The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Calling all fillo dough aficionados

HMerlitti's picture

Calling all fillo dough aficionados

What is wrong with this recipe or my execution of it ???

  • 1(17.3 ounce) box frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2ounces gianduia (hazelnut milk chocolate) with or without whole hazelnuts, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1large egg, lightly beaten
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: a small sheet of cardboard Instructions

Heat oven to 400º with rack in middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Cut small piece of cardboard into a 4- x 2-inch diamond. Using cardboard diamond as guide, cut out 16 diamond-shaped pieces of puff pastry.  Arrange 8 diamonds onto prepared baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Place 1 chocolate piece in the center of each diamond. Using finger dampened with cold water, brush edges of pastry. Top with remaining 8 diamonds, then gently press edges to seal. Brush tops with egg.  Bake, rotating pan once halfway through, until diamonds are puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer diamonds to a serving plate and dust with sugar. Serve warm.


In the photo below, upper left and lower right have chocolate inserted.  They are tooooo  flat IMHO.

Lower left and upper right have a sugar dusted strawberry.   The only reason they have an upper dimension is because of the bulk of the strawberry.

Why are they not more puffed up??   Did each individual fillo sheet need to be brushed with butter??

(If it matters, I used Athens fillo dough)


thomaschacon75's picture

Puff pastry and fillo dough are two different things.

Fillo doesn't puff, unless you stack it (as in making baklava), and even then it doesn't puff that much, unless you use many, many sheets of fillo.

The recipe calls for puff pastry, not fillo dough, so you just used the wrong ingredient. You wouldn't be the first person to make that mistake, though, as supermarkets always put them right next to each other in the freezer section.

Nickisafoodie's picture

Filo has to be brushed with butter.  Not every layer needs to but every second or third should be.  Keep a slighlty moist towel over the remaining sheets as you work...

Google for recipes and more...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

It is rolled up like cinnamon rolls but left in a log.   Lay out dough on a wet wrung out tea towel covered with a dry tea towel. Large rectangle (if two sheets brush melted butter between them, one on top of the other) place all fillings on except for leaving free a two inch strip at the end and one on the two sides.  Fold over the ends and roll up and seal trapping air between the layers around the fillings as you roll.    Lightly wet the 2" strip with wet finger tips so it seals well.  Pull the towel to roll up.  Use the towel to transfer to a buttered baking pan.  Brush with butter and bake 200°C until brown on top.

Filo is a single layered dough whereas puff pastry is a multi layered dough.  :)

thomaschacon75's picture

Her "Pie & Pastry Bible" has a great recipe for apple strudel, cream cheese strudel, and cabbage/sausage strudel. I would have never believed strudel dough to be as easy to make as it is. Very easy, really rewarding too.

Here's the apple strudel:

PastryPaul's picture

Fillo or Phyllo dough is defintely not puff pastry dough. In fact, I'm rather surprised your turnovers puffed as much as they did... must have been the steam rising from the cooking filling. Yes, if you butter between nearly every layer and use many more layers, you will get something puff pastry-ish, but it will not be puff pastry.

There are several methods of making puff dough and all involve building up layers (6, too few or too many = lousy puff)) of alternating butter and dough. It is the water in the butter that steams and puffs the dough during baking. Depending on the degree of puff needed, it should be rolled out to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thick.... not at all like the paper thin phyllo.

I can supply a recipe and method for a quick version of puff pastry since the traditional method is a 4 hour ordeal, or you can simply buy it at the grocery store. Just make sure it is labelled Puff Pastry, NOT Phyllo, Fillo, pate brisee, or pate a croissant.

An FYI: When you re-try this recipe, make sure to seal the edges a good 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the edges, otherwise you will destroy the edge's ability to puff.

HMerlitti's picture

I did not know this.   My desire to try  this recipe put me in an area where I have never been,  dealing with ingredients with which I am unfamiliar.    I have never touched this stuff.   The boxes were in the freezer and I thought, "Hey, I can make something with this that might be pleasing to the eye and even taste good". 

Thank you Paul and Thomas.   !!!!!

Check out this link for another one of my experiments.

thomaschacon75's picture

Don't be afraid to tackle puff pastry yourself. The first couple of times is infuriating, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy to make. It takes a long time, but 90% of that is resting between rolling the dough.

