Prep 2 hrs
Cook 0 mins
- Sift the flour and salt into a deep mixing bowl. Beating constantly with a large spoon, pour in the water in a thin, slow stream and beat until the flour and water are well blended.
- Knead the dough in the bowl by pressing it down, pushing it forward several times with the heel of your hand and folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the dough can be gathered into a soft, somewhat sticky ball.
- Add the olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, kneading well after each addition and continue kneading for about 25 minutes longer, or until the dough is smooth and satiny.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for at least two hours. Tightly covered, the dough can be kept at room temperature overnight or in the refrigerator for a week or so. If you refrigerate it, be sure to bring it to room temperature before rolling it.
- When you are ready to roll and use the dough, divide it into 20 equal portions and shape each piece into a ball about 1-1/2 inches in diameter.
- Sprinkle a smoothly woven kitchen towel with a little cornstarch and, one at a time, roll each ball on the towel with a rolling pin into a round about 7 inches in diameter.
- As they are rolled, place the rounds between strips of wax paper and stack them on a plate. Then cover all the rounds with a kitchen towel and let them rest for about 30 minutes.
- To shape each sheet of phyllo, stretch it over the backs of your hands by lifting the dough and pulling your hands apart repeatedly until the phyllo is paper thin. Working quickly but gently, you should be able to form a sheet about 14 inches wide and 18 inches long. Trim off the thick edges to make a 12 by 16-inch rectangle.
- Freshly made phyllo dries out so quickly that each sheet should be buttered or shaped as described in the recipe you are following before you proceed to roll and stretch the next sheet.
- A home baker cannot make phyllo as thin as the commercial product; therefore, use only half as many layers as called for in a recipe, and cut the rectangle in half instead of folding it.
- Allow phyllo dough to thaw in refrigerator overnight. Carefully unroll phyllo sheets onto a smooth, dry surface Cover phyllo completely with plastic wrap, then a damp towel.
- Keep phyllo covered until needed Do not leave it uncovered for more than a couple of minutes to avoid drying out.
- Microwave butter until very soft, but not melted. This will give you a lighter and flakier pastry.
- Brush each layer of phyllo with very soft or melted butter, margarine or oil. To prevent edges from cracking, brush edges first and work into center. Be sure to brush the last layer of phyllo with melted butter.
- Fillings should be chilled and not excessively moist Generally, bake on ungreased cookie sheet in preheated 375°F oven until golden brown. For thicker items, reduce heat to 350°F.
- Phyllo may be rolled and refrozen to store, when not in use. Tip: Use approximately 1/2 cup butter or oil for 16 sheets phyllo dough. Use approximately 1/2 Tbsp butter per phyllo sheet.