Vanilla custard
Vanilla Custard in Filo Pastry-courtesy of Britain's Best Dish-The Chefs

Vanilla Custard in Filo Pastry

Vanilla Custard in Filo Pastry


Vanilla custard

My Dad, award winning restaurateur George Psarias, appeared on ITV’s Britain’s Best Dish-The Chefs a fair few years ago now with the recipe for his custard in filo pastry tart which also appeared in the book that accompanied the series.

This is a favourite among Greeks.


  • For the vanilla custard:
  • 650 ml full fat milk
  • Pared rind of 1/2 unwaxed lemon and grated zest of the other 1/2
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 20g unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 125 g fine semolina
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
  • 200g filo pastry
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted.
  • 200g caster sugar
  • Pared rind and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • Splash of rose water

For the coulis

  • 110g of raspberries
  • 2 tsp icing sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon


To make the vanilla custard, preheat the oven to 180°C (Gas Mark 4).

Heat the milk with the lemon rind in a small pan to boiling point. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the lemon rind and discard. Using an electric hand held mixer, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl until thick and creamy.

Add the butter, lemon zest and salt and stir well. Then gradually add the semolina, mixing continuously.

Slowly pour in the cooled milk, mixing thoroughly after each addition, and return the mixture to a clean pan. Cook over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the custard from the heat and add the vanilla seeds.

Cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming or leave to cool.

Butter a 15 x 20 cm baking tin and line the base with half the filo pastry, brushing each sheet with melted butter and spreading one on top of the other. Spread the cooled custard evenly with a spatula over the pastry and turn the edges of the pastry over the custard to keep it from oozing out.

Cover the surface of the custard with remaining sheets of filo pastry, each brushed with melted butter. Brush the top with more melted butter and seal the edges with a little cold water. Score the top layer of pastry with a sharp knife diagonally across the tin about 8cm apart and in both directions to form diamond shapes. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting into six slices.

For the syrup, put the sugar, lemon rind, cinnamon and cloves with 150ml of water into a pan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add the lemon juice and rose water and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Strain the cinnamon stick, lemon rind and cloves out of the hot syrup before pouring it carefully all over the cold pastry.

To make the coulis, put the raspberries, icing sugar, lemon juice and rose water into a blender together with 1 tbsp of water and blend for a few seconds. Pass through a sieve to remove the seeds.

To serve, place a custard slice in the centre of each plate and drizzle the coulis around it. Decorate with the raspberries and dust with icing sugar.

If that all sounds like too much hard work, why not pop over to the Olive Tree Greek restaurants in Leeds and eat it there!

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