- Combine the flour, salt and water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix at low speed. As soon as the ingredients start to come together, pour in the oil in a thin stream.
- Stop mixing as soon as the dough is amalgamated. Use a spatula to scrape down any dough sticking to the sides of the bowl and the dough hook. Switch the motor to medium speed and work the dough for 3-4 minutes. It will almost come away from the bowl when it is fairly soft and slightly sticky.
- Put the dough on the work surface and shape it into a ball. Pull into pieces about 60g each. Shape each piece into a ball and place on a baking sheet dusted with cornflour, spacing them several centimetres apart. Cover with cling film and leave to rest somewhere fairly cool (14-16ºC if possible) for at least 2 hours before using the filo.
- Lightly dust a 60cm round wooden board with cornflour and place a ball of filo in the middle. Using a long, this wooden pole (or piece of dowelling) as a rolling pin, roll it into a 14-16cm disc. From this point on, press down with your hands on each end of the pole to stretch the pastry sideways. It is essential to keep dusting the top of the filo as you stretch it. As soon as the sheet of filo is the perfect thinness (0.5mm), lay it on a baking sheet and immediately cover with a lightly dampened tea towel or cling film to prevent it from drying out.
- Make another sheet of filo using another ball of dough. Dust the first sheet with cornflour, then place the second sheet on top and cover this sheet with the tea towel or cling film. Continue in this way until you've used all the pastry, covering the final sheet with the tea towel or cling film.
To use: The pile of filo sheets can be refrigerated, keep well wrapped so that they don't dry out, if used within 24 hours. Brush off every trace of cornflour before using.
To freeze filo for later use: Make sure that the filo sheets are tightly pressed together and wrap them very tightly in cling film, sealing it to make it completely airtight. Freeze for up to 2 weeks. Take it out of the freezer and refrigerate for 6-8 hours before using.
Ready-made filo: This is usually sold in a roll consisting of a pile 30 x 18cm rectangular sheets. Of all pastries, filo is probably the most difficult to make, and while it's fun to have a go, you will probably find it much more convenient to use shop-bought filo. It keeps very well in the freezer of fridge. To familiarise yourself with the product, read the packet instructions. As with homemade filo, it is essential to keep the sheets covered with cling film or a tea towel to prevent them from drying out as you work.
This recipe is taken from Pastry by Michel Roux, available from Amazon