Thursday, January 16, 2014

Intro to homemade pasta

OK, I realize these are somewhat crappy photos of the pasta-making process. One of these days I'll make a complete step-by-step process with all my notes. But I wanted to get a few of my tips down here, not just for you but for myself as well. My key tips are in bold below. If you want some good photos of the pasta-making process, check out these posts from David Lebovitz (good pics of the kneading process) and The Noshery (good photos of the pasta machine process).

Below are 6 pictures of the dough mixing process that correspond to # 1 - 6 below.

1. Weigh or measure your flour(s). Place a mound on your work surface. Build a well in the center of your flour and crack your eggs directly into it. Use a fork to combine the egg whites and yolks.

Hot tip #1: before starting, set a small amount of flour aside to ensure your dough does not come out too dry (as seen in the upper left corner of my photos). Depending on the weather your flour may absorb more/less water. It's impossible to remove flour once it's in your dough, but it's really easy to add more flour bit by bit. As you can see I didn't mix all the flour in my dough. But it's not a complete waste--simply use the excess for flouring your pasta in subsequent steps.

2. Slowly, using a fork, begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, be sure to build up the sides to maintain the well.

3. Keep using the fork to incorporate the dough. When the majority of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together and you can begin kneading using your hands.
Hot tip #2: to save your hands from getting uber sticky with the wet flour by using the fork for as long as humanly possible.

4. When you're ready to start kneading, dust you hands with flour before touching dough. Use a light touch to prevent dough from sticking to your hands. Fold dough repeatedly until flour is incorporated, then knead for 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

5. You can see how nice and smooth the dough looks after 30 minutes of rest. The best way to tell if the dough has rested long enough is to test its elasticity. Simply press your finger lightly onto the ball of dough...

6. ... and the little dent should pretty quickly bounce back. 

At this point your pasta is ready for the machine! I'll update this post at some point, but in the meantime, The Noshery is a great resource for details on rolling out the dough. I think her method of passing the pasta through each setting 4+ times is a bit overkill, but 2 times is a nice middle ground.

Pasta Dough (enough for 12 lasagna noodles)

6 oz Semolina flour*
6 oz all purpose flour*
Pinch of salt
4 eggs, room temperature

*2 1/2 cups of flour should be more than enough for 4 eggs

Machine settings for different pasta types
Lasagna: 4

I will add to this list as I experiment more with homemade pasta


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