- Filo is usually sold frozen in 1-pound boxes. A package of filo dough may be defrosted at room temperature (about 2 hours) or in the refrigerator (about 24 hours).
- Remove only remove the number of sheets called for in the recipe from the defrosted package. Immediately return the remaining sheets to the plastic bag they were sealed in and wrap the plastic bag tightly in aluminum foil before returning to the freezer or refrigerator.
- Work with one or two sheets of filo at a time. Top the remaining sheets of filo with a sheet of waxed paper (my favorite) or plastic wrap and cover completely with a lightly dampened cloth to keep them moist. Uncovered filo sheets dry out and become impossible to work with in a matter of minutes.
- Filo can only be defrosted and refrozen a few times before it becomes brittle and very difficult to work with. As most things made with filo pastry freeze beautifully, it is better to make a little extra filling and freeze the finished product than to defrost and refreeze the filo sheets.
These instructions are for using the Spanokopita filling, but 2 cups of any moist (not wet!) filling, like sauteed mushrooms, finely chopped and mixed with cheese and herbs, can be used
To Make Triangles:
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Uncover the filo sheets and carefully remove the top sheet. Place it on the work surface in front of you with one of the long sides closest to you. Recover the remaining sheets. Lightly brush the whole surface with melted butter. Cut the filo from top to bottom into 6 equally wide strips. Place 1 tablespoon filling on the end of the strip closest to you. Fold the end of the strip closest to you over the filling and flush with the long side of the dough strip, forming a triangle that encloses the filling. Continue roll-folding the strip of dough, as you would to store a flag, keeping the triangle shape intact and making sure the spinach filling is completely enclosed. Transfer the triangle to a non-stick or lightly greased baking sheet and repeat with the remaining filo and filling. Brush the tops of the triangles with melted butter and bake until golden brown and crispy, about
To Make Individual Open-Faced Pies:
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Uncover the filo dough and carefully remove the top two sheets. Recover the remaining sheets. Lay one of the sheets on the work surface in front of you with one of the short sides closest to you. Lightly brush the half of the sheet nearest you with melted butter. Fold the other half over the buttered portion. Repeat with the second sheet. Brush the top of the first folded sheet with butter and place the second folded and buttered sheet on top of it, squaring the sides to form an even rectangle of four layers. Cut the rectangle of filo lengthwise into 3 equal strips, then crosswise into 4 equal strips to form 12 squares, each about 2 x 2 inches. Gently press each square into a compartment of a mini-muffin tin, making sure the bottom is completely lined and the edges that extend over the compartment are equal on all sides. Place a tablespoon of filling into each cup and press it down lightly. (For a puffier, creamier filling, stir one thoroughly beaten egg into the filling.) Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is slightly firm, about 15 minutes.
To bake the filo dough shells empty, to be filled later with pre-cooked or room temperature fillings, simply brush the inside of the empty pastry cups lightly with melted butter. Bake until evenly golden brown, about 8 minutes.
To Make One Large Pie:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Uncover and butter one sheet of filo at a time. Arrange the first buttered sheet in a non-stick or lightly greased 8 x 8-inch baking pan so the sheet covers the entire bottom and two opposite sides of the pan, overhanging each of the sides evenly. Place the second sheet over it and press both sheets gently into the corners of the pan. Repeat with two more sheets, arranging them in the pan to cover the remaining two sides of the pan. Spoon the filling into the pan, spread it into an even layer. Lay one of the remaining two sheets on the work surface in front of you with one of the short sides closest to you. Lightly brush the half of the sheet nearest you with melted butter. Fold the other half over the buttered portion. Place over the filling. Repeat with the last sheet and place over the filling directly on top of the first sheet. Fold the overhanging sheets one at a time over the filling. If they break or crumble, simply press them into place. Brush the top with the remaining butter and score the top lightly with a paring knife in a decorative pattern, if you like.
Bake until the top of the pie is golden brown and the center feels firm when pressed, about 35 minutes. Remove and cool at least 15 minutes before cutting into serving pieces.