It's not nearly as persnickety as croissant dough, which is almost the same thing. You don't have to worry about the yeasties dying or going on overdrive, ruining the dough. Puff has no yeast.

It freezes well too, so I generally make 4 batches in one day and freeze 3. (Granted, I can't use my hands the next day because they hurt from all the rolling, but puff pastry is worth it.)

One tip: use great butter. Anything less, and your efforts will be for nil. (This is why the store-bought puff pastry is always disappointing: they use cheap butter solids).

HMerlitti's picture

So, you are saying to NOT buy puff pastry in the store but do this??

(how do you slightly beat and egg?) 

thomaschacon75's picture

Most will say store-bought is fine, especially if they're faced with having to make it themselves. 

I'd say it's 5 on a 10-point scale, being mostly tasteless and not giving anywhere near the rise of pastry you make yourself.

You slightly beat an egg with a fork, just beat it around the bowl until the yolk and white are just incorporated.

thomaschacon75's picture

I realize bakeries are slowly disappearing, but you can often call one up and ask to buy some puff. 

You may have to buy it in larger quantities than you'll find at the store, often much larger, but it freezes well.

Last time I bought some, I had enough puff for a year. A huge quantity was about $35, but they wouldn't sell me just a piece of it.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Really!  Salt free butter and a nice big counter space make it easy.  It is also easy to freeze to use later if you make too big a batch.  I was feeling pretty awkward about the whole procedure but it worked out and tasted great!   :)

Wild-Yeast's picture

Haven't made pâte feuilletée in a long while.  I agree with Mini Oven, it isn't that difficult to make and is de rigueur for anyone interested in classic baking techniques.  Take some time, a little care, refrigeration and try to use European style unsalted butter.  This is as close to heaven as one can possibly hope for, especially with fresh cherries in season..., 


HMerlitti's picture

When one goes to the store, how do you tell if you are looking at "good butter"????

thomaschacon75's picture

Go to the gourmet foods section instead of the dairy section and look for European butters like Plugra, etc. You're looking for at least 8g saturated fat per 11g total fat. You'll likely have to go to a higher-end market like Whole Foods, etc. to find some. If you buy regular butter, it'll likely be 6-7g saturated fat per 11g.

Another good one is Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter: I've seen it recently at Costco.


PastryPaul's picture

Using french-style butter makes a difference and I use it at home when baking for the family. However, I don't know about you guys, but over here it costs 4 times as much as regular unsalted.

Bottom line IMHO... It is better... It costs 4x more but is not 4x better. We don't use it except for one specific customer who insists on it and is willing to pay the premium price.

I would suggest you learn the method and when you can avoid all the things that you can do to mess up your puff dough, then try it with high-fat, low moisture butter. Just keep in mind that it is the moisture in the butter that puffs the dough, so less moisture = less puff.

Before someone asks: The main things you can do to mess up your puff dough are (not an exhaustive list, and in no particular order)...

  1. Over mixing the dough (most common)
  2. Melting the butter
  3. Rolling it out too thin (1/8 to 1/4 inch depending on use)
  4. Trying to make it when it's too hot/humid
  5. Pinching the edges of products (breaks the layers and they won't puff. Use sharp cutters to cut. When sealing edges, push down away from the edge)
  6. Trying to work it when it's soft (refrigerate !!!)
  7. Getting the dough wet (over-generous filling, too much water/egg wash in sealing)
thomaschacon75's picture

It's about $7/lb. for Plugra and the like here, in Denver, so not 4x, but not cheap either.

The Kerrygold I mentioned sells at Costco for $7 for 1.5 lbs., so quite the deal for a butter that's really very good.

Also, I emailed Kerrygold asking them where I could find it locally, and they sent me a coupon. I think it was $4 off. Rather nice of them, I thought.

PastryPaul's picture

At $7 a pound I'd use it for everything even my toast. Not sure how it would perform in puff dough, but I would test it to see.

PastryPaul's picture

This recipe for puff pastry is an abridged method for making puff pastry. It will not puff as much as if you used the traditional 6-fold method but is more than puffy enough for pretty much all uses and it's a lot faster. I've adjusted it for home baking, so this recipe does not make a standard 1.7kg paton.

