6 cups whole milk
3/4 cup real butter (1 1/2 sticks)
3 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/4 cups uncooked Cream of Wheat
7 large or extra large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups hot water
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 lemon, cut into wedges
Ground cinnamon, optional garnish
Maraschino cherries, optional garnish
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter sides and bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, set aside.
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 milk to boil over). Remove pan from heat and gradually 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. Stir occasionally while cooling slightly (stirring prevents lumps and a thick crust from forming on top). Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.
While Cream of Wheat is cooling, beat eggs and vanilla extract until very frothy and thick. Gradually stir eggs into still warm custard mixture. Continue to stir custard until eggs are thoroughly mixed. Pour custard mixture into prepared pan; smooth and lightly shake to level custard. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a wooden 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 lemon wedges in syrup then drop wedge 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 F (syrup cooked to this stage will fall in a thin stream from a cold spoon).Discard lemon and cinnamon.
Remove cooked custard from oven and baste with warm syrup. Start basting edges and corners first, as syrup will puddle to the center. Syrup will soak 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.