Sheet Pastries: Phyllo, Strudel

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Unlike puff pastry doughs, sheet pastry doughs are prepared one layer at a time, and are assembled into pastries with a few dozen layers just before cooking. Charles Perry speculates that phyllo pastry was invented in Istanbul in the time of the early Ottoman empire around 1500; it’s now used to make the Eastern Mediterranean honey-nut sweet baklava, savory turnovers (Turkish boreks), and many savory pies (Greek spanakopita and others). During the period when the Ottoman Turks ruled parts of eastern Europe, the phyllo leaf was adopted in Hungary as retes and in Austria as strudel.