The thin, finely layered pastry dough known as phyllo is essential to Greek cooking, used to make all sorts of savory pies, casseroles, and desserts. You can make your own from scratch (see Making Hortopita), but there are many good-quality premade phyllo doughs available. Store-bought versions come frozen in a number of styles and thicknesses—sometimes indicated by a number grade—each suited to a different kind of preparation. Below, a quick guide.
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Pastry phyllo is as light and thin as cellophane; while tricky to handle, it creates ultra-crisp, delicate layers for baklava (we recommend Krinos brand).
No. 4 phyllo is slightly thicker and holds up to custard fillings in pastries like bougatsa (try Athens brand).
No. 5 phyllo is heftier still, and a great all-purpose dough; we use it for making tart shells and mini-phyllo cups for hors d'oeuvres and small desserts (Kontos brand is reliably good).
No. 7 phyllo is our choice for creating sturdy triangular and square pies like individual spanakopita and tyropita (look for Apollo brand).
Finally, there's country-style phyllo, the thickest of the bunch; it's perfect for hearty, rustic pies like the feta-and-greens-filled hortopita (Zagorisio brand is the best).