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Does pasta dough really need to rest? Jamie Oliver is indicating no.

I wanted a glimpse of Jaime Oliver's "Jamie at Home" kitchen since I just adore the way it looks. I did this while watching a youtube video of him making Homemade Egg Tagliatelle.

Jamie uses a food processor to make the dough and then proceeded to roll out the dough without any rest time. I had always been taught that pasta dough should rest for 30 min or longer for gluten reasons.

So my question is, does anyone else do it this way? Is there somehow anything about using the food processor specifically that helps you get from step A to B without the wait time? If you persoanlly have made pasta both ways do you notice a sizable difference?

Mostly just curious.

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  1. If you have have a pasta machine, maybe not. See how much the pasta resists you.

    With a rolling pin, I need a rest time.

    1. I've found that if I try to roll it out right away, it resists me, so I do let it rest for at least 20 minutes before trying. I'm not sure what he's doing differently, but maybe it's the flour that he's using that lets him roll it out right away?

      1 Reply
      1. re: staple

        Maybe he uses a dough conditioner to fight that 'snap back," but if he doesn't mention that ingredient, then maybe he doesn't.

      2. I always make pasta dough in the food processor, generally one third semolina. I roll it out using a crank pasta machine. If I don't let it rest--20 minutes in plastic wrap on the counter--it needs to go through the #1 setting on the machine many times before I can begin to make it thinner and thinner; if I don't, it tends to shred. If I wait, it takes less of that "kneading" in the pasta machine and I get a much smoother sheet that can become quite thin. PS I add olive oil to the dough (sound was off on Jamie so I don't know if he did) because it makes it more pliable and supple.

        1. I never use a food processor, I make my pasta dough the traditional way. It doesn't take that much longer. The thing is here in North America, we don't have the same types of flour that are used in Italy. There is a huge selection of flour in various grades that are available. Over here, there is basically 4 types, and I've found that none of them give me the same type of pasta that I can make over in Italy using a mix of 0 and 00 for example. So, here I use primarily semolina and make it by hand. I do let it rest; you pretty much have to with semolina, but I prefer this. I get a beautiful strong pasta which is perfect for stuffed pasta. I don't use a food processor or mixer because it doesn't work well in my hands; I either wind up using too much flour or the pasta is too wet. I have to hand knead it in any event, so I just do the whole thing by hand. The key is kneading it enough to get the elasticity that you want and for me I find letting it rest is essential. Oh, and I also roll it out by hand and cut it; i don't use an extruder as I find the heat of the extruder will affect the pasta itself, but that's just in my hands. Your experience might be different! :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: freia

            freia: Here in Oakland, CA I can get Italian O and OO flour easily. They are pretty expensive, though, so I tend to use them sparingly.

          2. If you want to use some semolina, I found it best to put that into the food processor with the eggs and let it form a thick slurry which I let sit for a few minutes to really hydrate the semolina. I then add the regular flour and let it rip. You want it to just barely form a ball so even if it is not totally stuck together you'll be fine. Just turn it out onto plastic wrap, flatten into a thick disk and let it rest. Once you have put it through the pasta rollers (I assume you are not using an extruder because your dough has eggs in it) you can either cut the sheets by hand--I like the unevenness of doing it that way--or put through the cutter attachment.

            1 Reply
            1. re: escondido123

              I learned from an Italian who has home cooked for 50+ years. no mearuring just add about 1/3 semolina to 2/3 unbleached white big a pinch of veryfine ground pepper and a pinch of salt , mix with hands in bowl, add 1-2 whole egg, add a drizzle of evoo start to kneed add a bit of water as needed for biscut like textur, dump on board or counter top that has been dusted with flour kneed for 7-10 minutes till it springs back ( may need to add water or flour at this point to get right texture) rest in cooler for 20+ minutes and then use manual pasta machine. I h only run it through machine 1 time on each level to the 1 I want for different applications. I never learned to measure just abouts and texture was the most important. and as a French/ Polish person I get the most complaments on my pasta than the Italian family's kids do ( when they try to make an effort to make it witch is not very often con sidering it only takes a few more minutes than making the box kind

            2. I use semolina for extruded pastas and Caputo '00' for egg pastas (and pizza).
              I let the dough rest before rolling out to ensure all of the semolina/flour granules obtain their maximum absorbtion. This gives me consistant results and a soft, pliable dough and doesn't tear when rolling.

