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making fresh pasta

  • w
  • Wendy Lai May 20, 2002 02:02 PM

So I posted once before about my first attemp at making fresh pasta. That time the resulting pasta was very hard to roll out and super al denta, no matter how long it boiled. Someone told me I had too little liquid, thus the tough pasta. So last week I tried again, this time with a different recipe. The pasta this time was easier to roll out, it handled well, wasn't sticky, seemed not to be too dry or wet. But when cooked, at first it was still a bit too tough, but after a day or two the cooked noodles lost all its al dente-ness, became slighly mooshy.
I don't know what I am doing wrong. I didn't have a pasta rolling machine before, so I can't get the pasta to be very thin. I do have one now, so am willing to give it another try. Any advice for me?

Oh and by the way, I used all purposes flour both times, because that's what the recipes called for. Both recipes were egg noodles, basically flour, egg, salt.

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  1. c
    Ciaohound (Bob Savelli)

    Hey Wendy -

    We use Semolina flour when making homemade ravioli.

    No disrespect intended, as I'm Italian, IMHO it's better to use Barilla or DiCecco pasta.

    Unless someone else is making fresh pasta for us, it's not worth the hassle. That's a big IMHO. However, I admire you for trying.

    1. Wendy,

      Don't listen to that guy. DeCecco! Barilla! No disrespect but the Italians make crappy cars(Lancia)and wonderful cars (Ferrari) and are quite capable of making crappy kiln dried pasta: Barilla. Too Nasty! There is nothing more satisfying than making fresh pasta. I use about 1 1/2 cups AP flour and 1/4 cup semolina, kosher salt, about 3 tablespoons milk and about 6 or 7 egg yolks...no whole eggs (too much protein). Make a well in your flour & semolina mixture, slowly mix in your whipped yolks and milk using a fork. You will reach the point where the dough comes together, then take over with your hands and knead. If you want thin pasta, knead longer for strength. When done, allow the dough to rest in the fridge (covered in plastic) about 1 hour. Now start rolling it through your machine. Start on the widest setting, roll it through about 12 times then start narrowing the roller width. It's real handy to have a pasta drying rack because if you want cut noodles like fettucine,you want the dough to dry about 5 minutes before cutting it, it will not be as likely to stick together. This technique is from Tom Keller's cookbook and the results are amazing. Dececco? HAH!

      6 Replies
      1. re: JPM

        I have Thomas Keller's FL cookbook, and the first time I tried pasta (a little ambitious?) I used his recipe, which didn't call for semolina. Anyway, that was the time the whole turned out too tough, too al dente.

        On my new pasta machine it says the eggs can't be right out of the fridge, must be room temp. That I didn't do that last two times, so that might be my problem? Do you find the egg temp to be of importance?

        I am quite proficient in most form of cooking, would consider myself as good as an mature cook can get. That's why I want to tackle this pasta "problem" I like make things from scratch, I see it as a challange. I thank you for your suggestion and help, and will definitely try your recipe with my new machine.

        1. re: Wendy Lai

          Wendy,

          Two questions:

          How long do you knead the dough? If it is still very elastic when you finish kneading, you haven't worked it enough.

          How long do you let it rest after kneading it and before rolling it out? It needs at least an hour and will profit from a longer stay in the fridge to let the gluten relax.

          1. re: Pat Goldberg

            I just knead it until it's smooth, I make bread too, and so I knead it until it resemble bread dough? So am I suppose to knead a lot longer or a lot shorter? If it's elastic, doesn't that mean the gluton has developed?

            I didn't let it rest for very long, I'm going to try that tip, also given by another poster.

            1. re: Wendy Lai

              If you are kneading it by hand, Lidia Bastianich says 10-20 minutes.

              She also describes what she calls "nervous" dough, i.e., dough that fights back and shrinks when you roll it. This is what I meant by elastic. This situation, she says, is caused by insufficient kneading, stale flour, or water that is too hot. Her solution is to knead for an extra 5 minutes or so, and to make sure it has an adequate rest.

