FILO OR PHYLLO – THIN LAYERS OF EXCELLENCE
When we think of Filo pastry Baklava comes to mind for most of us. While this super sweet pastry is the most well known and earliest dish, Filo is used in dozens of other equally special and delicious dishes.
Filo is a very thin unleavened dough used for making pastries with likely origins from the Ottoman empire. Its name in English comes from Greek translated as ‘leaf’.
HOW TO MAKE FILO DOUGH?
Filo is based on a mix of flour, water, raki or white vinegar and oil. The art of great filo relies on the ability to create extremely thin perfect sheets rolled out on a very big table. The trick is to use flouring to prevent tearing. These days the art of handmade filo is being replaced by specialized machines but the technique is still exhibited in homes and traditional restaurants across the Middle East and the Balkans along with immigrant communities globally.
To create the familiar flaky layered delicate texture of filo, each layer is stacked with melted butter used as a form of glue.
What’s the difference between filo, puff and croissant doughs?
Essentially the latter two are created by stacking thick layers of dough covered in butter and then folded. The mixture is then rolled out to form a pastry that has the butter well dispersed into the dough.
The huge variety of filo pastries include.
Baklava – The most famous use for filo. Layers filled with chopped nuts and syrup/honey.
Banitsa – A Bulgarian dish of whisked eggs and cheese baked between filo pastry.
Börek – A general term for a large range of baked filled pastries found through the Middle East, Balkans and Mediterranean. They can be filled with cheese, meat and vegetables.
Bougatsa – Greek breakfast pastry. Filo filled with semolina custard, cheese or minced meat.
Gibanica – A Serbian dish made from filo, white cheese, and eggs.
Pastizz – A savory pastry from Malta filled with ricotta or mushy peas.
Spanakopita – A Greek spinach pie.
Zelnik – A savory pie from the Balkans.