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Old 09-29-2004, 10:25 AM   #1
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Who makes their own pasta? I need your help!

My wonderful husband made me the proud mother of an Atlas 150 with all the bells-and-whistles attachments this year. And I have to say that even my pasta tastes so much better than the boxed stuff. I'm brand new at this, having made fettuccini four times now (love adding spinach or herbs!) and ravioli twice, and would appreciate your dough recipes and advice. Is pasta flour really better than all-purpose?

My biggest woe is with ravioli. When cooked, the dough is...well...kind of rubbery and not the delicate little package I had envisioned. I always "rest" my dough, wrapped in plastic, in the fridge for at least an hour, and I've tried rolling the stuff much thinner, but then it dissentegrates when cooking. I know I'm missing something here...

My dough recipe is:

3 C. durum semolina
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt

Using my food processor, I pulse the flour and salt a couple of times, and whisk the eggs, water and olive oil together in a measuring cup, which I then pour in a slow, continuous stream into the flour until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the processor. Then I divide the stuff, wrap each half tightly in lots of plastic wrap, and refridgerate for at least an hour. To make the pasta, I remove a half at a time from the fridge, knead the stuff for a minute, then divide it and begin rolling.

Thoughts...???

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Old 09-29-2004, 11:43 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audeo
Is pasta flour really better than all-purpose?...
My biggest woe is with ravioli. When cooked, the dough is...well...kind of rubbery and not the delicate little package I had envisioned. I always "rest" my dough, wrapped in plastic, in the fridge for at least an hour, and I've tried rolling the stuff much thinner, but then it dissentegrates when cooking.
yea! someone else who makes pasta!

My thoughts (sorta)
I don't see anything wrong with your recipie except possibly(?) semolina flour? Is semolina soft like AP flour or is it slightly grainy? If it's grainy one thought is to substitute white bread flour. Or maybe just cut it with some AP to dilute the gluten content.

> I have problems with the ravioli maker (see http://discusscooking.com/viewtopic.php?t=3001 - kinda scroll down to get to ravioli part) - mainly getting the attachment to work without tearing the dough and smooshing the filling into the crevices of the pasta machine so please tell me how you find using the ravioli attachment. I had abandoned the ravioli attachment because
> as I said, if I roll the dough too thin it tears when I use it
> the filling has to be really fine or smooth
> I can't get the amount of filling and dough to match (minor irritant)

What do you like to use to fill your ravioli? Got a good recipe?
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Old 09-29-2004, 12:31 PM   #3
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Yippee, yippee, yippee!!!! Thanks for the thoughts, subfuscpersona!

A 2lb bag of the durum came in the gift -- the husband is an engineer and spent hours upon hours researching which machine to buy, so I know that's where the flour idea came from -- it's probably what they use in Italy! I've wondered about the gluten content, and even overnight chilling won't improve the rubberyness of the output. I'm going to try bread flour today -- thanks!

As far as the ravioli attachment goes, I personally despise the thing. Messy! Too much effort required to balance the precise width of the dough, as well as the perfect dual dollops of filing. Never could get it to make good raviolis, so I ditched it. What I have found that works wonders, beyond using a stamp, is a pan by Villaware. It's called a "Ravioli Pasta Plaque" and is so simple to use. You roll out a sheet of dough, place over the base (that has fluted cutting edges), use the plastic thingamajig to press the dough into pockets, fill with your filling du jour, place another roll of dough on top, wipe a little egg wash around the edges, then use your rolling pin to seal and cut at the same time. Invert the base unit and the raviolis fall out. Then the engineer husband comes along and presses the edges meticulously to ensure a perfect seal. The plaque makes ten large (2.5") raviolis at a time, by the way. Cost less than $20 on cooking.com.

Fillings? Do I got fillings!!! How about you? Shall we start a new thread for those...hum???
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Old 09-30-2004, 09:33 AM   #4
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so happy to have found you b/c I have lots of questions about your experiences (I'll toss in some thoughts also)

attachments? There appear to be lots - besides the base unit which makes fettucine and spaghetti and that awful ravioli thingy I just have the angel hair cutter
Which ones do you have? Which ones have you used?

flour? Does your semolina flour feel slightly gritty or is it powdery smooth like AP? Have you tried other flours besides semolina? Have you ever tried making whole wheat pasta with whole wheat flour (I haven't but I'm definitely curious). (I use unbleached AP for fettucini but white bread flour for spaghetti/angel hair since I find it's hard to get a clean "cut" with the weaker AP.)

rolling out dough? What number do you roll our the dough to (I think I use 5 for fettucine). Ever rolled dough to 6? (Here's an observation based on experience - after the dough sheets have rested, just before starting to cut, you can thin the sheets again at the same stop number and they'll get even thinner since the gluten is relaxed.)

Quote:
Fillings? Do I got fillings!!! How about you? Shall we start a new thread for those...hum???
I'd love to share filling recipes but I'm still stuck on technique and flour types and pasta dough recipes. I hope you have time to answer my questions (I have more but gotta stop babbling at some point). ?Maybe a new thread for fillings but keep this thread going for the other stuff?

