Phyllo is a wonderful creation of flattened, paper thin dough, that is very versatile in the culinary world. It can be filled with just about anything from savoury to sweet ingredients and when baked, it transforms into crispy, flaky goodness! Grocery stores carry pre-made and frozen phyllo, but making it from scratch is a fun and rewarding experience and I urge you to try it at least once.
As a child I remember the feeling of fascination as I watched my grandmother, Yiayia Evangelia make the most incredible tissue paper thin phyllo from scratch, using a broom stick! She would use the phyllo to make delicious cheese and spinach pies ‘pee-tes’. Through research on various styles and techniques of making phyllo, I have found a way that I enjoy, because its much quicker than the traditional Greek style of rolling out phyllo with a long wooded stick/rolling pin. As a busy mother of two, quicker is often better me for! It requires generously oiled dough flats to sit for an hour and then stretched instantly into tissue paper thin sheets. Its quite fascinating! This technique is often used in Northern Greece and in the Balkan region.
Makes 8 sheets of phyllo
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 2 cups water (room temperature)
- approx. 1 cup oil, for brushing
In a large bowl incorporate the flour and salt. Create a well in the centre of the flour and add the oil and water. Using a wooden spoon mix the wet and dry ingredients until dough is formed (you can use a mixer for this process). Place your dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. If sticky, sprinkle with flour. Roll dough into the shape of a log and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten them down to make what looks like thick pancakes. Brush the inner bottom of the same bowl previously used with oil and stack each individually and generously oiled flat of dough in it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour.
You will need a clean, oiled surface to stretch the phyllo. Remove the first dough flat from the bowl and place on surface. Using a rolling pin begin to create your desired shape, circular or rectangular and then using your hands gently pull and stretch the dough outward. Once fully stretched, you can also achieve the shape you want by cutting the phyllo with a knife and discarding the edges especially if the edges are thick. Place each sheet aside and continue this process until all dough flats have been created into sheets of phyllo.