Make your own… Filo Pastry

The creases you can see are from the tea towel, showing just how thin the pastry really is!

Filo Pastry is readily available, pre-rolled into fine sheets, generally to be found in the freezer section of your local supermarket.  It’s incredible thin, which makes for a crisp pastry shell, and consequently everyone assumes it must be really difficult to make.  After all, if you struggle to make shortcrust pastry without filling it full of holes, how can you possibly make a pastry which you can practically see through without it being a total disaster?  Well, you can.  It really isn’t that hard and it is incredibly satisfying.  I’m not saying you’ll never buy the supermarket stuff again, but you’ll be impressing everyone around the dinner table when you tell them you’ve made your own filo pastry…

To make this you’ll need a fair amount of clear workspace.  The trick is to work the gluten really hard to make the pastry very elastic, and you do this by literally throwing it around, so you get a workout in the process.  Once you’ve achieved that, making a thin pastry is a doddle

This recipe makes enough filo for 2 strudels


  • 285g Plain Flour, plus more for rolling/kneading
  • a pinch of Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 150g cold Water
  • 15g Butter, melted


  • Mix the egg, butter and water together in a jug
  • Sift the flour and salt on to a clean work surface and make a well in the middle
  • Pour the egg mixture into the well, and work the flour and liquid together with your fingers. This will take some time and give a very sticky dough
  • Work the dough into a ball.  Flour the work surface lightly and through the dough from shoulder height back down onto the work surface.  Beware – this is going to cover the kitchen with flour, so take precautions!
  • Scrape up the dough and repeat.  If the dough stick badly to the work surface, dust with a little more flour
  • Repeat this for about 15 minutes, by which time the dough will become drier and much more elastic.  At this point you can set the dough aside for about 30 minutes, wrapped in cling film to prevent drying.  Use this opportunity to make the filling you want for your filo
  • To roll the pastry,  cover the work surface with a clean tea towel dusted with flour
  • Take half of the dough and using a rolling pin, roll as thinly as you dare, trying to keep the pastry rectangular in shape. When you’ve rolled it as far as you can, get in there with your hands and start to stretch the pastry
  • Keep stretching carefully until you can start to see through the dough.  It should be very stretchy so shouldn’t tear, but if it does, it won’t really matter too much in the finished recipe
  • There you have it – a sheet of home made filo pastry, ready for your recipe!

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