Handling Phyllo Dough Sheets

Tip of the Day

Handling phyllo dough sheets can be frustrating. The sheets tear easily and you need to work quickly because they dry out very quickly which only makes the nightmare worse.

I have been asked for suggestions by one of my faithful…. So here are the best suggestions I can make.

The person asking for the tips is using it to make Spanakopitas… wonderful Greek pastry like triangles made of phyllo dough and filled with a yummy spinach and feta mixture. So I looked up a recipe for it and found one by the Barefoot Contessa. I wanted to see if her suggestions could add to the tips.

With that said… here we go…..

There are things you can do to make it somewhat easier…. note…. I’m not promising this will be easy by any means…. although …. honestly you do get used to it and it does come easier with practice.

I’ve used phyllo dough for years because my grandmother taught me to use it to make Strudel. If you haven’t had true Strudel… it has delicate layers of crispy pastry…. It’s made with a variety of fillings…. The most famous being Apple Strudel.

In any case… I have my set routine when I make it… I checked around the net to see what others suggest…. and about.com summed it up pretty close to what I do…. so here is what they suggest with a little input from me:

1) I ALWAYS thaw the box of frozen phyllo dough sheets in the refrigerator. I know directions usually say you can leave it out at room temperature for five hours…. Personally that has always caused problems for me.

2) Prepare ALL ingredients for your recipe BEFORE you even open the box of thawed phyllo.

3) Make sure all the ingredients are within reach and are organized so you can use them quickly.

4) I know this might sound a little too analytical…. but you really need to think out and plan what you will be doing in what order and prepare everything so all you have to do is assemble what you are making.

5) Your hands should be as dry as possible when handling the dough.

6) Bring the closed package of thawed phyllo to room temperature before opening and using.

7) Carefully remove the thawed phyllo from the package and unroll the sheets.

8) **This step is extremely important** Cover the unrolled phyllo with a sheet of waxed paper covered by a damp towel to keep it moist.

9) As you remove one at a time, cover the rest.

10) Now when I make strudel, and the Barefoot Contessa makes her Spanakopitas… we both brush the layer with melted butter…. and quickly get another sheet and lay it over the first and brush with butter…..then sprinkle the layer with bread crumbs.

11) The key is work quickly and have the butter ready.

12) If a layer tears a bit… it will be in the middle and shouldn’t be a problem… if the first layer tears, make it the second layer. You can patch tears in the middle layers.

13) If you need to cut the phyllo dough… use scissors.

14) As soon as you use the quantity of phyllo dough you need, roll up any remaining sheets with the original protective paper, cover them carefully with waxed paper and plastic wrap to keep air out.

15) Phyllo dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or two…. or it can be refrozen.

This is the link to about.com .... I essentially copied most of the tips…. If you want to go back to it and see it for yourself…….click the link.

This is the link to the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe and instructions.

Good Luck!.... and I hope this helps.


AnyEdge said...

Thanks so much Linda...I didn't let my dough get warm enough I think...I took it out of the freezer and opened it like 45 minutes later...It was really crumbly.

Linda said...

You are very welcome..... and yes, you're probably right .... the defrosting process and keeping it covered while working with it are key. Let me know how it works out when you try again...Good luck!

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