You will need either a large food processor (easier) or a good stand mixer, as well as a hefty rolling pin, pastry wheel (pizza cutter), and bench scraper. Most importantly you will need lots of room to work.

WARNING: If it is very hot or humid don't bother even trying this recipe. The butter will melt in the dough and it will fail.

FYI: Where I mention FP it means either your food processor or mixer. I have given weights and cup measures. If you have a scale, use the weights for greater accuracy.

Ingredients (for 1 1/3 kg, about 3 lbs)

550 grams (about 4 cups) AP flour plus more for dusting

2 tsp salt

18 ounces (4 1/2 sticks, 2 1/4 cups) cold unsalted butter

240 ml (1 cup) cold water


  1. Combine flour and salt in your FP fitted with metal blade or paddle. Pulse a few times to mix well.
  2. Cut the butter into little pieces. You should end up with about 40-50 of them.
  3. Add butter to bowl and pulse a couple of times.
  4. Remove cover and scrape mixture to get the butter off the bottom. Pulse a couple of times again
  5. Add water and pulse again
  6. Remove cover and scrape mixture to get the butter off the bottom. Pulse a couple of times again (not a typo, do this step twice)
  7. Empty bowl onto a well floured board (don't be shy with the four)
  8. Press (don't roll) dough into a rough rectangle
  9. Flour the dough and press (don't roll) with your rolling pin to flatten it out
  10. Make sure there is still flour under the dough and rotate it 90 degrees. Press again
  11. Again make sure there is enough flour under and on the dough and roll it out into an 18-inch square more or less
  12. Cut the square into 2 rectangles of 9 X 18 each using your pastry wheel/pizza cutter.
  13. Roll them out to make them about 12 X 18
  14. Set the dough in front of you on the work surface with an 18-inch edge closest to you.
  15. Fold it up like a letter... the bottom third towards the center, the upper third down over that.
  16. Turn the dough so the narrow end is in front of you.
  17. Starting from the narrow end closest to you, roll the dough into a tight log.
  18. Using the palm of your hand, press down to form a square-shaped block
  19. Repeat steps 13 through 18 with the other piece of dough

Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using, but preferably overnight. If you decide to cut the dough to store it as smaller pieces, use a very sharp knife so that you don't squish down the layers. The dough will keep two to three days in the fridge or a few months frozen. If you choose to freeze it, defrost it overnight in the fridge.

Usage Notes: If you plan on making something, say turnovers,  AND Palmiers, make the turnovers first. Take any leftover scraps from the turnovers, roughly chop them, and incorporate them into your Palmiers before any folds. Your Palmiers will be much larger.


thomaschacon75's picture

Is it such a good idea to use short puff for a first try, PastryPaul? I rather think he'd learn more with traditional puff, even if it's a lot more work. It also lends itself to his future croissant-making. I could be wrong. The short puff is OK for most desserts, but not for something like a Pithiviers, where the pastry needs full puff.

PastryPaul's picture

This method simulates the 6-folds when the dough is rolled into a log. It is not at all like the "quick" puff pastry often used in plated deserts. Quick-version puff pastry puffs unevenly and much less than does the traditional or this method does.

If you want to test diferent methods of making puff dough, make vol au vents. They require a high, controlled puff to keep their sides vertical.

The truth of the matter is that professionals rarely go the full 6-fold traditional method. It takes way too much time for not much better results. In fact, given our hectic pace, the margin for error becomes way too great. Most shops use pâte inversée, a different way to make puff dough, which cuts production time by about a third.

High production time also leads many shops to sub special pastry shortening for some of the butter in an effort to reduce costs. SPS makes puff puffier, but at the cost of reducing flavour.

We have used this method on Pithiviers and even vol au vent to great success. The puff difference is in millimeters once you get the hang of not melting the butter chunks too much. Short of a pastry competition where those milimeters could mean winning or losing, why bother?

When I first was given this method, I prepared two 24-unit batches of vol au vent. I used the traditional method for one batch and this method for the other. My test came to nought since I didn't label them (I was sure there would be a visible difference), and I wasn't able to tell which batch was which.

For the purists out there, try pâte inversée as a compromise if you like. I'm sure you can find recipes and videos online




HMerlitti's picture

Thank You All !!

You have educated us on butter and I have stored your puff pastry comments in my recipe file.   I will search out the proper butter and have fun with your recipe this weekend.