This gluten free filo pastry (phyllo dough) is the real deal: it’s paper thin (so much so that you can actually read through it!), it bakes up beautifully crisp and tender, and it’s shockingly easy to make. You can use it to make everything from gluten free apple strudel to baklava and spanakopita. Here, I’ve included a detailed guide to the PERFECT gluten free filo pastry: from how to make the dough and the correct way to roll it in order to avoid tearing, to storage instructions so you can prepare it in advance.This recipe makes enough dough for three large, about 12x16 inches (30x40cm) filo pastry sheets, but you can easily scale the recipe up or down depending on your requirements and the recipe you intend to make.
Course How To
Cuisine Gluten Free
Prep Time 1hour
Total Time 1hour
Servings 1batch (three 12x16 inches/30x40cm filo pastry sheets)
5g(1 tbsp) whole/rough psyllium husk (If using psyllium husk powder, use only 4g.)
150g(½ cup + 2 tbsp) lukewarm water
200g(1 ⅔ cups) plain gluten free flour blend, plus extra for flouring the surface(I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour that doesn't have any xanthan gum added. You can also mix your own gluten free flour blend using this recipe. Note that for this homemade blend, 1 cup = 150g, so ideally use a digital food scale for best results.)
15g(4 tsp) caster/superfine or granulated sugar
5g(2 tsp) xanthan gum(If your gluten free flour blend already contains xanthan gum, then reduce the amount to about 4g or 1 ½ tsp.)
2g(½ tsp) salt
30g(¼ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
Making the dough:
In a small bowl, mix together the psyllium husk and 100g (⅓ cup + 1 ½ tbsp) water. After about 30-45 seconds, a gel will form.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the plain gluten free flour blend, sugar, xanthan gum and salt until well combined.
Add the melted butter, psyllium gel and the remaining water.
Use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to mix all the ingredients together. Eventually, the dough will start coming together in a ball.
Once the dough starts coming together, give it a thorough knead by hand. This is easiest done by squeezing the dough through your fingers, making sure to also scrape along the sides and bottom of the bowl to prevent any patches of dry, unmixed flour. Eventually, the dough will start coming away from the sides of the bowl.The final dough should be smooth and homogeneous, with no clumps of flour. It will be soft and springy, and it might be very slightly sticky to the touch immediately after you’ve finished kneading it. After a few minutes, the gluten free flour blend will have absorbed more of the moisture, and the dough will no longer be sticky.
Divide the dough into three equal pieces, each piece should weigh about 135g.Tip 1: This recipe makes enough dough for three large, about 12x16 inches (30x40cm) filo pastry sheets. While it might be tempting to try to roll out the filo pastry as one ultra-large sheet (like you would with “regular” homemade filo pastry made from wheat flour), that’s not a good idea when it comes to gluten free filo pastry, as it would be too difficult to handle and it would be very likely to tear.Tip 2: If you’re a complete novice when it comes to gluten free filo pastry, you could even divide the pastry into a larger number of smaller sheets (anywhere from 4 to 6 smaller sheets for this amount of dough), to make things easier and less stressful. The great thing about filo pastry is that you can easily make a larger sheet from smaller ones just by partially overlaying them.
While you’re rolling out one part of the dough, keep the remaining ones in a closed air-tight container or wrapped in plastic wrap (cling film) to prevent them from drying out.
Rolling out the filo pastry – Part I:
Tip 1: I recommend that you check out the blog post for detailed step-by-step photos of the rolling out process.Tip 2: As the filo pastry needs to be rolled out into large, thin sheets, you’ll need to work on a large surface, like a kitchen counter or a kitchen island. If at all possible, choose a work surface that you can access from at least three sides (that is, where you can move around the work station and work from at least three sides).
Generously dust your work surface with the gluten free flour blend.
Pat one piece of dough into an approximately rectangular shape. Tip: Try to keep the sheet as rectangular as possible throughout, but don’t stress too much if it’s not an exact rectangle.
Start rolling out the dough. Make sure to lightly flour the top of the dough as well, to prevent the rolling pin from sticking to it. While the dough is still fairly thick, you can rotate and move it around on the work surface, just to check that it’s not sticking anywhere.
To prevent the pastry from tearing and creasing as it becomes thinner, it’s important that you use the rolling pin correctly!!Instead of rolling it across the pastry in any and all directions, make sure that you gently roll the rolling pin from the middle towards yourself. Don’t press down on it – instead, just slide it along the surface of the pastry so that it gently rolls over it. In effect, you’re not really rolling out the pastry by pressing down on it, but rather using the rolling pin to slowly stretch it.If you want to roll or “stretch” the pastry in another direction, don’t try to rotate the pastry. Instead, move around the work surface and again roll the rolling pin from the middle towards yourself. Never roll it away from yourself. Repeat this process until you’ve rolled the pastry from all four perpendicular directions into a larger rectangle. Then, repeat these steps again and again, working your way around the pastry, until it’s less than 1mm thin.
