Wednesday 6 January 2016

Spanakopita / Filo Pastry

Went for another go at filo last night, with a bit more success than last time. I used Paul Hollywoods Spanakopita recipe (a word I'm really not sure how to pronounce!)...he uses a pasta machine, but I went with a rolling pin instead. I didn't get any photos of the manufacture this time, which is a bit of a shame, but I'm going to keep working with filo until I'm a little more confident with it, so plenty of time.

The filo dough for this was noticeably a lot less wet than the Michel Roux recipe...I did the majority of the kneading in the stand mixer, then finished it off by hand. I rested it out of the fridge, as I didn't want it to go too stiff, so just wrapped it in clingfilm and put it aside for an hour.

The filling was fairly simple...basically reducing a huge volume of spinach down a lot, getting out all the water (I did the colander, then hand-wringed it to get more out, before putting it back in the pan...I'm pretty sure that the less moisture you put in the filo wrap, the better). Then it was a bit of nutmeg, zest of lemon, and (once the spinach had cooled) the feta cheese.

Rolling the filo was...fiddly, I suppose is the only word. I was rolling it to a length of about 65-70cm, and about 25cm deep. To try and reduce the amount of cornflour, I used a silicone pastry mat (this worked pretty well...the mat was a Christmas present, and it was handy having some good visual references to work to), and my dowling rolling pin I made at the weekend. I did 5 sheets, and it took forever, though I got a faster process as I went on. It was tricky getting the sheets to a regular size, I suspect partly due to slight irregularities in the rolling pin. I tried the rolling technique where you roll the pastry round the pin, and move your hands out, but didn't really get on with it. I ended up doing the majority of the work with the rolling pin, and then hand-stretching it the rest of the way...I got a couple of holes, but nothing major.

The other challenge was space! I had set up a sheet of baking parchment, dusted with cornflour, to build the filo layer up on, but I kept catching it with the end of the rolling time I'll have to clear a bigger area. Once the filo layers were done (not a quick job), actually forming the roll was pretty simple...just take the cold filling, hand-form it into a long strip on one edge of the filo stack, and then, using the baking parchment to lift and start, tightly roll it up, and then carefully lift it all, put it on the baking sheet in a spiral, glaze it (egg white and melted butter), sprinkle with sesame seeds and put it in the oven.

Having done the rolling pin method, I can see the appeal and benefit of a pasta machine to do the rolling...I might give this a go as an option next time...also, I'll take more photos.