Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Making pasta dough is easy. Many people believe that pasta making is an art, maybe it is, but its still easy! There are endless variations, in the ingredients, the shapes, the methods, ...
For instance, to make the dough, you can do it on the table with a well inside the flour, you can use the stand mixer, you can even use the food processor. I found a cool Jamie Oliver link, he brakes so many of the traditional rules to speed up the process and still comes to show with perfect pasta.
I like to mix the dough by hand, but I have included the stand mixer method as well. which ever method you choose, your hand will get sticky. There is no way around it.
For a nice workable batch i like to use 4 eggs, a pinch of salt and 400 grams of flour. In a medium bowl, put the flour and make a well in the middle. In the well, put the salt and the eggs. With a fork start working some flour into the eggs, use small circular motions. When the dough becomes too stiff to work with the fork, turn it out onto the counter top and start kneading by hand. As with bread the kneading process helps to develop the gluten. This simply means that the protein molecules in the dough start attaching to one another. This is what makes the dough elastic. If the dough becomes to tough to work with, simply cover it with a towel and let it rest for a while (10-30 minutes). The dough should rest for 30 minutes either way before it is rolled out. To discover the difference between a tough dough and a dough with relaxed gluten simply stick the tip of your finger in. If the dough springs back, it needs to rest. If it doesn't spring back, rolling the dough will be easier.
With the stand mixer, the same quantities apply. First mix the dough with the flat beater until it lets loose from the sides of the bowl. If it remains too sticky and won't let loose, add some flour. If the dough doesn't stick together and flour is left at the bottom, add some water. 1 tablespoon at a time. Wait at least 30 seconds to see if it needs another tablespoon. Then change for the dough hook, kneed for about 5-10 minutes on speed nr 2. Remove the dough from the bowl kneed another 2 minutes by hand and cover in plastic to let it rest for 30 minutes.
At this point it is ready to be put through the pasta roller. If you don't have one, no big deal, you can easily roll it by hand. Roll to about 1/8" or about 1/2mm. If the dough springs back to much while rolling, try letting it rest for another 10 minutes and then continue. Make sure your work surface is well floured, because the dough will get more sticky as it rests.
Here is a cool link for traditional pasta rolling, Its in Italian, but well worth it to watch anyway:
Using the pasta roller, there is no real difference between the hand cranked one or the attachment to the stand mixer. Start on the widest setting and push the dough through. Make sure it's shape is kind of flat already. When it comes out, fold it in half and put it through again. Make sure you keep pushing it through in the same direction. What happens here is the gluten are being aligned lengthwise. Repeat this process about 7 or 8 times. Then stop folding it over and run it through in a single layer, gradually increasing the number on the machine until the desired thinness is achieved.
For Lasagna, just keep the the sheets as they are and hang them to dry.
For Fettuccine, I have a pasta cutter, but if you don't, no big deal, flour the sheets well, roll the sheets and cut 1/2" or 1 cm spirals off. Unroll them and hang them to dry.
For Spaghetti, use the same principle, but cut them very thin.
For bow tie pasta, cut squares and pinch the middle with your thumb and index finger.
There are so many more shapes, this is endless. I plan to do some more posts on this. Most likely staring with Ravioli and Tortellini.