Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pasta dough

So yesterday I made pasta dough, which I haven't made long time. I was watching the eggs episode of Jamie Oliver's relatively new show "Jamie at Home" and he made an egg tagliatelli using a simple pasta recipe, so I decided to try it out.

I had read somewhere (some blogs, etc.) that mentioned that you can use cake flour for pasta dough, and that it simulates Italian "00" grind wheat flour more closely. Cake flour has fairly low gluten, and is made of soft wheat, while "regular" all-purpose flour is made of hard wheat. Hard wheat flours (such as semolina or durum wheat) result in pasta that has more "tooth", whereas soft wheat flours (such as cake flour and Italian 00) result in softer pastas.

I had a box of Swan's Down cake flour, supposedly expiring 2007, so I figured I would try it, what the heck. Turned out really well; finished product was really tender and delicious. No real tooth to speak of, but certainly nicer than the wontons I used last time for the butternut squash ravioli.

The thing that made this great was the food processor. The key is: check/add flour/pulse/repeat. The "check" is checking for stickiness and checking for texture (should be breadcrumbs). So here it is:

Pasta Dough 1.0

4 eggs
2.5-3 cups cake flour, unsifted
(possibly more; I think it will end up at least 3 cups flour, perhaps even more)
Cake flour for kneading/dusting

Add eggs to food processor, and 2.5 cups flour. Pulse/mix until it comes together into a ball. Touch the dough and see if it's sticky (probably will be). Add more flour (about 1/3 cup at a time), pulse some more. Dough should start to turn into pea sized pieces; add more flour and pulse, and check. Repeat; You want to end up with breadcrumb style pieces (like panko, not dust crumbs, bigger crumbs).

Dump it out onto the board, knead it for a couple of minutes until the dust comes together, and the texture is smooth. Dust with flour as necessary to prevent sticking. It may still be a bit tacky, but that's OK.

Press dough into disc, wrap with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 15-30 minutes on counter or in fridge.

Set up pasta machine on biggest setting (mine has #1 - #7, #1 is thickest). Remove dough from plastic, mash into approximate thick square, and run it thru #1. Rub flour into both sides, fold in half, put the folded dough into machine at #1 setting. Repeat 4 times.

Then start running it through each setting, 1 to 7, in order. After each run, rub some flour on both sides. If the piece gets too long, just cut it before continuing feeding it through. Dust leftover piece with flour, fold it and cover with a cloth.

Rub flour the finished product liberally on both sides. Use immediately, or fold it over and cover with a towel until you're ready to use.

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