Making Homemade Pasta for the First Time

Homemade Pasta

First time using my hand-crank pasta machine. Amazing!!

There is nothing like making your own pasta from scratch. Not buying the dough and rolling it out. I mean making the mess with the flour on the table. Waiting impatiently for the dough to set in the refrigerator. Getting a good arm workout with the hand-crank. THAT is making homemade pasta.

The conundrum I had was that homemade pasta, the authentic Italian way, is made with different flour. Semolina flour is very finely milled, and even if regular white flour is used, it is 00 grade (finest milled). I did not have the time to run around to various Italian Import Stores in New York, so I went for the next best thing. I do know that whole wheat pasta is better for you than the alternative, so I scoured the internet for a basic recipe. I wound up resorting to Lydia Bastianich’s recipe for Homemade Pasta Dough.  It called for the most basic ingredients PLUS olive oil, which I knew deep down inside was necessary. The recipe was quite simple, but she did not give me a tutorial on how to roll it out. To my (happy) surprise, there is a plethora of  Youtube videos on how to roll out pasta dough by hand. I watched Jamie Oliver do it once, and it looked so easy and fast! Needless to say, however, non-egg pasta needs to set a bit before it gets all crumbly in the machine. I watched a certain Giuliano Hazan do it, and I pretended I was the female version of Jamie while I rolled out my first ever pasta dough.

Homemade Pasta

What you see above is the result of a food processor, 1 cup of white flour, 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and a splash of water. It doesn’t form a ball in the processor, so you would need to turn it out on a wooden board. And here’s a tip: kneading dough HAS to be on a wooden board or pastry board. I tried to do it directly on the table and it got stuck all over the place. So use wood only and you will thank yourself.

The amount of dough that came out was a bit too large for my pasta rolling machine, so I split it into thirds, wrapped it up, and set it in the refrigerator while I did something else for a half hour (ok, not really, I paced back and forth for most of that time). Once out, I smashed one batch down with the palm of my hand and readied myself for the machine. Clapped hard onto my table, hand-crank installed, I took a deep breath. Following instructions, I set it on the widest setting and prepared to roll out the dough at least 7 times. If God can make earth after 7 tries, I can make pasta in 7 as well.

Homemade Pasta

At this point (above), I rolled it out 7 times at the widest setting, always folding it back on itself and feeding it through vertically. After the seven times, I rolled it through ONCE on each of the remaining settings. I stopped at level 2. It was getting so long! In order for it to not stick to itself while I folded it, I had to dust more flour on it. Talk about a flour mess! But I promised myself it would be all worth it in the end. I also realized such a small amount of dough can easily feed two to three people. That means the amount of dough from the processor is enough for 6 dishes at least! I was impressed.

So now what to do? Do I hand slice it? Make shapes? NO! I feed it through the tagliatelle attachment the machine came with! The cover photo above is view from below, but here’s a view from above:

Homemade Pasta

I had to cut the long strip of dough into quarters in order to handle it the right way. When each sheet became a lumpy, stringy pile of pasta, I figured I should dust with flour again to prevent sticking. Good call I made, because they DO stick to each other. I giddily ran the rest through, and became so enthralled during the process that I forgot to start boiling the water! You see, folks, fresh pasta means FRESH. Leaving it on the counter while your water heats to boil will encourage even more stickiness and you will end up with clumps instead of pasta ribbons. The flour dusting helped more than I thought, but still…I wish I had the water ready to go.

But here’s my pretty pasta piles! Aren’t they GORGEOUS?

Homemade Pasta

Once in the water, BEWARE! The fresher it is, the less it needs to cook. Seriously, 1 – 2 minutes is ALL it needs. Make sure your sauce is nearby and hot in a pan where you can strain the pasta with a thronged-slotted spoon and put it directly in the sauce. Make sure everyone is at the table waiting, because this needs to be eaten quickly. Not only because it will start melting, but because it’s just too good for wait for.

All in all, not bad for my first try. I’ll have two more chances really soon with my leftover two-thirds of the dough, so subscribe and come back soon!

 

QUESTION FOR THE COMMENTS:

What are the best tips and tricks you have for making pasta dough?

 

One comment

  • July 8, 2013 - 12:17 am | Permalink

    There’s something deeply satisfying about making your own pasta. It’s a great transformation of flour and egg. The dough is a pleasure to touch as it becomes smoother and smoother. Like mayonnaise and stock you make at home, you can’t buy homemade pasta at the store. Even pasta sold as fresh isn’t like the noodles you make at home. If you want, you can do something cool, like an egg yolk ravioli . Or this lasagna bolongese from Three Squabbling Asians (notice they use the well method). In summer you can make a quick tomato water sauce . But simple is great too. Homemade pasta with butter and veal salt is a dream.

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