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Made pasta from scratch for first time, turned out tough

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I followed this guide to making pasta from scratch for the first time. https://food52.com/blog... I made three servings, following the guide that serving is 1 egg and 100 g flour. I used 1:3 semolina to 00 flour.

I hand rolled the dough and so my pasta wasn't as thin as it should be -- it was probably 1/8 inch thick. Still, I wouldn't have minded the thickness except that it was awfully tough after I cooked it. I boiled the pasta for about 4 minutes.

I'm wondering -- what can make home pasta tough? Overworking it, underworking it, etc.? Once I know what might have caused it, next time I can experiment by modifying that variable. Thanks!

asked by ItsBrooksie 9 months ago
10 answers 534 views
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added 9 months ago

I am not a pasta expert so you may get better information from others but in general over-working flour doughs is what creates toughness. The gluten protein gets developed with manipulation and causes the dough to be tough.

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added 9 months ago

That is very thick. Also a long time to cook fresh pasta, but that shouldn't make it tough. I question the use of semolina, a high gluten flour, in fresh pasta- semolina pasta stands up well to mechanical handling for dry pasta, but you're probably better off with plain old AP- or imported. OO, if you feel like spending the dough. Still, I've made pasta with high gluten bread flour, and it wasn't noticeably tough; pretty good, actually. I'd say work on the thickness; if you're rolling by hand, it helps to stretch the pasta sideways across your rolling pin (a dowel is best) while rolling forward, and be patient, it takes a little doing to hand roll pasta, and a glutinous dough especially will tend to spring back.

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Sam1148

Sam is a trusted home cook.

added 9 months ago

If you have access to 00 flour try another batch with just the 00 flour. I know that will make a light pasta.

*reads article*...ah. I think I see the problem. Semolina flour can be purchased in a couple of grades. A course grain that's more cornmeal like and a fine grain that's more flour like. I bet you have the chunky version---that's great for Polenta. There's another grade that's finer for pasta.

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cv
added 9 months ago

First of all, you *want* to develop a gluten network. If you are kneading with your hands, you should be doing it rather vigorously for 10-15 minutes: it's a workout. After letting it rest, you will be stretching it more anyhow as you roll it out.

The thickness of your dough (1/8 inch is too thick) is definitely a culprit and possibly the type of semolina that you used per Sam1148.

I suggest you try the recipe again using just all-purpose flour or possibly 50% AP and 50% Italian '00'. Your profile says you live in DC, so obtaining Italian '00' from a nearby market should not be a tremendous challenge.

Forget the semolina for now. Using just all-purpose, Italian '00' or combination of the two should ensure a soft pasta provided you roll it out thin enough.

Good luck.

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added 9 months ago

I always make pasta with only semolina flour as I like it "al dente", but as I buy it in Italy I know that it is THE SEMOLINA for pasta and not polenta. The thickness could also be 1 reason.

How hard was the dough when you were mixing it?

I also use the rule of thumb of 1 egg per 100 gr of flour, but I found eggs to be tricky as there are large and small eggs and it can make a big difference. For example when I make choux I never use number # of eggs but gr. of eggs.

Once I add my 1 egg per 100gr of semolina, I always check the dough for consistency and if it is too hard I add 1 tbsp of water until the consistency is right.

That is why the recipe specify " Quanto Basta".

Also I add 1 tbsp of olive oil the the mix of 500 gr of flour. It is also recommended in the recipes you find on the semolina flour package you buy in Italy. I believe it add elasticity.

The pasta should be elastic but it should not stick to your hands.

This is a trick I use to check when the pasta has the right consistency and elasticity: I pass it through the rolls several times folding it (I use the machine). When the dough makes bubbles that pop, it is ready to be cut into pasta shape.

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added 9 months ago

1. I agree with the suggestion that you start by making a few batches using flour only. And even though I've sought out and used 00 flour a number of times, I get great results with generic all purpose flour. For 400 grams of flour I would use 3 eggs plus one yolk and 2 T of olive oil (per Lydia Bastianich...)
2. To truly grok pasta-making, lose the gadgets. My biggest (and only) disaster making pasta was when I over processed a batch of dough in a food processor, then tried to roll out without resting. Mix with a fork and/or hands. Knead your dough lightly. It should be moist but not sticky. Place the dough in a plastic bag on a counter and walk away for 30 minutes to several hours. Read a book. Weed the garden. The dough will wait for you. It's not going anywhere.
3. After resting, moisture should have evenly distributed itself. It's better if the dough seems a bit moist (even a bit sticky is OK) at this point than if it feels dry and unyielding or difficult to roll. I usually divide this much dough into 6 balls and start rolling, adding flour gradually through rolling folding and rolling until the surface of the dough feels smooth and silky (not unlike a baby's bottom?). I find pasta dough to be exceedingly forgiving, especially if you start out with dough on the moist side. Finish rolling to your desired thickness and cut. Thinner is better as dough will swell a bit on cooking. I dust the cut noodles generously with flour so they don't stick to each other while I work with the remaining dough. The excess flour will just add to the slurry of the cooking water.
4. In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, "Don't panic!". Seriously don't try to rush (can be avoided by not trying to finish your dough while hungry guests observe...).

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added 9 months ago

I agree strongly with the need to rest the dough- I usually make it in the morning to roll in the afternoon. If it's acting up, it can also help to rest during the rolling process.

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ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 9 months ago

I'm guessing you overkneaded the dough. That's a common cause of tough pasta. However, the semolina flour (which I never use in homemade pasta) and the thickness of your sheets probably didn't help the tenderness factor any. I suggest trying again using only unbleached ap flour.

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added 9 months ago

I think the problem with overkneading is more that you keep adding flour, ending up with a dry dough, than that you might raise too much gluten

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added 9 months ago

That could also account for why the pasta ended up so thick- too dry pasta is near impossible to roll, especially by hand.