              Pat G.

        2. re: JPM
          c
          Ciaohound (Bob Savelli)

          Hey JPM,

          While you're at it, why don't you recommend the pasta sauce out of a jar you put on your amazing homemade pasta?

          1. re: Ciaohound (Bob Savelli)

            Is there a particular brand you prefer, or is it just whatever's on sale at the Salvage Grocery?

        3. Everytime I make pasta, the cost (based on the KA pasta roller attachment) will go
          down. So far, I've made it once, and it came out perfect. Here's what I did, combining recipes from KA booklets:

          250 kg unbleached AP flour
          250 kg semolina flour
          1/2 tsp kosher salt
          4 large eggs
          1 Tablespoon olive oil
          about 3 T water

          Mix together flours and salt with dough hook. Add eggs and oil, and mix. Add 1 T water. Mix. Notice that the dough is not coming together. Add another T water, mix more. Notice that dough is still not coming together; add 1 more T water. Mix for 2 minutes. See that dough still has not come together. Give up. Dump dough out onto *very* lightly floured surface. Knead by hand until it sort of holds together. Divide "dough" into 8 more-or-less equal size pieces; cover all with a towel. One by one, run pieces of dough through pasta roller, according to directions. Take too long on two of them so that they dry out and become impossible to work. Throw out those two. Finish rolling and cutting the other 6 (fettucine width) and hang them to dry on towel rack.

          When ready to cook, bring a 14 Q pot of water to the boil; add a lot of kosher salt. Dump in all the pasta. Cook until done to al dente (around 3 minutes? not sure -- anyway, it took longer than I expected). Drain, sauce with a ragout of fresh, frozen, and dried mushrooms plus truffle oil. Gorge.

          ------------------------

          The bizarre thing is that the recipes KA gives in languages other than English are very different from the ones they give in English. Go figure. At any rate, my chef-instructor told us to use half unbleached AP, half semolina flour for a workable dough. Hey, it worked for me!

          BTW: if I'm using dried, as I mostly do, I prefer DeCecco. Barilla? Feh -- no flavor; might as well eat Prince Spaghetti.

          2 Replies
          1. re: CTer

            I haven't made pasta in a long time--but when I did, I used Marcella Hazan's book for guidance. I seem to recall 1/2 semolina, 1/2 ap flour, egg yolks, salt and olive oil, which helped with elasticity. I used to take mixed fresh herbs from my garden, blanch them for a few seconds in boiling water, then puree in the Cuisinart and press all the liquid out. I'd then add the herb puree in with the eggs-oil and knead it into the dough. It made beautiful pale green pasta with a delicate herb flavor. I served it with olive oil and Reggiano, and it was was so delicate, it practically flew off the fork into my mouth. I used to dry my pasta after cutting it, on a broom laid between two chairs until I got a pasta drying rack.

            1. re: CTer

              I got my husband one of these attachments for Christmas and he loves making pasta with it. Totally worth the price.

            2. Wendy, the one crucial thing to do when making fresh pasta is letting the dough rest after kneading it for about 20 minutes before rolling it out. This will allow the gluten in the flour to relax and not spring back when you roll it out. The way to test if the dough has rested enough is to give it a poke; if indentation remains, it's good to roll, if it springs back, let it rest longer. JPM says to let it rest in the refrigerator and I'm sure this is fine too but I just let it rest at room temp. I think the dough is softer & easier to roll that way. My first few attempts at making fresh pasta resulted in very al dente (read chewy) pasta as well. Resting the dough really does the trick. I've been enjoying fabulously supple pasta ever since I realized the importance of dough resting.

              Other than that, I use 1 cup all-purpose flour to 1 egg and pinch salt. Nothing special. I've tried semolina but didn't find a huge difference in taste and it's about 10 times as expensive.