Making Fresh Pasta

fresh pasta

Before you go making pasta, it is imperative that you first acknowledge a few truths. Truth #1: Making great, fresh pasta and home is not that difficult. Truth #2: (a slight contradiction to #1) It can be tricky at first, and your first batch may not be all you’d hoped it would be but… Truth #3: With a little practice, patience, trial, and error, you’ll get the hang of it and will henceforth be able to crank out a batch with ease, whenever you need one.

food processor

dough, post fridge

pasta dough

cranking out

ready to rock

Fresh Pasta

This method, which is officially my favorite and easiest by far, demands the help of a food processor. If you do not have one, I recommend the hand mixing method, which¬†I used over a year ago, during my first go-round with pasta making. Since then, I’ve found that the food processor saves you a lot of time and heavy-lifting. The addition of semolina gives the pasta some additional flavor, firm texture and beautiful color, but if you don’t have any, AP flour can be substituted. ***Please note that this is more a guide for making the dough and not a recipe. Since results vary depending on pasta thickness and shape, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular make of pasta maker, and test your pasta often when cooking.

2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 cups semolina flour
6 eggs
a few tablespoons of water

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a large food processor (if you don’t have a big one then divide your ingredients evenly and do it in two batches) and pulse until they are homogenous, clumpy and sticky (see second picture in this post). If you feel like your flour is not hydrating enough from the eggs alone (lots of dry spots, not enough wet spots with which to combine them), add a tablespoon of water and pulse well. You are aiming for a sticky dough but not one that is at all wet on the surface.

Remove the dough from the food processor and ¬†begin to knead on a floured surface. As you knead, the dough will go from sticky and mealy-textured to smooth and satiny. The dough will feel very stiff, but it is important to continue kneading. I’ve kneaded as long as ten minutes before I achieved the desired result. You will know when you are there when the surface of the dough feels like silk with absolutely no textural differences or sticky-ness. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour or for up to two days.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Follow manufacturer’s instructions if you are using a pasta machine or mixer attachment. If you are going to roll and cut by hand, be sure to use flour to prevent sticking, roll to desired thickness and then cut to desired shape.

Follow recommended cooking times from the manufacturer, as cooking varies with pasta thickness. I’ve found that four minutes in boiling water for standard fettuccine works to get the pasta cooked to al dente, but test yours as you cook to find what works for you. I’ve found that when rolling out the dough, starting with the widest setting, at which point the pasta seems like a crumbly mess, doubling, and then gradually rolling it down to thinner settings works best. At first it may seem hopeless, but after a few turns and doubles, the gluten will start to hold the pasta together and you will be surprised how strong it gets.

I’ve frozen my pasta before, with OK results. I tossed mine in semolina to help prevent sticking and wrapped it in parchment and then double wrapped it in plastic wrap. Even so, some of it still stuck and cooking time was less predictable. I’m happier making the pasta right before I boil it.