Pasta happens to be one of my favorite things to eat and if you have ever worked with me or have attended any of my cooking classes, you would know that it is also one of my favorite things to make. There are so many ways to make different pasta dishes and each one can bring different flavors and textures. Making pasta dough from scratch can really make your pasta dish standout and while it might take some time, it truly is worth it! A great pasta dish is so much more than one thing. A truly great pasta dish requires everything to be in balance
We know you can't make fresh pasta dough every time you want to eat pasta so this recipe is great for those date nights, special ocassions or where you're just wanting to have a bit of fun in the kitchen.
Different types of pasta dough
Pasta is the perfect comfort food dish to put on a table when friends or family gather that can please everyone. Saying you don't like pasta is like saying you don't like a sandwich. With over 600 different shapes of pasta recognized by the International Pasta Organization, the possibilities truly are limitless and there is certainly a combination of flavors and textures that can appeal to everyone.
Laminated dough: This dough is is rolled out over and over again to develop texture and bite, such as pappardelle or fettuccine. This dough is usually made with more flour and has a stiffer texture when rolled out, as opposed to other pasta doughs. I always think back to those samurai movies and how the steel for the sharpest swords were folded back over itself time and time again to develop those reinforced layers. While it is not to the same extent, the concept holds true. When you fold the dough back over itself many times and continue to roll it out, the resulting pasta has a strong texture and is perfect for a heartier dish such as Pappardelle alla lepre or even lasagne.
Filled dough: Another type of dough is a filled dough that is rolled into sheets and then typically pipped with something and sealed, such as ravioli and tortellini. This dough, unlike the one mentioned above, is made with a little less flour and is typically only rolled out as many times as is needed to get the desired thickness. With a filled dough, the dough does not need to be as sturdy, and is often not the “star of the show,” but more so a “supporting actor/actress” to the filling. You want to keep this dough soft and gentle so that the filling can stay nestled inside. If you develop as much texture with this dough as you did with the laminated dough, the pasta will have too much of a bite and the person enjoying the pasta will be forced to press all the filling out of the dough before they can bite through it.
Hand rolled dough: A hand rolled dough is another type. This pasta dough is typically made with less eggs and the addition of water so the dough is a bit more malleable. It is then hand rolled into shapes such as spaghetti or bucatini. This technique, in my opinion, is by far the most time consuming, but it will sure give you a new sense of appreciation for spaghetti and bucatini.
Extruded dough: The last type of dough we will cover (although there truly are hundreds of variations) is an extruded dough. Extruded doughs are made with a tougher, and oftentimes coarser flour such as semolina, and water, and are meant to be put into a pasta extruder which pushes out shapes such as rigatoni and penne. Think of an extruder as a pasta grinder that has dies that have different shapes for different doughs.
Ingredients for making pasta dough
While everyone and their grandmother has a different recipe for pasta dough, we will be covering how to make a laminated pasta dough. For that type, I prefer to use a ratio that is high in egg yolks and uses “00” flour. This will result in a soft wheat flour and a smooth and sheen dough.
"00" flour: by far my favorite flour to use because it is one of the most refined you can find and although it is “soft wheat", it still has a high protein content which leads to your pasta having a firm bite.
Cornmeal or semolina: I like to put my rolled pasta on a tray coated in cornmeal or semolina. The reason I do that as opposed to flour is because the pasta will continue to absorb the flour while it sits and will either become too dry or cause the flour to form wet clumps that adhere to the dough. The cornmeal/semolina simply prevents the pasta from sticking to the tray and absorbs the excess moisture without clumping or sticking.
Equipment needed for making homemade pasta dough
Before starting the rolling process, you need to make sure you get your mise en place (French for everything in its place) because you will want to work relatively quickly to not dry out the unrolled dough but you also don't want to be tracking flour all over your kitchen trying to retrieve the equipment you need. The equipment I always like to have handy when rolling out pasta is the following:
A rolling cutter (or pizza cutter)
A rolling pin
An offset spatula
A sheet tray (or cookie sheet) covered with a thin layer of cornmeal or semolina
A straight-edged plastic bowl scraper
Steps for rolling the dough
Divide the dough: To begin, you'll want to clear off a large portion of your countertop before starting to roll and make sure the roller is firmly connected to the counter. You will want the dough to be about room temperature when rolling so make sure you pull it out of the fridge about 30 minutes prior to rolling. Divide the dough into four equal portions and keep three of the portions wrapped or covered with a slightly damp cloth to prevent the dough from drying out.
