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Many years ago I was lucky enough to take a pasta making class in Italy. It was so incredible - we made a five course meal that was to die for and I absolutely loved every moment of it. The best part of the class was learning to make my own pasta from scratch. I LOVE pasta, and had always wanted to make my own.
A few months later I returned home, and decided to give it a try all by myself.... and it was a major failure. It took me HOURS, and it came out terrible - almost inedible. I could not for the life of me figure out where I went wrong!
Fast forward about 10 years, and I had another opportunity to take a pasta making class - this time in Cape Cod. This class was life changing! It turns out I was missing one essential tool 10 years ago: a KitchenAid mixer. After discovering this, and after the phenomenal class at The West Village Pasta and Cheese Shop in Dennis, I've been a pasta making wiz!
Now, while it is easy to make your own pasta, it's not quick. Make sure you have a good amount of time blocked off - I usually like to spend rainy Saturdays making pasta and watching movies (for example, Indiana Jones.)
How to Make Your Own Pasta from Scratch
Servings: 4-6 Servings Prep Time: 30 Minutes (plus 15 mins to 2 hours of "rest" for dough)
A rimmed baking sheet
A KitchenAid Mixer
The Pasta Making Attachment for the KitchenAid (or this awesome multipack that I have)
A bench scraper
Dry measuring cups
Damp dish towels
3 large eggs
2 cups semolina flour
1 Tbs Salt
Extra flour in a small bowl for dusting dough
In a bowl, combine 2 cups semolina flour with 1 tbs salt. Dump flour mixture on clean, dry surface.
Use your hand to make a little well in the flour, with the edge deep enough that you can pour the three eggs into the center without them spilling over. Once the walls are high enough, add the eggs.
Using a fork, start to slowly combine the flour and eggs, gently adding a little flour at a time from the inner walls of your well. Use your fork as a whisk, and make large but gentle circles with your wrist as you mix to introduce air to the dough mixture (for "fluffier" pasta.)
Continue to mix flour into the eggs a little at a time. Once the egg ad flour are too difficult to mix with the fork, you will switch to kneading the dough by hand.
This is where things get fun (and hard!) Knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes or more until it reaches a smooth, elastic consistency. When you press your thumb into the top of your dough ball, your fingerprint should bounce back and disappear.
When your dough reaches the right consistency, cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Watch a movie! Or do some chores, but movies are more fun. Oh, and wine.
Ok, back to work. Once the dough has had time to rest, divide it into fifths. Take one fifth and gently flatten it into a disk, and recover the remaining dough with plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out.
Turn your KitchenAid mixer on to medium speed. With the pasta making attachment on the widest setting, run the disk through the roller twice.
Next, bring the ends of the disk toward the middle and press down to seal. Feed the dough back through the pasta roller with the open side of the dough fed in first. Fold the dough the same way, and run it through once more.
Lightly dust dough with flour. Without folding again, run pasta through widest setting two more times until dough is smooth. Change pasta attachment to next setting down and run pasta through again. Dust dough with flour again, change the attachment down another setting, and run the dough through once. Continue this process, narrowing the attachment by one setting and dusting with flour each time you pass the dough through.
Once you've reached the last setting, you should be able to see the outline of your hand through the pasta. Cut the pasta sheet to your desired length (I usually cut each sheet into thirds so it'll fit nicely on my baking sheet.)
Place the sheets of pasta on a clean dish towel on the baking sheet, and cover with a damp dish towel to keep the sheets from drying out. Make sure there is plenty of flour on the pasta sheets so they don't stick together.
Repeat this process with the other 4 disks of dough, making sure to keep the dough you aren't using covered and damp until you are ready for it.
Decide what shape pasta you'd like to make. If you have special pasta attachments for your KitchenAid, just run each sheet through your attachment once to make your desired pasta shape (I love the fettuccine attachment.) Or, if you don't have any other attachments, use a pizza cutter and cut your own strands of pasta! Make them as thick or thin as you'd like. Be sure to keep all sheets covered with a damp towel until you use them, and then cover the pasta again once you've shaped it.
Cooking and Storing Pasta
At this point you can either cook the pasta if it's dinner time, refrigerate it if you have an hour or two, or freeze it if you'd like to use it another day. If you plan to store it for any length of time, make sure you put it in a nicely sealed container so it doesn't get freezer burn. If you freeze it, you do not need to defrost it before you cook it - you can cook it right from it's frozen state! It might just take a minute or two longer.
When you cook this pasta, keep a close eye on it. It will not take as long to cook as boxed pasta from the store. Take a piece of pasta out every few minutes to taste it and see if it's ready. Cooking time will vary depending on the shape of the pasta.
What can go wrong?
Using too much flour - When you first form your dough ball, it's important that you don't use too much flour or your dough will crumble and fall apart when you try to roll it out. If your dough seems dry, add water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time and continue kneading it until it seems moist enough.
Using too little flour - This makes the dough super sticky and it'll be impossible to work with. I made this mistake not too long ago, and my fettuccine strands became one giant glob when I had them under my damp towel. (I still ate it....)
Not rolling dough thin enough - This will make the dough chewy and tough. You want the pasta to be very thin - it'll thicken up a bit once you cook it.
Cooking pasta too long - It takes no time at all to cook fresh pasta. It does NOT take 10 minutes like the pasta you buy at the store. If you cook it too long, it becomes mushy. Cooking time can vary depending on the type of pasta, so make sure you monitor it closely and pull out pieces to taste frequently.
What is your favorite pasta shape? I obviously love fettuccine, but I also LOVE making farfalle. Someday I'll post instructions on making farfalle by hand!