|Alternative names||Filo pastry, phyllo, fillo|
|Place of origin||Byzantine-Greek or Ottoman|
|Main ingredients||Flour dough|
Filo or phyllo is a very thin unleavened dough used for making pastries such as baklava and börek in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Filo-based pastries are made by layering many sheets of filo brushed with oil or butter; the pastry is then baked.
The name filo (phonetic) or phyllo (transliteration) comes from Greek φύλλο 'leaf'. In Turkish, it is called yufka 'thin', a word which is also used for a kind of thin unleavened bread. In Arabic, it is called reqaqot. In Morocco, warqa (Arabic: ورقة). The Albanian flia may be named for fije/fli 'sheet, leaf'.
The origin of the practice of stretching raw dough into paper-thin sheets is unclear, with many cultures claiming credit.
Some claim it may be derived from the Greeks; Homer's Odyssey written around 800 B.C. mentions thin breads sweetened with walnuts and honey. In the fifth century B.C. Philoxenos states in his poem "Dinner" that, in the final drinking course of a meal, hosts would prepare and serve cheesecake made with milk and honey that was baked into a pie.
Others claim it originates with the Turks; the 11th century Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk by Mahmud Kashgari records the meaning of yurgha, an archaic term for yufka, as "pleated or folded bread". Filo is documented in the Topkapı Palace in the Ottoman period.
Filo dough is made with flour, water and a small amount of oil. Homemade filo takes time and skill, requiring progressive rolling and stretching to a single thin and very large sheet. A very big table is used, preferably with a marble top. If the dough is stretched by hand, a long, thin rolling pin is used, with continual flouring between layers to prevent the sheets from sticking to one another. In modern times, mechanical rollers are also used. Prior to World War I, households in Istanbul typically had two filo makers to prepare razor thin sheets for baklava, and the relatively thicker sheets used for börek. Fresh and frozen versions are prepared for commercial markets.
When using filo to make pastries, the thin layers are made by first rolling out the sheets of dough to the final thickness, then brushing them with oil, or melted butter for some desserts, and stacking them. This contrasts with puff pastry and croissant doughs, where the layers are stacked into a thick layer of dough, then folded and rolled out multiple times to produce a laminated dough containing thin layers of dough and fat.
Filo can be used in many ways: layered, folded, rolled, or ruffled, with various fillings.