Just one bite of fresh pasta and you may never want to buy premade pasta again. Homemade pasta is something everyone should make at least once in their lifetime. Whether you want to knead, roll, and cut the dough by hand, or use a stand mixer to mix and a roller to flatten and cut, remember these essential homemade pasta tips and tricks!
1. Remember Basic Ratio for Ingredients
As a general rule, the pasta dough ratio is three parts flour to two parts eggs to one part water by weight. If you don’t have a scale, use 1 cup of flour and two eggs per serving. There are variations on this, many depending on if you also want to add water or oil, the type of flour, and if you want to add additional yolks to the mix for a richer dough.
The best flour for pasta is a bit subjective. Many chefs believe a combination of 00 flour and semolina flour make for a perfect dough that isn’t hard and not too soft either. 00 flour is a very finely ground, high-protein flour made from durum wheat. Semolina flour looks like cornmeal, but it’s made from wheat.
2. Traditional Mixing Is Best
The traditional way of making dough from scratch – with a well of flour, and the eggs and salt in the middle and using a fork to draw the flour slowly into the liquid – ensures the perfect amount of flour gets added before kneading into a nice ball of dough.
3. If You Are Short On Time…
For those who prefer to use stand mixers, hold back a bit of the flour and only add it when the dough is too sticky or add a spoonful or two of water if the dough is too dry.
4. Get A Feel Of The Dough
Making pasta from scratch is more about a feeling, rather than measurements. Depending on the humidity, the flour, the size of the eggs, you may need more or less flour for proper consistency, so getting a feel for the dough is essential.
5. Pasta Dough Needs To Be Kneaded
Once the dough is mixed, it’s all about the kneading. It will take up to 10 minutes to transform the shaggy mix into a smooth and elastic ball. The dough is ready when there is elasticity. To test, stick your knuckle into the dough. It should slowly push back. If you create an indentation and the dough just stays, you need to continue kneading.
6. Rest The Dough
A little forethought here is key because you’ll want to let the dough relax for at least an hour before proceeding. This is what allows the gluten to form, which will give your pasta the chew it needs. This will make it smoother and easier to deal with when rolling it out.
7. Roll It Out
No matter what tool you use to roll out the dough, remember to have some extra flour nearby to make sure the pasta does not stick to the countertops or to itself. Lightly dust the pasta as you work.
8. Salt The Cooking Water
Pasta water should be salted to taste like the ocean because that is going to flavor the noodles. Use 3 tablespoons of salt per 4 quarts of boiling water. Add in the fresh pasta, and then immediately begin to stir it gently so that the noodles do not stick together. Continue to cook until the pasta rises to the surface and is al dente. This should take two or three minutes. Then strain the fresh pasta and immediately use it.
9. Never Rinse The Pasta!
If you rinse pasta after cooking, you rinse off the starch adhering to the noodles. The starch helps the sauce cling to the noodle.
10. Store Pasta If You’re Not Cooking It Right Away
If waiting to cook the pasta, divide it into portions, dust with a little bit of flour to keep the noodles from sticking together, and then make nest-like bundles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until ready. Fresh pasta can also be frozen for future meals. Frozen pasta should be cooked directly from the freezer.
If you’ve ever tasted fresh pasta, you probably don’t need any convincing. The firm, toothsome bite and rich, eggy flavor are pretty much irresistible. When you tell your friends you made the pasta from scratch, you are sure to get plenty of oohs and aahs.