Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fresh pasta dough

I did it, I did it! I have finally conquered the homemade, fresh pasta-making! Now my pasta dough is beautiful and velvety! :)

The first time I made pasta dough, I used my favorite Food Network chef's recipe - Mr. Alton Brown. Alton has NEVER failed me. His chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe is our go-to recipe. And he helped us conjure up our first turkey for our families this Christmas, which was so juicy. But his pasta dough recipe was a fail. More than once fail. I kept giving it a shot thinking it was me being new to pasta making. Or maybe it was because I was using a hand-cranked pasta machine. After several attempts, the dough was just still too sticky, and hard to roll/cut. I even used more flour to combat the wetness. But I think the problem with the recipe was that he had you refrigerating the pasta dough before rolling/cutting. I think all that moisture from sitting in the fridge just ruined the dough.

Then one day I was watching Food Network and saw Anne Burrell make fresh pasta for a wild boar ragu. She didn't rest her dough in the fridge. Aha number one! I memorized it so I could give it a shot: 4 cups flour, 4 eggs, 1 egg yolk, olive oil, and salt. When I tried it though, the dough wouldn't come together. I was about to give up until Matt said, why not add more eggs? Why not waste a couple more eggs as opposed to tossing out 4 cups and 5 eggs worth of pasta dough, right? So I added 2 more eggs, another tsp of water, and a couple drizzle of olive oil. And it started to form together! Not gonna lie, I was doing a happy dance. After letting it rest on the counter for an hour, I went for the true test, the rolling part. And it was tough to roll (I think because there was so much of it), but it rolled. And cut out into nice fettuccine noodles too! So 4 cups of flour, 6 eggs, 1 egg yolk, 2 tsp water,1/4 cup of olive oil, and some salt later, I had enough pasta dough for 2 separate meals, lasting a week each. It made a lot of pasta.

So last week, I tried it again. This time, shrinking the ratios down for just one dish. It turned out perfect. The dough came together nicely with no problems, rolled out easily, and was so velvety. Below is my recipe for fresh pasta dough, the final one I'll be using for all my pasta-making now:

Fresh Pasta Dough

2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp water
1 tsp salt

Put the flour on a large work surface and create a wide well in the middle. This well is where you'll add your wet ingredients.

Add the rest of the ingredients into the well. Using a fork, carefully beat the liquid mixture together. Begin to incorporate the flour into the liquid mixture, a little at a time. Be careful not to break the sides of the well or you'll have a huge liquid mess! When enough flour has incorporated into the mixture, use your hands to get everything well combined. Then start kneading your gathered dough. Knead for a good 10 mins. Kneading is really important to get the dough smooth and velvety. When you finish kneading, wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Let it rest on the counter for at least an hour.

Beautiful pasta dough

This is how it should not look (fragments of what the dough looked like when I tried Anne's recipe and the dough wouldn't come together).

To roll the dough:
Cut off half the dough, reserve the other half and keep it wrapped.
Shape the dough into an oval shape, and flatten it to about 6 inches long (that way it can fit through the pasta machine). Dust with flour.
On the widest setting (my machine's widest setting is 7), roll the dough through.
Fold the dough into thirds, turn the dough 90 degrees, and then roll it through the machine again.
Fold the dough into thirds, turn the dough 90 degrees, and then roll it through one last time on setting 7.
Turn the machine to the next lowest setting, 6, and roll the dough through. Repeat, adjusting to the next lowest setting each time, until you reach the desired thinness for your pasta. (I like thinness setting 3.)
(Tip: To make rolling easier, dust pasta dough with flour each time you roll.)
Dust the rolled pasta sheet with flour and set aside. Then work on rolling the other half of the dough reserved earlier.
When you have all your finished pasta sheets, cut into your desired pasta noodles. Then dust with flour.

Cook pasta noodles in salted, boiling water for a few mins. Fresh pasta doesn't take long to cook.

It might seem like a lot of work, but you end up with pasta that is so different from store-bought noodles. Fresh pasta is lighter, not as dense. And it's called fresh for a reason.

Check back for 3 pasta dishes I made with my fresh pasta dough!
**Homemade Fettuccine with a Truffle-Dill Sauce
**Lemon-Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo
**Bacon and Leek Filled Ravioli

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