Try our Greek flan with semolina custard, cinnamon and cranberries… It is the best!

We love greek custard-based desserts -such as the one called galaktoboureko and another one named bougatsa– and of course we adore tarts… We combined all those in our own tart with semolina custard, light and delicious!

Greek flan with semolina custard and cranberries, right out of the oven

One day we had a craving for a dessert with the fluffy, sweet cream of galaktoboureko, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Something like a galaktoboureko without the syrup… Like a bougatsa without the phyllo dough… I got into some serious thinking… And then I remembered! A flan could solve all of our problems!

Greek bougatsa sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon, cut in pieces
Greek bougatsa sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon
A piece of traditional Greek galaktoboureko with syrup
Traditional Greek galaktoboureko with syrup

Flan is a pie, with a sponge cake or puff pastry base and a sweet or savoury custard filling. Around the world it comes in many forms: in English they call it custard tart, in France they make the savoury quiche lorraine and the sweet flan parisien, in Portugal the dessert comes in small sizes: the pasteis de nata. In South Africa they call it melktert (milky tart), in Mexico flan Mexicano, while in Greece we have the traditional galatopita.

Flan Parisien from Christophe Michalak's shop in Paris
Flan Parisien from Christophe Michalak’s shop in Paris
A piece of Custard Tart on a white plate by Marcus Wareing, awarded as Remy Martin Best Dessert in 2012
Custard Tart by Marcus Wareing, awarded as Remy Martin Best Dessert in 2012
A Portuguese pastel de nata
A Portuguese pastel de nata

Having done some reading around the history of the flan, we learned that it originates from the Ancient Romans -as does its egg-based custard filling- but they preferred savoury flavors, even though they used to make a sweet variation with honey and pepper. The Romans were the first to breed chickens for their nutrition. Ancient Greek did also make a pie with milk and flour, called amis, as mentioned by Giannis Lemonis.

Having conquered Europe, the Romans brought flan together, and it became very popular in the Middle Ages. In an Italian cookery book of the 15th century, custard-based food is described as being healthy. In an article about flan history, we found out that the Spanish added caramel, while the Moors are to thank for adding citrus fruit and almonds. The Europeans brought flan to America and since then it became a favourite, especially in Mexico where they eat flan Mexicano almost every day.

A piece of Authentic flan Mexicano on a white plate
Authentic flan Mexicano

According to Madame Ginger, in the evolution of Greek galatopita, a great role played the large surplus of milk in places with dairy production, such as Ioannina in Epirus. There, housewives used to make pies with phyllo dough, semolina cream, eggs and sheep’s butter, cinnamon and sugar.

A piece of "Grandma's" Greek traditional galatopita on a ceramic plate with a spatula
“Grandma’s” Greek traditional galatopita

We can make traditional galatopita with or without phyllo dough, and it comes in many variations depending on the region. We can even make vegan galatopita, by substituting dairy for other alternatives.

What we wanted to borrow from galatopita was its rich taste, the scent of cinnamon and its velvety texture. As we had a half portion of tart dough in the freezer and we like to experiment with variations, we decided to give it a touch of flan parisien. We couldn’t resist adding some cranberries, for some freshness. It came out great, I promise!

Greek flan with semolina custard, cinnamon and cranberries

Our recipe

Ingredients for the tart dough (pâte sucrée)

Butter (room temp.)170 g
Powdered sugar110 g
Walnut flour (or other)40 g
Cale flour (sifted)315 g
Eggs65 g (1+a little)
Vanilla extract2-3 drops
Salt1/4 tsp

Method for the tart dough

Having baked a lot of tarts, we came to the conclusion that the technique described in our favourite book “The Art of French Pastry” by Jacquy Pfeiffer is the best.

Το εξώφυλλο και το οπισθόφυλλο από το αγαπημένο βιβλίο μας, The Art of French Pastry του βραβευμένου σεφ J. Pfeiffer
Our favourite book “The Art of French Pastry” by the awarded chef J. Pfeiffer

First, cream the softened butter with the salt in the mixer (or by hand if we can stand it) at medium speed for 1 minute. Then add the powdered sugar and beat at low speed, just until all is incorporated. We use powdered sugar, because it is easier to dissolve, so it won’t need a lot of beating. In that way we eliminate the danger of developing the gluten (a protein that makes dough elastic). Higher temperatures also help gluten development, so we want to mix the dough as fast as possible.