              1. I have tried so many times to make pasta dough by hand--probably a dozen over the years. Last month I tried again and again it was a ridiculous mess but it made me laugh so hard--a friend and I were doing it together--that it was worth the mess. Put all of it in the food processor and turned it into dough. I've been coached by those who always make it by hand and I just don't have the touch--now meatballs, those I can do with no problem--so I figure I won't mess with success. If I had to face doing it without the FP, I just wouldn't do it. Now the cutting, filling ravioli etc that goes fine.

                1. Regardless of Jamie says, i think the rest is beneficial. I'm no expert, other than I make a fair amount of homemade pasta for various Italian and Hungarian dishes, and I can _definitely_ see a difference (for the better) after giving the dough a half hour or so (at least) to rest.

                  It's one of those things where "whatever works" for you and gives the result you want is ultimately the _right_ way.

                  1. Hmmm. I don't use a food processor, so I'm not sure that would make a difference, but I always wrap mine and let it rest. It's too hard to work with if I don't let it rest.

                    1. Did he *say* not to let it rest, or did that info maybe just get edited out between the mixing and kneading/cutting scenes?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Jay F

                        I don't think it got edited out because he wanted to show how quickly pasta could be made so he showed the process in "real" time I'm pretty sure. But he did "knead" the heck out of it by putting it through the pasta maker on the lowest setting for a number of times.

                        1. re: escondido123

                          Now all that machine rolling Jaime did is quite telling. I guess you could let the dough rest, and roll it out with ease without a pasta machine, or give it no rest and beat it into submission by passing it numerous times through the rollers. Or let it rest and pass it through the rollers with less effort. I'm wondering if this is a "six of one, half a dozen" of another situation. Jamie rolled that dough with great enthusiasm and energy, btw.

                          Since I have no pasta machine, I let it rest before rolling. I no longer have arms of steel.

                          However you proceed, ultimately you have homemade pasta, and that's the best part.

                      2. I know the pasta courses I took in Italy were pretty clear: they never used machinery to mix the dough. The type of flour was pretty specific (there are many grades of flour there, much more so than here). You needed to knead the dough until it showed a specific amount of elasticity (you'd kind of hold it then pull it apart with your thumbs and physically check the stretch if that makes sense). Then you wrapped it up and let it rest, let the gluten relax so to speak. It rested in a warm spot, not in the fridge. Then it was rolled out and cut up.
                        I think it is whatever works in your hands. If this works for you and Jamie Oliver, that's all that counts. I still do mine the traditional way. :)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: freia

                          The great thing is whether you mix it by hand or use a food processor, roll it out and cut it by hand or machine, you'll come out with great fresh pasta that beats anything you can buy. Interesting to find there are Italians who make pasta with a food processor, both here and in Italy...links below.

                          1. re: escondido123

                            I'm not saying it's wrong, I'm saying whatever works in your hands.

                        2. yes, I always make my dough with the food processor, using only eggs and 00 flour, no salt, oil or other condiments for basic pasta dough. I let it rest at least 10 min. This way the dough rolls easily as it becomes pliable because the gluten has had the time to develop and give body and structure to the pasta. However I have made pasta with no rest if in a hurry, it's tougher at the beginning but as some of you have mentioned it does become more pliable with rolling. I think that practice will tell you what's best for you as not only the ingredients, but the environmental conditions determine your results. Pasta dough absorbs moisture like a sponge, may be Jamie's dough does not need rest because of the damp UK climate!

                          1. Going over these posts and the different instructions for food-processor dough, a thought came to me from making bread with a food processor that may shed some light on this subject. It takes only 45 seconds to "knead" bread dough in a food processor. So taking pasta dough to a ball stage in a food processor may develop the gluten significantly. Jamie Oliver's instructions tell us to stop short of the ball stage--the egg & flour mixture looks rather like couscous. This is dumped on a working surface and pressed and kneaded only enough to combine it into a homogenous mass. I would think that such a dough would require less resting than one in which the gluten is fully developed.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Father Kitchen

                              Another obvious consideration is hydration of the flour. If dough is mixed immediately and then rolled out, full hydration and the enzyme driven changes that hydration sets in motion cannot take place. A rest should improve the dough from that view point also.

