Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pasta Dough

I often experiment with different pasta dough recipes. When making a new dough I take quick notes that I first scribble out on a piece of paper and then enter into a journal. I record both successes and failures (the later being particularly important to avoid repeating mistakes). I keep track of:
  • The type, brand and weight of flour
  • When making an egg pasta, the amount and size of eggs and/or egg yolks
  • The type and amount of any added liquid and/or fat
  • How long I knead the dough and how much the finished dough weighs (to gauge serving portions for future reference)
  • How long the dough rests and whether it rests at room temperature or in the refrigerator
  • If rolled, the final setting that I run the dough through on my pasta machine.

When I take my scribbles and make a journal entry I add some quick notes on what worked and what I might try different in the future. Sometimes I add a drawing (or if a shape is particularly complicated, my youngest daughter takes over the drawing).

Why do I go through this process? It helps me to achieve greater consistency when I make pasta. The notes also provide reference points to consider when I want to try something new.

Over the last few months I find myself coming back to the following pasta dough recipe. It makes a firm dough; the pasta has a great bite. I cut the sheets by hand with a pastry wheel. If asked to classify the shape, I’d call it pappardelle. The recipe serves three as a main course and four as a starter.
  • 100 grams Giusto’s all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams Giusto’s Extra Fancy Durum
  • 5 medium egg yolks
  • 1 medium egg
  • Salt

When I make pasta with this dough I follow the steps described in my post on pappardelle with these changes: (1) mix the all-purpose and durum flour together before sifting the flour; (2) knead the dough for 15 minutes; (3) let the dough rest 1½ hours in the refrigerator; and (4) after rolling the dough out to the desired thickness (I like this pasta on the thicker side), cut the sheet with a knife or pastry wheel into pieces that are approximately 1-inch wide and 8-inches long.

Expect the dough to start out on the dry side. I often have to add the smallest amount of water—a single spritz from a water bottle—to incorporate all of the flour in my mixing bowl. The dough should weigh about 345 grams after kneading.

The pasta from this recipe can take a range of sauces. It tasted delicious both with a tomato sauce with sausage and with a (quasi-vegetarian) artichoke sauce.

Leading photo: Porcelain Cup by Ayumi Horie / Ayumi Horie Pottery