Can't wait to hear back from you...
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Old 10-04-2004, 12:30 AM   #5
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I don't use semolina flour in my pasta dough because it is too dry. It is probably ok to use for a tubular pasta or a shell but I wouldn't use it for sheets of dough. I agree with you about the ravioli attachment. It was just a waste of money for me. I only use flour, eggs, and a little water in my dough. I mix it in the food processor and let it rest on the board for a few minutes under a towel. It always comes out nice and smooth. Donna
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Old 10-04-2004, 01:08 AM   #6
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1. NEVER knead a refrigerated dough. ALWAYS knead the dough before you refrigerate it, especially since you're using a food processor that doesn't knead all that well.

2. Semolina flour is the only flour to use for pasta. Nothing else will give you that flavor.

3. Bread flour (with a higher protein content) will only make your pasta more tough.

I'm not even 100% certain that a food processor does a better job with pasta dough then when done by hand. If you have the time, I would give the well method a shot and compare the results.

I would also play around with the water content in the dough a bit. The more water you add, the more tender the pasta gets, although the dough will have a tendency to get sticky. I think this recipe could handle a little additional water without getting sticky, though. If it is sticky, once it's chilled it will no longer be.
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Old 10-04-2004, 01:47 AM   #7
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Here is how it works:

Semolina- Semolina is the flour we use down in the south for pasta, because wheat doesnt grow as well. We usually use a mix of semolina and 00 flour (You cannot get in the US). Then eggs and maybe water depending on the time of year (humidity for drying).

Your semolina should be really yellow, but from my experience in America the semolina was usually pale, and not very flavourful.

As for pasta machines, I dont like them. I roll out my dough with a rolling pin until its very thin, then fold it over itself until it amkes a long flat like shape, then cut it in 1/4" spaces, or the like. I just look at it and do it. For ravioli, same action. Just roll it out, cut little circles with a circle cutter, fill and seal.

FILLINGS: In the north, they will use anything. In the south, tomato, cheese, and fish fillings mainly.
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Old 10-04-2004, 10:41 AM   #8
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I used to have a pasta machine, but got rid of it years ago, since I found it to labor-intensive.

However, I never did buy the ravioli attachment, as I found it much cheaper to just roll out a sheet and use some small biscuit cutters to cut rounds out of the dough. Brush with an egg-wash, place a little filling in the center, lay the top piece of pasta on, gently press down to squeeze out the air, and use a fork to crimp the edges.

If you really want to use a pasta machine all the time, you might want to get one of Mario Batalli's (sp) cookbooks. He uses fresh pasta all the time. Also, he has some good ideas about making pasta ahead, and freezing for later use.
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Old 10-04-2004, 02:26 PM   #9
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subfuscpersona, I regret the time it has taken me to respond...but, in a way, I'm kind of glad it worked out that way. Look at the advice we have both received here! Pazzo, you seem like a pasta pro from the homeland to me, and I couldn't agree more with the paleness of our semolina here. Do you do everything by hand? Or do you use any extruding devices?

Scott123, I really appreciate your advice on not kneading after refrigeration, as well as using a wetter dough. Makes sense. Those are two immediate changes I will make and judge the difference. Thank you. I'll also try the traditional well mixing method, but the processor is just so convenient. Wouldn't it be interesting if that convenience is part of the problem.

I have tried different flours, subfusc, but I keep going back to the duram semolina. Bread flour was a total disaster (talk about tough!) and AP wasn't much of an improvement. It served a decided decline in taste, too. I have enjoyed delicious pasta from Sicilian mamas, who don't know that any other flour exists for pasta, and their is so good, so tender, so I know it can be done. And I'm anal enough to insist that I figure it out the traditional way, given a modern convenience or two.

As far as attachments go, given we all agree that the ravioli attachment simply isn't what it was cracked up to be, I have the capelli head, as do you. Works very well. I also have the papparadelle, which makes a slightly narrow (2") version of lasagne; the ricce attachment for a nicely fluted fettichini; the spaghetti and the trenette (linguini). I have used them all, probably the ricce more than anything else, and love them. They produce nicely shaped pastas.

What I would really like to work on is shaped pastas, like tortelinis. But it is blatantly obvious from my experiements that this is not only an artform of its own, but requires a mentor. I only wish I knew some south of Chicago. Searching...searching...

And AllenMI, I'm going to ask Santa for a Mario cookbook this year!
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Old 10-04-2004, 11:59 PM   #10
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thanks everyone!

Thanks all. I've learned a lot from this thread - (audeo - know you were busy brining and baking your bird but look what you started LOL).

Looks like semolina flour wins - if I can find some I will try it (yup, know there are sources over the 'net but cost + shipping = darn expensive flour!) I know I won't be able to get that 00-flour. Pazzo I'm interested you "cut" the hi gluten semolina with low gluten 00-flour.

For spaghetti and angel hair pasta I've been more successful with bread flour than AP but everyone has a personal preference for how "tender" they want their noodles. The fun part of making pasta is is you can vary the recipe for the type of noodle you intend to make.

Speaking of pasta recipes, here are some sources
http://www.mangiabenepasta.com/dough.html
http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1-1,pasta_dough,FE.html

For the truly compulsive, a lengthy discussion of Italian vs English flour may be found at
http://www.grainfields.com/flour.html
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