Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pasta! Pasta!

Home made pasta is very, very easy, if you've got the tools.

Rustic hand-rolled pasta offers a unique texture, but kneading pasta by hand isn't for everyone. Compared to bread dough, pasta dough can be pretty solid stuff.

While kneading bread dough with a stand mixer is easy, it doesn't do such a great job with pasta dough.

Ah, but a food processor! Now there's a device that can blast through dense pasta dough.

For the rolling, I used the pasta roller attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer. Because a food processor can't do that, can it? And I used the pasta cutter attachment for the stand mixer to do the cutting.

Pasta! Pasta!

4 1/2 ounces semolina flour
4 1/2 ounces bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup of water (more or less, as needed)

Put the flours and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse a few times to combine. With the processor running, add the egg, then add the water slowly, just as fast as the flour can absorb it. When it begins to gather into a ball, stop adding water, but continue processing for another 30 seconds or so.

Check the dough. At this point, it should be soft and pliable. The gluten won't be fully developed, but we'll get to that.

Remove the dough from the processor and gather it together. Wrap in plastic wrap or put it into a plastic bag to rest for an hour.

When you're ready to roll the pasta, divide it into 2 pieces. Set the pasta roller to its widest setting (1) and feed the first piece of pasta dough through. It might tear or look lumpy and shaggy. No problem. If it seems a little too sticky, you can very lightly dust it with a bit of flour.

Fold the dough in half, and send it through again. Keep folding and sending the pasta through the roller until it is smooth, silky, and elastic. Then set the rollers for the next thinnest setting and send the dough through. Set it lower again, and send it through. At this point, you get to decide how thin you want your pasta to be. Keep in mind that after it cooks, it will be thicker. I decided to quit rolling on setting 5.

After the pasta is thin enough, dust the pasta with a bit of flour and attach the cutting attachment to the stand mixer. Run the pasta through the cutter. Dust the strands well with flour to keep them from sticking to each other while you heat the water to cook them.

Since this is fresh pasta, it doesn't take long to cook. When I cooked mine, it was done cooking before my water came back to a boil. So watch it carefully.