Fashionably Mediterranean and healthily low in fat, paper thin fillo pastry is becoming more and more popular as an alternative to the more traditional puff and shortcrust pastries. The word fillo is Greek for “leaf” and is an evocative way of describing the light crispiness of the pastry at its best. With its origins in southern Europe and the Middle East, there are many arguments as to the origins of the pastry.
The distinguishing characteristic of filo pastry is that it traditionally is made without any shortening or fat. Unlike puff pastry that relies on the fat content within the pastry to obtain a “layering” effect once it is cooked, with fillo pastry the end user of the product determines what type and what quantity of shortening/fat is used in any recipe. The layering effect with fillo pastry is achieved by layering the desired number of sheets of pastry for any given fillo pastry recipe.
Long gone are the days when fillo pastry was only seen as being associated with traditional Greek style desserts and savouries such as baklava and spinach pie. Today cooks are limited only by their imagination as to how they can incorporate fillo pastry into new and exciting dishes. It lends itself well to creating pastry parcels and wraps in all different shapes and sizes.