Monday, 27 June 2011

Making My Own Filo Pastry - Am I Mad?

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

Well, as you can imagine, I was just thinking to myself that I am far too busy to contemplate making my own Filo pastry!  It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  Really easy to make.  I used my pasta machine to roll out the dough into transparently thin sheets.  

It meant my sheets were very narrow so I just made two for each layer. The dough was really lovely to work with.  I had some shop-bought Filo in the fridge so took it out to compare - the shop stuff is brittle and cardboard-y whereas the home made stuff is moist and soft and pliable - so much easier to work with.

I can't imagine that I will make it myself many times more but if ever I was trying something special with Filo, I certainly would make it myself as I am sure it would make execution of little parcels and things like that a lot easier and probably prettier. 

So, onto the Baklava.  The best thing about making this was that it was the very first time I used my first ever food processor!  I whizzed up the nuts in it - my brand new Magimix.  Oh, I am so excited to finally have a processor.  I have used it loads since getting it but it still feels like such a novelty.  It sits out on the counter and I look at it lovingly every day.

The mistake I made was to halve all the ingredients except the syrup ingredients so I ended up pouring over too much syrup and finding that it was still drowning in syrup the next morning rather than having the syrup all absorbed.  I am glad I halved the recipe though as it is so rich and calorific!  Yum, though!

I felt this recipe gave a lovely Baklava just like that I can buy in the street market.  I particularly loved the evocative tastes - the syrup was beautiful!  I will never ever complain again at the price of the baklava I buy - all that layering is time consuming so I would expect to pay more!

Recipe - 

Filo Pastry.

Recipe source - Phyllo Dough Recipe - Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

(Enough to make Baklava in an 9” X 9” baking dish – although I halved the recipe for my version.)

2 2/3 cups (640 ml) (370 gm/13 oz) unbleached all purpose (plain) flour

1/4 teaspoon (1.3 ml) (1.5 gm) salt

1 cup less 2 tablespoon (210 ml) water, plus more if needed

4 tablespoons (60 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough

1 teaspoon (5 ml) cider vinegar, (could substitute white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar, but could affect the taste)
1.    In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt.
2.    Mix with paddle attachment.
3.    Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl.
4.    Add water & oil mixture with mixer on low speed, mix until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water.
5.    Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes. You will end up with beautiful smooth dough. If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes.
6.    Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and through it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process.
7.    Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil.
8.    Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best.
9.    Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can. Use a wooden dowel (video showing how to this on YouTube), use a pasta machine if you have one, or a normal rolling pin whatever works for you. Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out. Roll out your dough until it is transparent. NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen filo dough you purchase at the store, it is made by machine.
10. Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flower well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not try out.
Adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
30 servings
For the filling.
1 (5-inch/125 mm piece) cinnamon stick, broken into 2 to 3 pieces or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) ground cinnamon

15 to 20 whole allspice berries
3/4 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) blanched almonds

3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) raw or roasted walnuts

3/4 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar

Filo dough (see recipe above)

1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225g/8 oz) melted butter
For the syrup.
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) honey
1 1/4 cups (300ml) water

1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 (2-inch/50 mm) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best)

a few cloves or a pinch or ground clove

1.    Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.

2.    Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can. Set aside.
3.    Trim your filo sheets to fit in your pan.
4.    Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first filo sheet.
5.    Brush the first filo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade filo is thicker so it's not needed).

6.    Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top.
7.    Continue layering filo and buttering repeating 4 times.
8.    Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top.
9.    Continue layering filo and buttering repeating 4 times.
10. Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top.
11. Continue layering and buttering filo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of filo with no holes if possible, just looks better.
12. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.
13. With a Sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can't cut all the ways through don’t worry you will cut again later. A 9x9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge.
14. Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. (Oven temperatures will vary, you are looking for the top to be a golden brown, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven)
15. When you put your baklava in the oven start making your syrup. Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved.
16. Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally.
17. Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks.
18. When baklava is cooked remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warmish) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring. It looks like it is a lot but over night the syrup will soak into the baklava creating a beautifully sweet and wonderfully textured baklava!
19. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup.

