Can anyone give me a few pointers for using my Kitchen Aid pasta sheet roller, fettuccine cutter, and spaghetti cutter?
I have what I think is a great pasta dough recipe (a Cooks Illustrated recipe I have modified very slightly). What I need help with is using the KA attachments well.
I have figured out that I need to roll the dough thinner than what's recommended in the KA guidebook that came with the attachments. When the dough gets thinner, it also gets longer (DUH!) so next time I am going to cut the original sheet into several smaller sheets for the last few passes through the roller at higher and higher settings.
I was having all kinds of trouble getting the cutters to slice the fettuccine and spaghetti cleanly so that the strands separated well. I figured out that holding the pasta sheets a little taut as I fed them into the roller helped with this problem.
Would letting the sheets of pasta dry out a bit also help with this problem?
Any other tips for getting these cutters to cut in such a way that the strands separate cleanly?
And one more question---I made the first batch of pasta dough by hand just to get a feel for it. Since then, I have been making the pasta dough in my FP. It's kind of a nuisance to dirty up the FP when I already have the KA mixer out to roll and cut the pasta dough. Does anyone have a killer good recipe/technique for making fresh pasta dough in a KA mixer? Or should I resign myself to having to use both the FP and the KA mixer to get good pasta?
Yes, I know there are Italian grandmothers who do this all by hand, including cutting the noodles by hand with a knife. Given plenty of time, I might be able to do this too. But, like many of you, I am time-starved and I like to use my kitchen machines to save time.
Getting the pasta to just the right texture is the secret to easy cutting. It needs to get a bit leathery but you can't just leave it uncovered because the edges will dry out. I put mine between two big kitchen towels and let them sit until just right. For me, I have found thicker pasta easier to cut, but then I use the Atlas manual or often cut pappardelle by hand since it is very wide and I like a rough looking noodle.
Escondido and Njchicca---Thank you. This is very helpful info. I will let my sheets dry a bit, safely resting between two kitchen towels, so they dry without the edges getting too brittle.
Njchicca--When you mix the dough in your KA, do you use the dough hook? And how many minutes do you mix it?
Yes you can use your KA to make your pasta dough. I would switch to the dough hook when you start kneading to reduce the strain on the motor (though you may be able to just use the hook by stopping the motor now and again and helping the ingredients come together a little). Kneading is a tough thing to give a hard number on but I'd knead on a low setting for about 6-10 minutes (the same essentially as if doing it by hand).
I also never use my spaghetti cutter for fresh pasta but I do use the fettuccine cutter fairly regularly. I find that the "non-cutting" has been because of one of two problems - 1) the dough was too wet or 2) not enough flour on the dough.
If the dough is too wet the wheels just don't seem to cut it for me, this can be fixed by letting the sheets dry out a little like others have stated. Alternately you can try adding a little more flour to your dough. Not enough to really change the end product but when rolling through a machine the dough can be a little stiffer than if you were hand rolling the dough.
I also find that if I flour the dough a little before putting it through the cutters that the strands separate better and are less likely to just "re-stick" to each other.
Two things to try at least.
I haven't read the other posts but in the past 6 years have made a lot of pasta using the KA pasta attachments you have. For beginners, keep it simple.
3 cups flour
3 large eggs
If you mix it by hand it will take just a few minutes more than putting together the FP and washing it. So, make a well with the flour, put the eggs in the middle and start mixing them with a fork. Go to youtube for a decent demonstration. Knead for 5-8 min.
If you want to use a FP, fine. IMO if the dough is made correctly it will put too much of a strain on the KA during mixing. In a FP the dough should form a firm but pliable ball. Roll it out like a cigar if you want.
Cover or wrap the dough and let it sit in the fridge for 30 min. Take it out and return to room temperature. Cut it into about 8 pieces and if it's made correctly there won't be any air bubbles inside. It won't stretch much but it will be pliable.
Press or roll out each piece to about 1/4" to 1/8" thick and they should be about the 3/4 the size of a deck of cards. Run it through the KA pasta SHEET ROLLER set at 1, the widest setting. Fold it over and run it through another 5-10 times, folding it between each roll.It shouldn't rip, and if it's too wet just wipe it on some flour you have on the counter. Too dry, have a dish of cold water nearby, dip your hand in and wipe it on the pasta. Fold and pass through the roller.
Then go up a number on the KA roller passing the sheet through once each time. You'll get the hang of passing it through with one hand and guiding it with the other. IIRC, it goes up to 8 but when I was first learning I stopped at 5 or 6. Now I go to 7 for very thin pasta.
Each sheet will be between 10" to 18" long. Cut longer sheets in half.
Have a cookie/baking sheet next to you and dust it with flour. Put the pasta sheets on it and dust each with some flour. Make sure the top of each pasta sheet has enough flour so when you put another sheet on top of it, they won't stick together. I'm talking about a pretty small amount of flour, but don't make too big a deal about it.
You'll end up with a dozen or more sheets of pasta. No need to let them dry out.
Have a second cookie/baking sheet dusted with flour next to you. I then use the fettuccine roller and pass each sheet through. This should be the easiest part of the whole process. Lay the fettuccine on the sheet and dust as you may have to pile some on top of another.
If you have a pasta rack or one of those clothes drier racks you can hang the fettuccine on them.
Cook right away or let dry if you want.
I got my pasta recipe from Mario Batali as related in the book, Heat (Fantastic book BTW). In the book there is a story about a famous Italian chef that comes to guest chef at Mario's famous flagship restaurant, Babbo. She is devastated by how poorly her home made pasta turns out when she makes it in the US compared to when it's made in Italy.
She used the same basic recipe that Italian pasta makers and chefs have used for centuries: 1 etto (100g) of flour and 1 egg. So what went wrong?
The culprit . . . the Eggs! The eggs are the absolute key to good pasta. Our eggs just aren't the same or have the same richness as those the chefs get in Italy. Mario solved this problem years ago when he came back to the US from Italy. For every egg added for his pasta, he also adds 2 to 3 extra egg yolks! That makes up for our poor eggs.
I generally add 3 eggs, 8 egg yolks, and around 3 cups of flour (2.5 semolina and 1/2 cup all purpose) + extra flour where I'm kneeding. I have used this basic pasta recipe with superior results since I read this book 6 years ago. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to get these fantastic eggs, labeled "Papas Garden" from a little girl at the farmer's market. These eggs are large, rich, and wonderful, and almost as often as not have two yolks. When I use "Papas" eggs, then I don't need the extra yolks. Note that when I do add the extra yolks I need to increase the flour to around 125g to get the right texture to the pasta. I never need water, but I always add just a tiny pinch of salt, though the Italians claim this is unnecessary if you have "good" eggs.
Thank you. The good news is that I use eggs from chickens that live a good life on my coworker's hobby farm in the boonies where they can eat insects and all the other good stuff that happy chickens eat. The yolks are so much deeper in color than grocery store eggs' yolks.
I add a tiny bit of salt too, although many of the recipes I've seen don't call for salt.