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Galopita (Greek baked custard)

6 cups whole milk
3/4 cup butter, 1 1/2 sticks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups uncooked cream of wheat, (2 1/2 min cooking variety)
7 eggs, large or extra large size
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups hot water
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 lemon, cut into wedges
ground cinnamon, for garnish
maraschino cherries, for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Warm milk in large heavy pan. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar and butter. Heat over medium high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, bring to a boil (do not allow to boil over). Remove pan from heat and slowly stir in cream of wheat. Stir rapidly to prevent lumping. Return pan to medium heat, stirring constantly, bring back to a full rolling boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally, while preparing eggs. Stirring prevents lumps and a thick crust forming on top. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

While cream of wheat is cooling, beat eggs and vanilla until very frothy and thick. Gradually stir into cream of wheat, creating custard. Continue to stir custard until eggs are throughly mixed. Pour custard in buttered 9×13 cake pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-50 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean and the color is golden brown.

While custard is baking, prepare syrup by combining 2 cups sugar and 1 3/4 cups hot water. Partially squeeze and drop lemon wedges into syrup. Break stick of cinnamon in half and add. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar. Once mixture boils, and sugar is dissolved, reduce heat to low. Cover and cook, to 210-218 degrees. (Syrup cooked to this stage will fall in a thin stream from a cold spoon). If syrup is cooked in microwave – cook on high 5 minutes, stirring 3-5 times to dissolve sugar. On high, bring to a boil (reduce heat to medium or low (hot enough to keep syrup simmering) cook 15-20 minutes. Allow syrup to cool while waiting for custard to finish baking. Discard lemon and cinnamon sticks.

Remove custard from oven and baste with syrup. Start basting edges and corners first, syrup will puddle to middle. Syrup soaks into custard as custard cools. It may take a few minutes to completely add syrup. Cool. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Cut into squares or diamond shapes and serve with a maraschino cherry, if desired.