What you need to know about cooking with phyllo pastry: Top tips and hints

Always struggled with a phobia of phyllo pastry? Read this to ease your angst about it.

27 Nov 2017
 

(image: iStock) 

Known for it’s delicate, crispy and buttery taste, phyllo pastry is ideal for sweet or savoury dishes. Perfect as party snacks, canapés, mains and dessert. This versatile unleavened dough brings a delicious and crispy texture to any dish.

1. What is phyllo pastry?
Phyllo pastry is a speciality of the Mediterranean region. As very thin unleavened dough, it is ideal for making a variety of different foods. This includes sweet tasting food like the syrupy Baklava, savoury dishes such as pies, tarts, spring rolls, Greek dishes like spanakopita, bourekas, and tiropita (cheese pie). Crispy and golden brown when cooked, phyllo pastry can also be used to make edible serving cups for appetisers or desserts such as chocolate mousse or ice cream.

2. Where does the name originate from?
Phyllo comes from Greek word meaning “leaf” – describing the soft, thin dough.

3. Storage and freezing
Phyllo can remain in the fridge for 2 weeks after purchase. It can also easily be frozen for 2 – 4 months.

4. Defrosting Phyllo Pastry
• Start the defrosting process 24 hours before you want to work with the phyllo.

• Keeping it in its original packaging, take the phyllo from the freezer and place it in the fridge. (Note: do not defrost at room temperature, as defrosting it too quickly will result in too much moisture, causing the sheets to become soggy).

• Only separate the sheets from one another once completely defrosted.

5. Working with Phyllo Pastry

•  You will need to work quickly once you take the pastry out of its packaging. A good idea is to prepare your ingredients and workstation beforehand so that everything is ready.  

•  Open the packaging and unroll the sheets, immediately covering the dough with a clean, damp tea towel. This is needed to keep the dough moist. (Note:  keep the dough covered at all times when you are not working with it. 

•  Layer the dough, one sheet at a time, painting on butter or even a cook spray on top of each sheet, using a soft-bristle brush to coat the sheet, before adding the next layer.

• For savoury dishes, you can add breadcrumbs on top of the butter in between each layer and for sweet dishes, you can add sugar or cinnamon between the layers.

TIP: Phyllo Pastry can be prepared in advance of creating the dish. Create your layers and bake at 180°C for 10 min or until your phyllo is golden brown.  

Try some of these knock-out phyllo recipes!

Bobotie filo parcels with apple ring chutney



Smoked snoek and spinach phyllo pie



Pork, apple, mushroom and sage phyllo pastries



Milk tart phyllo cups



Boerewors phyllo wheel


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