugar did not exist in ancient Greece; it arrived many centuries later. One popular honey and sesame seed delicacy was called Sisami (pronounced see-SA-mee), which is basically what modern-day Greeks refer to as Pasteli.

What is Pasteli?

Pasteli (pronounced pa-STE-lee) is a bar made with sesame seeds and honey. Various ancient Greek texts mention it, including Homer’s Iliad, where it was popular among the warriors. The father of history, Herodotus, also referred to it as “sweet cakes of sesame and honey”.

Variations of Pasteli today

Today, there are variations of Pasteli in the Middle East and around the Mediterranean, too.

In Greece, there is Pasteli made with sugar and/or a combination of nuts and spices. Pasteli made with sugar is hard and crunchy, almost like brittle. Pasteli made with just honey is much softer and chewier.  The recipe in this post uses honey instead of sugar.

Why I think you’ll love this homemade pasteli:

  • There are only 2 main ingredients, with a few optional add-ins.
  • It’s quick.
  • It’s pretty straightforward.
  • It’s very healthy.
  • It tastes great!

The health benefits of Pasteli

Sesame is known to be a great source of fiber, plant protein, and B vitamins. Pasteli is also rich in antioxidants, which are beneficial for overall health.

What you’ll need to make Pasteli

All you need is honey and sesame seeds. I always use good quality Greek honey. I briefly talk about the benefits of Greek honey in this post. Whenever I make desserts with honey, I find that the quality of the honey really makes a huge difference in the overall flavor. So, if you can’t get Greek honey, get the best honey you can or one you like!

How do you make Pasteli?

Different parts of Greece use different methods. Some areas make Pasteli in large metal pots and then the mixture is poured over a large marble slab or wooden board. Then it’s evened out and beaten with a wooden pin to the desired thickness.

Of course, these traditional methods aren’t really ideal for an ordinary kitchen! I have found a much easier way to make it at home.

First of all, I use a nonstick frying pan. It makes cleanup A LOT easier. I also like putting the pasteli in a square pan lined with parchment paper. That way, I can just lift it out and then cut it when it’s ready.

Here’s what I do:

pasteli steps

If you don’t mind uneven slices, don’t use a pan at all! You can just spoon it onto a large sheet of parchment paper, but don’t touch it with your bare hands because it’s very hot!

Why use a pan?

A pan lets me make Pasteli as thick as I want. For example, a small pan will make thicker bars, whereas a larger pan will make thin ones. For this recipe, I used a 9 ½ inch (24.5 cm) pan and the bars came out to about ½ an inch (1 cm) thick. So, if you’re going to use a pan, pick one depending on how thick or thin you want your bars to be.

pasteli ancient greek sesame bars with honey

Add-ins

Here are a few ideas for add-ins to add more flavor:

  • orange or lemon zest
  • almonds, peanuts, or pistachio nuts
  • ground nutmeg
  • wine
  • black pepper – Ancient Greeks used to put a lot of black pepper in a sweet called gastris! Some parts of Greece today still add black pepper to Pasteli! You might want to give it a try!

 TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • I toast the sesame seeds in a nonstick pan, but you could toast them in the oven (350°F / 180°C) for about 15 minutes.
  • Don’t overcook the Pasteli, otherwise it may become hard.
  • When you spoon the mixture into the pan, don’t touch it! It’s very hot!
  • Cut into bars or squares after about 15-20 minutes. If you wait longer than that, it will be too hard to cut.
  • Store it in an air-tight container at room temperature with sheets of parchment paper between each bar to prevent them from sticking together.

MORE GREEK DESSERTS!

Let me know how this Pasteli turned out for you in the comments below!

I’d love to hear from you!

~Voula

pasteli ancient greek sesame bars with honey
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5 from 1 vote

HOW TO MAKE ANCIENT GREEK SESAME BARS (Pasteli)

These delicious sesame bars have been a part of the Greek culinary tradition since ancient times! You only need 2 ingredients to make this nutritious, ancient Greek superfood known today as Pasteli!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time6 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: ancient Greek, healthy, refined sugar free, honey, sesame

Ingredients

  • 200 g (7 oz) sesame seeds
  • 200 g (7 oz) good quality (Greek) honey
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Line a pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a nonstick pan, until light golden brown. Put the toasted seeds in a bowl. Set aside.
  • In the same nonstick pan, heat the honey on medium heat until it bubbles and foams.
  • Add the seeds and all the remaining ingredients and stir continuously until the mixture thickens and isn't runny (about 5-6 minutes).
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and even it out with the back of a spoon. DON'T TOUCH THE MIXTURE WITH YOUR BARE HANDS - IT'S VERY HOT!
  • Put a piece of parchment paper on top and press down to flatten and even out the surface.
  • After about 15-20 minutes, it should easily bend and hold its shape. Lift it out of the pan and cut into bars or squares.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature with pieces of parchment paper between each bar/square.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Instead of toasting the sesame seeds in a nonstick pan,  you could toast them in the oven (350°F / 180°C) for about 15 minutes.
  • Don't overcook the mixture, otherwise it may become hard.
  • Cut the Pasteli into bars or squares after about 10-20 minutes. If you wait longer than that, it will be too hard to cut.
  • Pasteli is best on the day it’s made. It becomes a little bit harder the next day, but it still retains its chewiness.
© Pastry Wishes