homemade filo pastry

Basic Homemade Phyllo Dough


Regional Filo Variations in Greece:Filo in the Ionian: Follow the same directions as for basic phyllo, but reduce water to 1 cup and add a ½ cup of strained plain yogurt together with remaining liquids.Filo in Epirus: Reduce the amount of water to 1 1/4 cups and add one large egg, beaten, to the ingredients list.Epirote cooks traditionally use a slightly different technique than the one prescribed above for mixing the dough. In step 1, mix together 4 cups of the flour and the salt in a large basin and make a well in the center. Add the egg to the well. With one hand, sprinkle in the water, a little at a time, and, as you do this, knead the dough by pressing it as it dampens with the back of the other fist, as though «punching» the dough. Keep sprinkling and kneading until a dough mass forms that is smooth and firm and doesn’t stick. Sprinkle in a little more flour if necessary to achieve the proper consistency.Roll out the dough immediately into a rope about an inch and some thick and divide it into as many individual pieces as the individual recipe specifies. Rub each ball with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and set aside, covered with a kitchen towel, to rest for about 10 minutes. Roll out following the directions in the individual recipes.Filo in Roumeli (Central Mainland Greece): Follow the directions for basic phyllo, reducing the amount of water to 1 1/4 cups, increasing the amount of olive oil to 1 ½ cups, and reducing the vinegar or lemon juice to 1 tablespoon. The additional olive oil makes for a slightly flakier final result.Filo in Crete: Most cooks add yeast and a little eau de vie to the basic phyllo dough recipe. Combine 1 packet of active dry yeast in step 1 of the basic recipe, together with the flour and salt. Follow the same directions for mixing and kneading, but use warm water and reduce the amount to 1 cup while increasing the olive oil to half a cup and the lemon juice or eau de vie (not vinegar) to 3 tablespoons. This is the basic phyllo used for making the gamut of Crete’s small skillet pies. It will provide enough dough for 25-30 pastries. There are about as many recipes for homemade phyllo as there are regional cooks in Greece. The recipe below for homemade phyllo is my basic, all-purpose recipe. It makes for a malleable dough that is easy to work with and easy to roll. It may be used to prepare any of the pies in this book, and will be enough for either a 15-inch or 18-inch savory pie. You may halve the recipe (and, by extention, individual pie and filling proportions) to make smaller pies in 8-inch or 10-inch round baking pans. Of course, I could not in good conscience omit the regional variations.
SERVES
1
PREP TIME
30

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 to cups all purpose flour
  • 1 scant teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ to 1 3/4 cups warm water as needed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or strained fresh lemon juice
  • as needed
  • NOTE: You can just as easily add the above ingredients to a large mixer with a dough hook and knead in the mixer for about 8 minutes until the dough is smooth.
  • Follow the directions for making the individual savory pies.

Instructions

  1. Combine 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in center. Add the 1 ½ cups of water, the olive oil, and vinegar or lemon juice. Work the flour into the liquid with a fork, until a dough begins to form, then knead it in the bowl, adding a little more flour or water if necessary, for about 10 minutes. The dough should be silky, pliant, and smooth. Cover and let rest at room temperature at least 1 hour before using.

Notes

Regional Filo Variations in Greece:
Filo in the Ionian: Follow the same directions as for basic phyllo, but reduce water to 1 cup and add a ½ cup of strained plain yogurt together with remaining liquids.
Filo in Epirus: Reduce the amount of water to 1 1/4 cups and add one large egg, beaten, to the ingredients list.
Epirote cooks traditionally use a slightly different technique than the one prescribed above for mixing the dough. In step 1, mix together 4 cups of the flour and the salt in a large basin and make a well in the center. Add the egg to the well. With one hand, sprinkle in the water, a little at a time, and, as you do this, knead the dough by pressing it as it dampens with the back of the other fist, as though «punching» the dough. Keep sprinkling and kneading until a dough mass forms that is smooth and firm and doesn’t stick. Sprinkle in a little more flour if necessary to achieve the proper consistency.
Roll out the dough immediately into a rope about an inch and some thick and divide it into as many individual pieces as the individual recipe specifies. Rub each ball with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and set aside, covered with a kitchen towel, to rest for about 10 minutes. Roll out following the directions in the individual recipes.
Filo in Roumeli (Central Mainland Greece): Follow the directions for basic phyllo, reducing the amount of water to 1 1/4 cups, increasing the amount of olive oil to
1 ½ cups, and reducing the vinegar or lemon juice to 1 tablespoon. The additional olive oil makes for a slightly flakier final result.
Filo in Crete: Most cooks add yeast and a little eau de vie to the basic phyllo dough recipe. Combine 1 packet of active dry yeast in step 1 of the basic recipe, together with the flour and salt. Follow the same directions for mixing and kneading, but use warm water and reduce the amount to 1 cup while increasing the olive oil to half a cup and the lemon juice or eau de vie (not vinegar) to 3 tablespoons. This is the basic phyllo used for making the gamut of Crete’s small skillet pies. It will provide enough dough for 25-30 pastries.

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