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Jun 23, 2009 11:11 PM

why'd my pasta go wonky?


i made pasta with the recipe from the pioneer woman cooks website.

we had : 2 cups of flour and 4 eggs. they came from my friends chickens, and they were tiny. it didn't seem like enough moisture so we added one more egg.

we did everything by hand, and i don't think we overworked the dough. we let it rest about half an hour, rolled it out, cut it and cooked it for about 2 mins.

the taste? bland, and a tiny bit gummy.

what did i do wrong? should the recipe have salt? i was surprised there was none in the recipe.

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  1. The recipe sounds pretty standard to me.

    Generally I work with the ratio of one egg to 100g flour. I will also reserve some of the weighed flour to allow for variation of egg sizes. I find it easier to deal with a slightly sticky dough (by adding the reserved flour) than to rectify an overly dry dough.

    In terms of over working the dough - I think you would really have to abuse the dough to have much impact (we're not making scones). Essentially you should knead until the dough is smooth.

    Perhaps the problem lies in the cooking process (I apologise if the following is a bit teaching your grandmother to suck eggs-ish). Firstly you need plenty of water, and it should be at a rolling boiling when you drop the pasta in. Also it is imperative that you salt the water in order to bring out the flavour of the pasta, you should add salt once the pot has come to a boil an allow it to dissolve before adding pasta. Depending on the volume of water I will add between 1 and 4 tsp of flour (although I have a bit of an extreme palate when it comes to salt).

    I'm assuming that gummy means a bit too al dente, or chewy rather than gluggy. If that's the case then the pasta may not have been cooked long enough. I think (and certainly when I cook fresh pasta) that it is ready once it starts floating to the surface of the pot. The best test though is to sample it as it cooks/when you think it is ready.

    If gummy means gluggy then it could be that too little water was used for the volume of pasta, I apply the same ratio of 1 litre of water for every 100g of pasta to both fresh and dried pasta.

    1 Reply
    1. re: irisav

      got it..i'm glad to know i didn't overwork the dough..

      it sounds like i didn't use nearly enough salt (about 3/4 a tablespoon) and i put it in when i put the water on to boil. i did let it cook til it floated to the top. but now i'm wondering if maybe i didn't cook it long enough. i'm not sure what gluggy means, but the pasta did taste a wee bit chewy. so it looks like cooking longer might be it?

      is it a good idea to salt the pasta itself? or what about adding olive oil? is that asking for trouble??

    2. Irisav gives great advice. As for the bland flavour in the pasta, it probably needed more salt in the boiling water in which it was cooked. Coarse grain sea salt is better to use than regular table salt. I usually add about a scant handful and a half to a large pot of boiling water - i know, it sounds like a lot...but dont worry, it wont produce "salty" pasta, because sea salt is less "salty" tasting than regular table salt. The best rule of thumb to go by is to taste the water, it should taste like seawater. This is what gives flavour to the pasta...not salting the flour and egg mixture.

      As for the gummy texture, maybe the pasta was cooked for too long? Fresh made pasta typically takes about 2-4 minutes to cook...depending on the type and amount. Whereas the dried pasta from the box usually takes anywhere from 10-12 minutes, again depending on type and shape. But like irisav says, the best way to know is to just taste it as you go.

      After draining the pasta, I like to drizzle it with a little extra virgen olive oil, before stirring the sauce through.

      One more thing to consider could be the type of flour used, I go out of my way to find italian 00 flour (not easy to find in spain, despite the vicinity) which is what the italians use when making pasta. But I've also heard that you can use almost any type of flour and still have good results.

      2 Replies
      1. re: msmarabini

        i used all purpose :( i'll look for italian 00 for next time....

        and now i'm sure i didn't salt the water enough..

        thank ou for the help!!

        1. re: winedubar

          I use half 00 and half unbleached all purpose. (I think if I used all 00 it would be even harder to knead. I use Marcella Hazan's recipe -- adding more flour because it's too sticky if I don't. Just to try something different, I tried Alton Brown's pasta recipe and it did not work AT ALL, I had to throw it out. Hazan's is 1 cup flour to 2 eggs; but, believe me, you need more flour. Her recipe does not call for salt but I throw some in, anyway.)