As with all pastry, mastering filo is very satisfying. So why not give it a try, following Michel’s excellent recipe
- 400g plain flour
- 6g fine salt
- 330ml water, heated to 50ºC
- 30ml olive oil
- Cornflour, to dust
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.
Assembling filo: Most recipes call for interleaving layers of filo. The sheets of filo will need to be brushed quite generously with melted butter or light olive oil as you pile them one on top of another, so have a bowl of melted butter or olive oil and a pastry brush to hand before you start to assemble the dish.