Baklava, made with filo pastry
|Alternative name(s)||Filo pastry, phyllo, fillo|
|Main ingredient(s)||Flour dough|
Filo or filo pastry is a dough of paper-thin sheets of unleavened flour dough separated by a thin film of butter. It is used for making pastries in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisine. The name derives from Greek: φύλλο filo, "leaf", and may also be spelled phyllo or fillo.
The practice of stretching raw dough into paper-thin sheets probably evolved in the kitchens of the Topkapı Palace, based on Central Asian prototypes. Yufka may have been "an early form of filo" since the Diwan Lughat al-Turk, a dictionary of Turkic dialects by Mahmud Kashgari recorded pleated/folded bread as one meaning of the word yuvgha, which is related to yufka, meaning 'thin', the modern Turkish name for filo as well as a Turkish flatbread also called yufka.
Filo dough is made with flour, water, and a small amount of oil and rakı or white vinegar, though some dessert recipes also call for egg yolks. Homemade filo takes time and skill, requiring progressive rolling and stretching to a single thin and very large sheet. A very big table and a long roller are used, with continual flouring between layers to prevent tearing.
Machines for producing filo pastry were perfected in the 1970s, which have come to dominate the market. Filo for domestic use is widely available from supermarkets, fresh or frozen.
Filo can be used in many ways: layered, folded, rolled, or ruffled, with various fillings. Some common varieties are with:
- Cheese: called Tiropita in Greece and Cyprus, Peynirli börek in Turkey, Burekas in Israel, sirnica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gibanica and Burek in Serbia, standard Banitsa in Bulgaria
- Chicken: called Kotopita in Greek cuisine Tavuklu börek in Turkish cuisine,
- Vegetables: Chortopita in Greek cuisine (Prasopita when filled with leeks) sebzeli börek (spinach, leek, aubergine, courgette, etc.) in Turkish cuisine,
- Meat: called Kreatopita in Greek cuisine, Kıymalı börek or Talas böreği (with diced meat and vegetables) in Turkish cuisine, Burek in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and elsewhere.
- Meat with yogurt on top: called Buredžici in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Nuts and syrup: Baklava, sütlü nuriye, şöbiyet, saray sarma in Turkish cuisine
- Potatoes: called Patatesli börek in Turkish cuisine; Patatopita in Greek cuisine; Krompiruša or Krompirača in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia
- Powdered sugar on top and filled with grated apples - Czech cuisine jablečný závin or Austrian cuisine Applestrudel
- Spinach and feta cheese: called Spanakopita in Greek cuisine, Ispanaklı börek in Turkish cuisine, Spanachnik in Bulgarian cuisine, Zeljanica in Bosnian cuisine.
- Milk: Mlechna Banitsa in Bulgarian Cuisine
Su böreği in Turkish cuisine consisting of boiled dough layers with cheese in between can be described as a salty version of baklava. Some recipes also use an egg yolk glaze on top when baked, to enhance color and crispness. In Western countries, filo is popular with South Asian immigrants in making samosas. Filo is used in many of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire; to make flaky pies and pastries, including baklava, börek, gözleme, spanakopita, tyropita and bstilla. Filo is also used for güllaç, a Turkish dessert mostly eaten in the holy month of Ramadan, where layers of walnuts and rose water are placed one by one in warm milk. A similar Egyptian dessert is called Umm Ali.
Filo is known by a variety of names in ethnic and regional cuisines. Among them are:
- In Turkish cuisine, it is called yufka; there are different sorts of yufka for börek or baklava.
- In Egyptian cuisine, it is called gollash.
- In Albanian cuisine, filo is called petë (plural) and the pies made out of it pite (mostly in Kosovo) or byrek, depending on the region and dialect spoken. Other types of pastries made out of filo, such as baklava, have various other names.
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, dough is called jufka while filo leaves are called kore (pl.). Pastries have various names, depending on mode of preparation. Gibanica is a speciality using kore and features white cheese and eggs.
- In Bulgaria, the dough is called kori za banitsa (pl.) and the generic name for the pastries is banitsa, although there are special names for some specific kinds.
- In Macedonia, filo is called kori (pl.).
- In Puerto Rico, it is characteristic of many pastries, specifically quesitos, baked pastries stuffed with cream cheese and caramelized sugar.
Other thin pastries
Cooked puff pastry is similar to filo-based pastry, with multiple thin layers, but the layers are made by folding the dough, not by stacking thin sheets.
- Alan Davidson (1999). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280681-9. p. 299.
- Oxford Dictionaries.
- Perry, Charles. "The Taste for Layered Bread among the Nomadic Turks and the Central Asian Origins of Baklava", in A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (ed. Sami Zubaida, Richard Tapper), 1994. ISBN 1-86064-603-4
- Press release from Athens Foods, Cleveland, OH
- Perry, Charles. "The Taste for Layered Bread among the Nomadic Turks and the Central Asian Origins of Baklava", in A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (ed. Sami Zubaida, Richard Tapper), 1994. ISBN 1-86064-603-4.
- Engin Akın, Mirsini Lambraki, Kosta Sarıoğlu, Aynı Sofrada İki Ülke: Türk ve Yunan Mutfağı, Istanbul 2003, ISBN 975-458-484-2.