Preventing the filo pastry from sticking to the surface:
The method outlined below works both as a preventative measure to avoid the pastry from sticking to the surface, as well as for "unsticking" gluten free filo pastry that got stuck in places.
Gently grab hold of one edge of the rectangular pastry sheet and carefully drag it so that you’re essentially folding the sheet in half. Don’t try to lift it – instead, slide it along the bottom half of the pastry.
Lightly dust the uncovered work surface with the gluten free flour blend.
Carefully unfold the pastry.
Then, fold the pastry in half from the opposite side, so that you uncover the other part of the work surface underneath. Sprinkle the work surface with the gluten free flour blend.
Unfold the pastry and continue with the rolling process. If your pastry sheet starts sticking at the very edges, you don’t need to fold it in half – instead, use a bench scraper to gently slide underneath the pastry and loosen the stuck bits.
Rolling out the filo pastry – Part II:
Once your filo pastry reaches a thickness of less than 1mm, it's best to trim its edges to make an approximate rectangle. I recommend using a pizza cutter for this. Try to cut away only a minimal amount of pastry. Remove any scraps.Tip: It’s okay if the filo pastry sheet isn’t perfectly rectangular and 100% neat – as you’re trying to cut away the least amount of pastry, your corners might not be perfectly sharp and the edges might be slightly uneven still. But you should be left with a more regular shape and, as you’ve removed most of the splits and tears around the edges, it will be easier to roll it out further.
Before you roll it out for the final time, make sure that the pastry isn’t stuck in places. As before, fold it in half, using the bench scraper to loosen any particularly stubborn stuck bits. Sprinkle the uncovered work surface with the gluten free flour blend. Repeat with the other half of the pastry sheet.
Give the filo pastry sheet a final pass with the rolling pin. Be VERY GENTLE at this stage, as the pastry will be very, very thin. Remember: always roll from the middle towards yourself, don’t press down too much on the rolling pin, and move around the work surface to roll (or “stretch”) the filo pastry in all four perpendicular directions.
The final gluten free filo pastry sheet should be less than 1mm thin – ideally, you want to get it to a thickness of about 0.5mm. At this point, your pastry sheet should measure around 12x16 inches (30x40cm) or around 13x15 inches (33x38cm), depending on how you roll it. It should be so thin that you can read through it!Tip: Don’t stress too much if you get a few tears here or there – with time and practice, you’ll get more skilled in rolling out the pastry without too many tears. Plus, in most recipes you’ll need to layer the filo pastry sheets on top of each other anyway, so that any tears in one sheet will be covered by the next one.
Moving the filo pastry sheet & short-term storage:
Now that your gluten filo pastry sheet is as thin as possible, you need to move it out of the way so that you can start rolling out the next one. At the same time, you need to prevent the pastry sheet from drying out.
Use a soft-bristled pastry brush to brush away any excess flour from the top of the filo pastry sheet.
Fold the pastry in half. To do this, gently grab hold of one edge of the pastry and carefully drag it towards yourself. Don’t try to lift it – instead, slide it along the bottom half of the pastry.
Brush away any excess flour. Fold it in half again (in the perpendicular direction to the previous fold, see blog post for step-by-step photos) and brush away the excess flour. And then, do a final fold (again, in the perpendicular direction to the previous fold). This should give you a smaller rectangle that you can easily lift and move without having to worry about the pastry tearing.
You can either place it into a closed air-tight container or wrap it in plastic wrap (cling film) to prevent it from drying out until you need it for whatever recipe you’ll be making.
Repeat the rolling and folding process with the other two pieces of dough.
You can use the filo pastry sheets straight away or store them in the fridge or freezer until needed.
Storing gluten free filo pastry:
To prepare the filo pastry sheets for long-term storage, you need to roll them up with sheets of plastic wrap (cling film) in between.
Place a large sheet of plastic wrap (cling film) on your work surface, then carefully place a filo pastry sheet on top of it.
Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap.
Put another filo pastry sheet on top, then a sheet of plastic wrap and then the final filo pastry sheet. Basically, regardless of how many filo pastry sheets you have, you want the bottom layer to be a sheet of plastic wrap and the top layer to be a filo pastry sheet.
Carefully roll up the layers of plastic wrap and filo pastry, until you get a long log. Then, roll up this log in another sheet of plastic wrap, making sure that the ends are tightly sealed to prevent the pastry from drying out.Tip: This method does use quite a bit of plastic wrap (cling film), which isn’t very environmentally friendly. You could use parchment paper or beeswax wraps instead, though I haven’t tested them myself. Plus, you can always re-use the plastic wrap!
Store the tightly wrapped filo pastry sheets either in the fridge for up to about 1 week or in the freezer for up to about 2 months.You can use the filo pastry from the fridge straight away, but you need to thaw the frozen filo pastry first. To do this, leave it out on the kitchen counter until it's at room temperature and pliable. Don't try to unroll the filo pastry sheets or handle them in any way while they're frozen, as they will crack and crumble.
Recipe by The Loopy Whisk (www.theloopywhisk.com).