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Sep 19, 2005 12:13 PM

Homemade Gnocchi

  • c

I tried making gnocchi yesterday and found that the finished product was very soft and mushy.

I followed the recipe very closely but am wondering if there was anything I could have done to change the consistency of my dough: 1.5 pound potatoes, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 2 egg yolks, 1 tbspn butter, salt.

It was still very soft and sticky and I had read somewhere that you should use as little flour as possible when making them.

Should I have used semolina flour? Would that have solved my problem? Any other ideas out there?

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  1. This is a problem that I have seen in gnocchi recipes. There isn't enough flour. I've been making gnocchi for years and you most often will need more than half cup flour for all those potatoes. Yes, adding too much will make them tough or even hard as little rocks but many recipes are overly cautious. There are so many factors involved: how moist your potatoes are (baked vs. boiled, different types of potato, etc.) humididy, type of flour, etc. So it's impossible to tell how much flour you will need. Trust yourself and add flour gradually until you have a soft, plump dough that is actually workable. Practice. Good luck and report back!

    6 Replies
    1. re: munster

      Thanks Munster... I'm not giving up, so I'll be trying it again soon and I think I agree about using my discretion with the flour.

      What do you think about semolina flour though? I normally use a mix of semolina and unbleached flour - think the same applies to gnocchi?

      1. re: Chuck

        I've never used semolina in gnocchi, although I have seen recipes for "semolina gnocchi" but I'm not sure whether those have any potato at all? Because of its higher level of gluten, semolina may help with elasticity but will be even stickier, so my feeling is to combine the semolina with white flour, if you want to go the semolina route.

        Personally, I love gnocchi made simply with potatoes, regular flour and eggs. It will be great.

        1. re: munster

          you sure semolina has more gluten than regular flour? my guess would be that it has much less. It is also usually a little coarser than regular flour, so would change the texture of the gnocchi.

          I would agree that combining flour and semolina is a good way to go. Otherwise, I think it would be too dense.

          Just my opinion without having made semolina-based gnocchi before.

          1. re: adamclyde

            There is a whole 'nother type of gnocchi made with semolina - aka cream of wheat, aka farina, more or less. You sort of make a polenta mixture, let it set and cut it into rounds. These are then layered and baked in a casserole. I have made it once and it does not resemble the potato gnocchi one iota. Not even sure why they share a name.

            Frankly, I would stick to potato, regular flour and egg (although the egg appears to be optional too) when making gnocchi. Ever since I ate ethereal gnocchi in Italy, I have been totally intimidated to try to cook it myself. I just don't want to ruin the memory with my (almost certain to be) leaden gnocchi.

            1. re: adamclyde

              Sure. To the best of my knowledge, semolina contains the highest amount of gluten of all commercial flours. In contrast, a cake flour for example will have a lower amount and all-purpose will be somewhere in the middle.

          2. re: Chuck

            Semolina gnocchi should not be confused with potato gnocchi. Semolina gnocchi are made of semolina flour and milk, cut out in a biscuit shape and gratineed. They are a quintessential Roman dish. Potato gnocchi are essentially potato dumplings and are found all over Italy. I've linked to a recipe for semolina gnocchi because the ingredients and method are different from potato gnocchi. I wouldn't use semolina flour in potato gnocchi as that would interfere with their "pillowy" nature which is the goal with this type of gnocchi.

            P.S. There is a third major type of gnocchi made of ricotta cheese that is excellent as well. Search for Mario Batali's recipe on the Food Network website and you'll find it.


        2. a
          A Fish Called Wanda

          I had the same problem until I found Marcella Hazan's recipe. Since then I have been making amazing gnocchi without any trouble.

          Two tricks:
          1) use boiling potatoes (red skinned work best for me). Baking potatoes completely ruin the texture.
          2) NO EGG! I know it sounds strange since so many gnocchi recipes call for it, but trust Marcella :)

          I believe the proportions are 1 Lb of potatoes to 1 cup of all-purpose flour (no need for semolina).

          You steam the potatoes until tender (30-40 minutes). Peel them while still hot and put them through a food meal or ricer. Let them cool until warm, add most of the flour, some salt, and knead just until the dough comes together. Add more flour if it's too sticky.

          The part where I find semilina flour useful is in storing them before cooking. I sprinkle a cookie sheet with semolina flour and as I finish shaping gnocchi, place them on the cookie sheet in one layer and sprinkle with some more semolina. You can either cook them immediately, or freeze them.

          They come out perfect -- light and delicate like little pillows.

          What can I say... Marcella is great :)

          1. My family of strict constructionist cooks (our goal is for food to taste like my grandmother's) has these few pointers.
            We use russet potatoes, boiled in their jackets, cooled to handle and then riced.
            Spread the potato out on a large platter to cool and then placed in the refrigerator uncovered overnight. The refrigeration helps the potato to dry out some.
            Return to room temperature, cover the potato with beaten eggs and flour. Fold the dough over and start to knead gently, adding flour until dough is like a soft biscuit.
            Roll pieces of dough into long snakes and cut.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DCarbonaro

              This is the perfect technique. You can't miss with this recipe.