Good news! Your life is about to get easier.
For a long time now, I've wondered, do I have to brush phyllo dough with butter to get the best results? I love baking with phyllo dough... those flaky layers get me every time, but I hate brushing each layer with butter. And, in this case, I really mean hate.
So, the other evening I conducted a test. I built two stacks of plain phyllo dough and baked them for comparison. On one I brushed butter like I usually do, on the other, I sprayed plain old cooking spray on each layer. First, I want to let you know that building the stack using the cooking spray was a breeze! It was wonderfully easy and I could control the amount of fat I used somewhat too. When you're trying to brush tissue paper thin sheets of dough with butter, there's no such thing as going easy on the stuff.
I purposefully made the stacks with no flavorings whatsoever. I wanted to be see if I could discern a difference in flavor between the two, because - as we all know - butter has a special flavor profile and if there was a difference, the hassle of brushing might be worth it.
And the good news is: knock yourself out with the cooking spray. Not only was the result just as flaky and puffed as the butter (in fact, maybe even more so), there was no significant flavor difference between the two. Make your life easy! Make phyllo with cooking spray!
NOTE: The cooking spray tower is on the right in the above picture, the butter on the left. When I bit into them, there was really no significant difference in flakiness. I think the difference you see in the picture is due to the edges of the layers sticking more with the butter when I trimmed around each stack before baking. Another kudos to the cooking spray, I suppose!