How to Use Phyllo Dough
Curtis Stone shares his trade secret for using phyllo dough in various ways for your home baking projects.
Step 1: Thaw
Keep the package of phyllo closed and thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. The keys to working with phyllo are to be organized and work quickly. So, prepare all the ingredients for your recipe before opening the package of thawed phyllo and give yourself plenty of space. Remove the thawed phyllo from the package and unroll the sheets onto a baking sheet just before using.
Step 2: Keep It Moist
Phyllo dries out very quickly, so cover the unrolled phyllo with a sheet of waxed paper then cover with a damp towel to keep it moist.
Step 3: One Sheet
Remove a sheet of phyllo from the stack and lay the phyllo on the work surface. As you remove each sheet, cover the remainder. Using a soft, bristled brush, immediately brush the phyllo sheet with clarified butter or olive oil to help prevent it from drying out.
Step 4: Layer
Evenly and lightly coat each sheet with the butter or oil -- too much butter or oil will make the phyllo greasy and heavy. When layering the sheets, do so as neatly as possible, but there is no need to be pedantic about it. If too much time is taken fussing with the sheets, they could dry out and tear. If the phyllo tears, patch pieces together to use in a middle layer of the pastry. These torn pieces won't be noticeable once the pastry is assembled and baked.
Step 5: Uses
Buttered phyllo sheets have many uses -- from filled bite-size appetizers, such as spanikopita, to tartlet shells that hold a variety of sweet fillings. To make filled pastries: Layer and butter 3 to 4 sheets of phyllo as directed above. Using a very sharp knife, cut the phyllo layers crosswise into 4 to 5 strips that are each about 3-inches wide. Spoon about 1 generous tablespoon of filling (such as spinach and cheese filling for spanikopita) near 1 corner of each strip. Working with one strip at a time, fold the corner of phyllo over to enclose the filing and form a triangle. Continue folding the strip (as for folding a flag), maintaining the triangular shape. Place the triangles, seam side down, on a baking sheet and brush with more butter. Tips: Do not wrap a warm filling in the phyllo, as doing so can cause the pastry to tear or become soggy. Do not overfill the pastry; as doing so can cause leakage. Bake the pastries on a parchment-lined baking sheet to prevent sticking. Bake in the middle of the oven to ensure even baking.
Step 6: Tartlet Shells
To make tartlet shells: Layer and butter 3 to 4 sheets of phyllo as directed above. Using a very sharp knife, cut the phyllo into squares to fit mini- or standard-size cupcake pans or tartlet pans, then press the phyllo squares into the pans. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown and crisp, about 18 minutes. Cool completely. Fill with your favorite filling such as lemon curd, sautéed apples or fresh berries and whipped cream.
Items You'll Need
- Phyllo Dough
- Clarified Butter or Olive Oil
- Baking Sheet
- Pastry Brush
- Sharp Knife
- Cupcake or Tartlet Pans