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We are exploring the wonders of Filo Dough (or Phyllo, as it's sometimes spelled).
Filo dough is a beautiful, thin pastry, sold in many "sheets" or layers. Filo dough can be made by hand, but unless you are very accomplished you can never make it as thin as it is produced by machine. It also takes an exorbitant amount of time, so in the interest of "no bother but beautiful results baking" we (including yours truly!) buy it ready made.
Filo pastries can be made into both sweet and savory dishes and into a multitude of shapes and sizes. It's limitations are only as broad as your imagination!
Tips on working with Filo:
- Buy fresh filo (whenever possible) and freeze it yourself to use at a later date. I always find that you can never be sure of the degree of freshness of frozen filo in your grocery. It always seems to have been sitting there since the beginning of time and is all cracked and brittle when defrosted.
- Make sure that your work surface is perfectly dry or else the filo will stick and turn into mush.
- You are always advised to use a damp cloth to cover the sheets that you are not working with at the time. I find that, if you are working fast enough, this covering and uncovering takes more time and dries out the filo even faster. Use your judgement. If you see that it takes you 5 minutes to butter each sheet, then cover with your damp cloth. Once you get the hang of it and pick up speed you won't need the damp cloth any more.
- When you are making a savory filling filo pastry you can use oil instead of melted butter.
- Although the "purists" say to butter (or oil) in between each sheet of filo, to save our hearts I have found that buttering (or oiling) in between every 3rd or 4th sheet is just as effective. Hey - if you and yours have no cholesterol problems - butter away!!!
- Always bake for the amount of time in the recipe, even though the top of the pastry will look done after a few minutes. There is nothing worse than biting into a beautiful half baked baklava!
The Doughman's Sweet Filo Recipes:Filo Cups - actually these can be filled with any sweet or savory filling, but in the interest of summer fill them with ice cream or sorbet for a refreshing treat!Chocolate Baklava - a twist on an old favorite. Use chocolate only or chocolate andnuts - yummy!Apple Strudel - use filo instead of flaky pastry - its easy and fast!
The Doughman's Savory Filo Recipes:
Spanokopita - a Grecian spinach pie Family Sized Potato Knish - JUMBO! size (but you won't have leftovers!) Spinach Wellington with Filo - a quick 'n easy side dishBeggar's Purses - a twist on the Chinese fave!