The tart dough in a bowl with a spatula

Add the walnut flour and the vanilla extract and beat at low speed to incorporate. Add the eggs gradually with 1/4 of the flour and beat just until incorporated. Continue with the rest of the flour, mixing the dough by hand (better wear gloves because at the beginning the dough is very sticky). Be careful not to knead too much, just as much is necessary for a uniform, soft dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for 2-3 hours, or even better overnight -if you are an organized type of person and have planned your time in advance. Luckily we just need half of it, so you’ll have the rest in the freezer, chilled for next time -as long as you remember to defrost it!

When the dough has chilled enough, it is time to spread it into the pan: put half the amount of dough between two sheets of baking paper (or silicone mats) and roll it with a rolling pin until half a centimeter thick. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle it with a small amount of flour, not too much because that may harden it. Remove the baking paper on top and transfer the dough into the pan by flipping it. Then, remove the second baking paper and cut the excess dough from the sides.

Watch out! It is crucial to leave the dough to slide on the sides of the tart pan on its own, without pushing it, leaving no empty space below it. That way, it will keep its shape during baking, with no need for blind baking with weight (such as beans).

With the leftover dough you can make cutout biscuits to make your tart pretty (or simply to eat). We made some with a bear coupat, because Rupert asked for it!

Rupert, two coupat pieces, a rolling bin and a cookie box in the back

Now, make holes on the bottom of the tart with a fork, so that during baking the air escapes and doesn’t cause bubbles. Place the tart and the cookies in the refrigerator for an hour at least. Then, bake the tart in a preheated oven (180°C), at the middle rack, for 15 minutes. As for the biscuits, we’ll need them later.

The pre-baked tart with fork holes on the bottom

Ingredients for the semolina custard

We borrowed the basic recipe from a galaktoboureko recipe by Stelios Parliaros and it was an absolute success!

Full-fat milk1 lt
Sugar250 g
Semolina flour120 g
Eggs4
Cranberries100 g
Cinnamon
Vanilla extract3-4 drops
Lemon zest
The ingredients for the semolina custard, eggs, milk, sugar and semolina flour

In a small saucepan pour the milk with half the sugar (125g) and the lemon zest and place on medium heat, until the sugar is dissolved. In the same time, in a bowl whip the eggs with the sugar by hand. And the semolina flour and mix again.

The milk heating up in a saucepan and the egg and sugar mixture beaten with a hand whisk

Brink the milk to a boil (you’ll see bubbles on the surface), take it off the heat and pour 1/3 of it into the eggs, beating constantly with a hand whisk. This is important for the eggs to slowly heat up, or else they may scrumble -in this case we don’t want that at all.

The semolina custard reaching the right consistency in a saucepan

Return the saucepan on the heat and pour the egg mixture into the milk in a steady stream, while whisking constantly. In the beginning it will be runny, but very soon (2-3 minutes) it will transform into a shiny, velvety cream. As soon as it is thick enough, take the saucepan off the heat and add cinnamon (1/2 tsp) and vanilla.

Adding cinnamon to the semolina custard in a bowl

A little secret!

In order to attain a more intense cinnamon flavor, place the milk with a cinnamon stick in a bowl and into the refrigerator from the day before. This technique is called infusion.

The semolina custard spread into the pre-baked tart in the tart pan

Leave the custard to cool a little and fold in the cranberries with a rubber spatula. Then pour the mixture into the pre-baked tart. Smoothen the surface and place the biscuits you have prepared on top.

The semolina custard tart with bear biscuits on the surface, before getting into the oven

Bake as before (middle rack, 180°C) for 25-30 minutes. Let it cool and finally sprinkle with a generous amount of cinnamon. The tart is delicious, ready to be consumed and -if you can resist- storage it for a few days in the refrigerator. On our part, there wasn’t even a crumble left!

A piece of the flan with semolina custard and cranberries on a purple plate, with trees in a background

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Giulia says:

    une recette bien gourmande !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merci beaucoup! Vous avez un blog tres interesant et on aime beaucoup votre Instagram page. Felicitations!

      Like

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks #DELICIOUS !!!! Inspired to make this… I will definitely make this 🙂 Thank You 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you very much! Follow us to read first our articles and we will follow back! 🙂💜🙏

      Like

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