The practice of stretching raw dough into paper-thin sheets probably evolved in the kitchens of the Topkapı Palace, based on Central Asian and/or Roman prototypes.
Filo pastry is a Ottoman invention, although the word (which means leaf) has entered English vocabulary through the Greek language. The Turkish name yufka means to open a dough. It also means a 'leaf'. Yufka may have been "an early form of filo" since the Diwan Lughat al-Turk, a dictionary of Turkic dialects by Mahmud Kashgari recorded plated/folded bread as one meaning of the word yuvgha, which is related to yufka, the modern Turkish name for filo as well as a Turkish flatbread.
Prepared filo (also named kori) served with cheese in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia.
Filo dough is made with flour, water, and a small amount of oil and rakı or white vinegar, though some dessert recipes also call for egg yolks. Homemade filo takes time and skill, requiring progressive rolling and stretching to a single thin and very large sheet. A very big table and a long roller are used, with continual flouring between layers to prevent tearing.
Machines for producing filo pastry were perfected in the 1970s, which have come to dominate the market. Filo for domestic use is widely available from supermarkets, fresh or frozen.
Filo can be used in many ways: layered, folded, rolled, or ruffled, with various fillings. Some notable common varieties are:
In Albanian cuisine, filo is called petë (plural) and the pies made out of it pite (mostly in Kosovo) or byrek, depending on the region and dialect spoken. Other types of pastries made out of filo, such as baklava, have various other names.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, dough is called jufka while filo leaves are called kore (pl.). Pastries have various names, depending on mode of preparation. Gibanica is a speciality using kore and features white cheese and eggs.
In Bulgaria, the dough is called kori za banitsa (pl.) and the generic name for the pastries is banitsa, although there are special names for some specific kinds.
^Perry, Charles. "The Taste for Layered Bread among the Nomadic Turks and the Central Asian Origins of Baklava", in A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (ed. Sami Zubaida, Richard Tapper), 1994. ISBN 1-86064-603-4
Perry, Charles. "The Taste for Layered Bread among the Nomadic Turks and the Central Asian Origins of Baklava", in A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (ed. Sami Zubaida, Richard Tapper), 1994. ISBN 1-86064-603-4.
Engin Akın, Mirsini Lambraki, Kosta Sarıoğlu, Aynı Sofrada İki Ülke: Türk ve Yunan Mutfağı, Istanbul 2003, ISBN 975-458-484-2.