20. Serve at room temperature.
Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: There are a few ways to store your Baklava. It is recommended that you store your baklava at room temperature in an airtight container. Stored at room temperature your baklava will last for up to 2 weeks. You will notice as the days pass it will get a little juicier and chewier. You may choose to store it in the fridge; this will make it a little harder and chewy, but does increase the shelf life. You can also freeze your baklava and then just set it out at room temperature to thaw.

Feel free to have a look at The Daring Kitchen to see other bakers' results and sign up if you fancy joining in with the challenges.


  1. That looks yummy!! And hooray for your new food processor! I would be just as excited if I had one :) You did an awesome job on this challenge.

  2. I kinda ran out of time this month (or, ahem, also known as not having the nerve to try making my own filo pastry)- but I am so impressed with your delicious looking Baklava and incredibly professional looking filo pastry- Jus-Roll eat your heart out! Meanwhile me and my nerves will sit out the rest of this month under a Magimix or something.

    PS: How brilliant is the MagiMix??!

  3. god well done you!... I adore baclava but have never made it... I love your recipe though... all that sticky sweetness... so good!... now all I need is a pasta machine... where's the Viking?

  4. What a great job on this challenge! Good idea to 1/2 it--very calorific. Just ask my butt. =P

  5. What a great results - I'm in admiration of your super thin pastry - mine was a bit thick - despite my husband's best efforts with the rolling pin after my arms got sore! And I had far too much syrup too - even without halving the mixture. The plus side is that I used a little of it to roast pork with today, which was also delicious - and unexpected!

  6. That looks amazing. You did a great job!

  7. Wow, making your own filo pastry, that's brilliant. I adore baklava but have only ever made it with the bought stuff. Aahh the Magimix, a thing of great beauty!

  8. Shelley - Do you not have a processor? Don't tell Steve. I managed to get my one by begging for many years and telling him that everyone has one! Hee hee. I love it! Will start begging for an ice cream maker now - ha ha.

    Kate - It really did take an entire day to make so you probably made the right decision not to do it. And, yes, I love my MagiMix. I went for it because so many Bloggers swear by it. I have joined the club!

    Dom - You should get a pasta maker as a new kitchen present as it does look very beautiful (even if it only gets used once every two years!).

    Carolyn - Thanks for commenting and leading me to your blog - love your photos!

    Makey-Cakey - your poor husband!!!! What a great idea to cook pork in the syrup - wish I had thought of that!

    Alwayzbakin - Thanks. :-)

    Kath - My Mum came round the day after I had made it and I said, "have a bit of home-made Baklava made with home-made Filo pastry" and she just looked at me as if I had two heads and started muttering about where I got the time!

  9. You just got a food processor.... well, I just got a pasta roller... hehe
    Unfortunately it wasn't here on time to make the baklava. Also, I though it wouldn't roll as thin as needed to be, but from your photos I can see it made a perfect job. Can't wait to try mine on some more phyllo pastry! Very well done!

  10. Renata - I think it was thin enough with the pasta maker. I did stretch it a bit in my hands like the recipe suggested but don't think it really needed it.
    Looking forward to seeing your pasta recipes now!

  11. Wow, it looks amazing! I'm so impressed that you made your own filo - I don't think I'll ever attempt that!
    I can understand why you look lovingly at your food processor every day, it's the next big kitchen toy on my list!

  12. Is it really that easy? I have never made my own filo - it freaks me out! I am in awe. x

  13. C - I always kind of thought I was the only person without a processor but now I see I was just being very spoiled!!!

    Holly - It actually was much easier than I expected (with the pasta maker anyway) but was still more faff than I am generally willing to put up with for some food!

  14. I am so in awe of you. Baklawa I've made a few times but never dreamt of making the pastry. Well done indeed for rising to that challenge. Congratulations on your food processor. I don't use mine very often, but I'm jolly glad to have it.

  15. Choclette - thank you! :-D I did think about not doing the challenge but I am so glad I did. Giving things a try really does make them feel less threatening. I have used my processor HEAPS - loving it so much.

  16. Wow that looks amazing! I love baklava. Really, really love baklava. But I'm quite happy to never make it.

    I do need to find a cheaper supply though instead of getting ripped off at the international market


  17. Hey Chris - good to have you back in Blogland. Yes, I'll be quite happy to never make it again. ;-) But I won't grudge the price of it at the International market so much now.

  18. WOW looks fantastic! Glad you enjoyed the final product :)