how-to-pasta

We tend to hear that baking is a science and cooking is an art. Well, I may have a few issues with such a broad generalization, but if I had to categorize making homemade pasta, I’d have to put it towards the art end of the spectrum. You can start with a base recipe, but inevitably you end up adjusting the amount of flour you use, whether it be initially or when beginning the rolling out process. The amount of flour needed can change depending on the weather, kind of flour or eggs you are using or how the kitchen gods are feeling that particular day.

It also takes a while to get the feel of the proper consistency of the pasta dough. When I first started out, I was making the dough too soft and sticky, so it would tear apart in the roller and I spent a lot of time working more flour into it between passes through the roller. Eventually I got something usable, but it took some work. Through many batches of pasta dough, I’ve developed a much better feel for how the dough should come together. Of course, it is difficult to put into words, so that’s not super helpful in this instance. However, I’m going to do my best to walk you through how to make fresh, homemade pasta, because, really – it’s super good. And once you have the hang of it, super easy.

As for special tools, I use the KitchenAid pasta attachments, including the roller and pasta cutters. I’ve never used a hand-cranked pasta maker, but I hear they’re pretty cool too.

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Ingredients:

2 to 2 1/2 C All Purpose Flour (8 oz to 10 oz)
3 Eggs, large

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Pile up about 2 cups of the flour onto a flat surface (if you are brave) or into a large bowl (if you are not).  I usually use a bowl. In fact, this was the first time I successfully made pasta dough on my cutting board without having egg run all over my counter and then floor.

Make a well in the center of the flour pile and crack the eggs in the the hollow.

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Use your fingers or a fork to mix the flour into the eggs until a dough forms. Add flour from the reserved 1/2 C as needed to create the dough.

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Work the dough into a fairly smooth, slightly stiff and not sticky disc and then cover with plastic wrap and set aside to let rest for about 1/2 hour. If you are going to let it sit out longer, throw it in the refrigerator.

Once the dough has finished resting, divide it into 4 portions for rolling out. You may notice that the dough is softer and a little stickier now. This is okay. If the dough ends up being too wet to roll out, we’ll just work in some more flour.

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Load up your pasta roller attachment and set it on its lowest (widest) setting. On the Kitchenaid attachment, this is level 1. Run one piece of dough through the roller, then fold it in thirds (like a tri-fold wallet) and run it through again. If the dough is sticking to the roller and tearing, try dredging the outside in flour before taking that second pass through the roller. Also, the kitchenaid roller is pretty much self-cleaning. If the dough stuck and tore, wait a minute for the roller to clean off the residue and check under the roller for any clumps of dough lurking there. Cleaning off all of that helps to prevent sticking.

Repeat rolling out the dough on that first setting and then folding the dough up and running it through again a few times – until the dough is smooth and is no longer sticking.

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Run the dough twice through each higher setting until you’ve reached the desired thickness. At each progressively thinner setting, the dough should widen and lengthen a bit until you end up with a long flat sheet. If you started with a fairly large piece of dough, you may want to cut the strip in half at some point for ease of handling.

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If you are hand cutting wide strips of dough or are using the sheets of dough for ravioli or lasagna, then you are pretty much done at this point. However, if you are making fettuccine or some similar noodle, you can break out your cutting attachment of choice and run the sheets of pasta dough through it to create your noodles.

Hang the noodles so they are not touching until you are ready to cook them. If they are touching, they may end up sticking together and getting all clumpy. I find that a drying rack for clothes works really well for this (just give it a good wipe first). Clothes hangers also get the job done.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop the pasta inside, giving it a good stir. You may have noticed that the pasta has not been seasoned, which is why the salt in the cooking water is so important. The pasta absorbs some of that salt, which adds a lot of flavor.  Keep in mind that fresh pasta cooks much much faster than dried, so keep a close eye on it.

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If you want to freeze your pasta for another night, forgo the hanging step and simply twirl the pasta into a little nest with a fork. Then bag the nests and stick them into the freezer. They should last a few months in there. When you want to cook the frozen pasta, just drop the frozen nest into a pot of salted, boiling water. No need to thaw.

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How to Make Homemade Pasta
 
Recipe By:
Ingredients
  • 2 to 2½ C All Purpose Flour (8 oz to 10 oz)
  • 3 Eggs, large
Instructions
  1. Pile up about 2 cups of the flour onto a flat surface (if you are brave) or into a large bowl (if you are not).
  2. Make a well in the center of the flour pile and crack the eggs in the the hollow.
  3. Use your fingers or a fork to mix the flour into the eggs until a dough forms. Add flour from the reserved ½ C as needed to create the dough.
  4. Work the dough into a fairly smooth, slightly stiff and not sticky disc and then cover with plastic wrap and set aside to let rest for about ½ hour. If you are going to let it sit out longer, throw it in the refrigerator.
  5. Once the dough has finished resting, divide it into 4 portions for rolling out. You may notice that the dough is softer and a little stickier now. This is okay. If the dough ends up being too wet to roll out, we'll just work in some more flour.
  6. Load up your pasta roller attachment and set it on its lowest (widest) setting. On the Kitchenaid attachment, this is level 1. Run one piece of dough through the roller, then fold it in thirds (like a tri-fold wallet) and run it through again. If the dough is sticking to the roller and tearing, try dredging the outside in flour before taking that second pass through the roller. Also, the kitchenaid roller is pretty much self-cleaning. If the dough stuck and tore, wait a minute for the roller to clean off the residue and check under the roller for any clumps of dough lurking there. Cleaning off all of that helps to prevent sticking.
  7. Repeat rolling out the dough on that first setting and then folding the dough up and running it through again a few times - until the dough is smooth and is no longer sticking.
  8. Run the dough twice through each higher setting until you've reached the desired thickness. At each progressively thinner setting, the dough should widen and lengthen a bit until you end up with a long flat sheet. If you started with a fairly large piece of dough, you may want to cut the strip in half at some point for ease of handling.
  9. If you are hand cutting wide strips of dough or are using the sheets of dough for ravioli or lasagna, then you are pretty much done at this point. However, if you are making fettuccine or some similar noodle, you can break out your cutting attachment of choice and run the sheets of pasta dough through it to create your noodles.
  10. Hang the noodles so they are not touching until you are ready to cook them. If they are touching, they may end up sticking together and getting all clumpy. I find that a drying rack for clothes works really well for this (just give it a good wipe first). Clothes hangers also get the job done.
  11. To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop the pasta inside, giving it a good stir. You may have noticed that the pasta has not been seasoned, which is why the salt in the cooking water is so important. The pasta absorbs some of that salt, which adds a lot of flavor. Keep in mind that fresh pasta cooks much much faster than dried, so keep a close eye on it.
  12. If you want to freeze your pasta for another night, forgo the hanging step and simply twirl the pasta into a little nest with a fork. Then bag the nests and stick them into the freezer. They should last a few months in there. When you want to cook the frozen pasta, just drop the frozen nest into a pot of salted, boiling water. No need to thaw.
 

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