Category Archives: Filo

Making Filo Dough

Thin as this dough is, it’s about three times as thick as the store-bought stuff. But you know we’ve all been down the pre-made filo dough road before. We know where it leads: a quite good, if very expected, texture and taste. Make filo yourself and you won’t have the extreme flakiness, but you’ll still have plenty, plus a little extra crunch, chew and depth of flavor. I recommend the experience highly. The dough is stretchy and forgiving, really fun to work with. Just prepare yourself for a few failures at first. You’ll still get enough sheets out of a regular batch to build a very nice pastry.

I want to reiterate what an revelation a ultra-thin rolling pin is. Six bucks will get you a 1″ dowel rod at any hardware store. It’s a little hard on the knuckles, but it gives you control like you’ve never had over thin sheets of dough. It also lets you apply focused, extreme pressure to dough edges, something you never get with a standard fat pin. I won’t use it every day of course, but it’s definitely staying within reach in the kitchen. Start your dough by sifting your flour and salt into the bowl of a mixer.

Add your water and olive oil.

Stir it on low with the paddle until a dough forms.

Switch to a dough hook and knead about six minutes on medium-high (you want to hear plenty of slapping) until the dough is nice and smooth. Wrap that puppy in plastic and let it sit on the counter for an hour or so.

When you’re ready to roll, remove a roughly 2-ounce piece of dough to a work surface that’s well-dusted with corn starch (cornflour). Apply your skinny pin(ny).

The dough will roll easily to this size. Dust it again liberally with the starch, turn it over and dust again.

Roll it out to about this size. Don’t rush. Turn it this way and that if need be, flip it and always have more starch at the ready. Press harder at the very edges where the sheet will be thickest. Wow, that was really easy, actually. Yes you’ll get some creases and maybe some small tears. Don’t sweat ‘em, you’re doing something special here.

Once the dough is about 9″ x 11″ or so you’ll find you can stretch it by hand the rest of the way. Pull it, hold it for ten seconds or so, then set it down. Tug on the corners until you have a rough 10″ x 12″ rectangle. Let it sit about another ten to twenty seconds so the gluten gets used to the idea of being this thinly stretched.

Remove the sheet to your wax paper or parchment stack. You can use your open palms to do more stretching if you like. Lay on another sheet of paper and repeat the process.

Some sheets will be uglier than others. Some will have tears. Don’t worry about it. Use your best sheet for the top and no one will ever know that those below aren’t perfect. Opa!

Filed under:  Filo, Pastry | 13 Comments

Filo Recipe

The only special gear you need for filo — other than a large table or counter to roll on — is a thick dowel rod or a broom handle to use as a rolling pin. What, you’ve never rolled dough with a broom handle before? Well there’s never been a better time to learn!

1 lb. 4 ounces (4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
11 ounces (1 1/3 cups) warm water
2 ounces (1/4) cup olive oil
cornstarch (corn flour) for rolling

Sift the flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Combine the water and oil and add them. Stir on low until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and knead about six minutes until smooth.

Of course this can be done by hand, you’ll just want to knead it a little longer…about 10 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it relax at room temperature for about an hour.

Divide the dough into about a dozen pieces and roll them them into balls. Cover them with a cloth while you work.

Place a ball on a floured surface. Roll it out to a roughly 8″ circle with your dowel rod or a rolling pin. Flour it with corn starch and curl the edge of the dough around the dowel, then roll the dough up around the rod. Pressing down, roll the dowel on the counter until it’s a few inches wider.

Unroll the dough, dust it with more corn starch, flip it over, dust it again and re-wind it around the dowel. Repeat the rolling until the dough is about 16″ wide or wider. Carefully unroll the sheet (it may tear a little, that’s really no big deal).

Put down a towel, cloth, wax paper or parchment sheet that’s the same size as your filo sheet. Lay the dough in it, cover it with another cloth and repeat the process with the remaining dough (keeping wax paper between the sheets).

Refrigerate it until you’re ready to use it.

Filed under:  Filo, Pastry | 12 Comments