Roll the dough flat: Take the first portion and roll it flat with your rolling pin so that it can fit through the thickest setting on your pasta roller. You will want to roll the dough as close to the 6-inch width of the roller as possible so that you can get as much pasta from each sheet.
Folding the dough: While cranking your roller, feed the dough through the roller, guiding it slowly, until the sheet comes through completely. At this point, you will want to feel the dough. If at any point through the rolling process the dough feels sticky or wet, add more flour by splashing the flour onto the dough and wiping off the excess. Fold the sheet of dough into overlapping thirds, similar to folding a letter, and run it through the roller on the thickest setting again.
Repeating the process: Repeat this process another 4-5 times and then switch the roller setting to the next thickest setting and continue the rolling process 2-3 times. Then continue to the next setting and roll the dough through 2 times, during the second roll, do not fold the dough over itself again, simply roll the dough through without folding. Adjust the roller to the next setting and roll it through without folding the dough over itself. For most pasta rollers, this will be thin enough to cut, but because not all rollers have the same settings, you may have to continue to go a few more rolls thinner. If you do have to continue rolling, roll the dough out once on each setting and do not fold the dough over itself anymore.
Dusting the excess: Once you have the sheet rolled to your desired thickness, square the sheets off with your rolling cutter and portion them into portions that are about 8-10 inches long. Lightly dust them with four, wipe off the excess and put them to the side to dry before cutting. Repeat the following process on the three other portions of dough until all the dough has been rolled into sheets.
Creating the pasta noodles
Using the cutter attachment on your pasta roller, roll each sheet through, one by one, dusting the strands with flour and shaking off the excess before placing them in neat lines onto the sheet tray with cornmeal/semolina. Allow the pasta to dry at room temp for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
Cooking the pasta noodles
When cooking fresh pasta, the cooking time is much shorter than if cooking dried pasta because there is no need to “rehydrate” the noodles.
Fill a large port with water: To start, you will want to fill a large pot with a gallon of water and bring it to a rapid boil. I like to add the salt to the water right after it begins to boil for two reasons. One, I don’t have to worry about the sodium residue that forms on my pot and stove top from the elongated cooking period and two, I don’t have to worry about the water reducing too much and making my water too salty if I do not cook my pasta right away. When adding salt to the pasta water, I like to use about 3-4 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water, but to be honest, I never measure, I simply make the water taste like the ocean.
Add the noodles: Once the salt is in the water and has once again begun to boil, take your pasta and lift it off the tray and wipe off the excess cornmeal/semolina and drop it into the water. You will probably need to do this in two separate batches (do not overload the pot). Boil the pasta for four minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they are not sticking to each other and then remove the noodles from the water. You want the noodles to be completely cooked but not soft. If necessary, repeat the process with the remaining noodles. Before straining the cooking water, save about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water to add to your sauce (this is a classical Italian technique for seasoning many pasta sauces).
Transfer the noodles: Transfer your noodles into the pot with your desired sauce or accompaniments, along with the pasta water and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes before serving.
Storing cooked pasta noodles
If you plan on using the noodles at a later date, submerge the noodles into a bowl of ice water until they are fully chilled. When chilled, strain them, allowing the noodles to sit for about 5 minutes in the strainer to allow the excess water to run off. Finally, toss them with about 1 tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil and store them in a wide container, loosely packed, in your refrigerator until needed.
Making pasta dough from scratch is a truly memorable experience!
Cheers and eat well!
Homemade Pasta Dough
A versatile homemade pasta dough that will give you a smooth and rich dough with the perfect al dente bite. This recipe calls for a stand mixer.
Add whole eggs, egg yolks, olive oil and salt into your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.
Mix until everything comes together and add about 1 ½ cups of the flour. Mix till the flour is fully absorbed and add the rest of the flour, starting the mixer slowly to ensure flour does not fly up the sides of the mixer and make a mess.
Mix until the dough forms (about 5 minutes) and then continue mixing for an additional 5 minutes.
Take the dough out of the mixer and coat lightly with olive oil.
Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and put in the cooler and allow it to relax for at least 30 minutes before rolling.
Roll out the pasta dough into your desired shape and cook it in a large pot of salted boiling water for about four minutes in boiling water for al dente.
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