                            2. I mix it by hand (well, with a fork or whisk to start, then by hand) and use just all purpose flour and egg. I don't rest it, and it works fine. I do put it through #1 several times, though, as someone mentioned. Flatten it out a bit, put it through, fold it in thirds, put it through, fold it in thirds, put it through, fold it in thirds, put it through, then it's ready for #2.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: jvanderh

                                The OP reported Oliver rolling the dough out by hand, so I don't think your experience w/ a pasta maker, which is a repeat of what escondido123 wrote, adds anything to the discussion.

                                1. re: Stein the Fine

                                  Jamie Oliver uses a hand-crank pasta machine in that video, just like I use. I was responding to the OP's question about whether the food processor was what made the rest unnecessary, and also to the discussion above on whether the technique required special flour or dough conditioner. I think the idea behind the thread was to tease out what made that technique work. Basically, you're getting enough gluten development to make regular pasta, but not so much that the dough needs to rest. Handy when you're in a hurry and not making filled pasta.

                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                    There are a string of Jamie Oliver videos, and pasta is handled variously in them. In one, he rolls out the pasta for noodles using a wine bottle. In others, instructors in his kitchen make pasta mixing the dough by hand. Even the ingredients vary: egg and flour only, egg yolk and flour, and egg with flour and a little olive oil and salt. So there is more than one way to do it. Do you have to let the dough rest? Clearly not if mixed only lightly with a food processor. Is it a good idea to let it rest regardless? Probably so. Just as you don't have to autolyse bread dough dough, but you get a much better loaf of bread if you do.

                                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                                      That video was specifically to encourage people to make their own pasta so he needed to skip the resting time. I agree with FK that you can do it without resting but if you have the time it makes the job easier, and I think generally a bit better.

                                      1. re: Father Kitchen

                                        Yup, pasta can be made with any liquid, and the structure is just about the same. I even did flour and water, no fat, one time. It's a hideous color, and doesn't taste very good, but it works. The OP referred specifically to the Jamie at Home video of Egg Tagliatelle, and he uses a pasta machine on that one. I think that's the only one of his pasta videos I've seen, so I can't comment on the others. I think there's a good case to be made for kneading more if you're making filled pasta, so it won't tear, and that additional gluten development may require resting so the pasta doesn't shrink back as you try to roll it. Some people may prefer to do that kneading/resting anyway to get a chewier pasta, especially for some sauces. In general, though, I never thought it was any better rested than used right away. In theory, I can see how resting is a good idea in terms of giving the moisture time to seep all the way through the flour. Rested bread dough seems to be better, and poorly kneaded or low moisture bread dough can sometimes even have unhydrated flour pockets, which is gross. But, for pasta, maybe because it's a wetter dough or because it gets boiled, I don't find the final result any better when rested. I don't rest it even when I don't mind waiting. To each his own, of course.

                                        1. re: jvanderh

                                          I wouldn't say it is a "better" pasta but I find I don't need to run it through the roller so much at the start and I'm able to go to the thinnest setting without ever a problem--especially when I use some semolina. But taste--it's the same to me.

                                2. Yesterday, while looking for the Muppets recording of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" at Half Price Books, I wandered over to the cookbook section and came upon "The Complete Books of Pasta and Noodles" by the editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine. I did a quick check of their instructions for making pasta. The basic formula is 3 large eggs to two cups of unbleached all-purpose flour. Not cake flour or bread flour, but bleached is okay. No oil or salt. Water added if the dough is a bit dry. They work it in a processor. As soon as it reaches ball stage, they take it out and knead it for a couple of minutes and let it rest at least fifteen minutes and up to two hours. Given the level of testing in their test kitchens, this procedure can be considered reliable.
                                  There are lots of good pasta recipes in the book. And if you like chicken noodle soup, an interesting recipe for chicken broth in a hurry--from scratch in about one hour. It's worth looking for in a library or consulting in a used book store.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                                    I'll second your recommendation for this book. I think it is worth every penny of its price


                                    This book is easy to miss when one is at a bookstore because it is not the usual-looking Cook's Illustrated book one usually identifies with CI. Inside, the usual B/W format.