Cooking from Scratch is now on facebook! Click here to check it out!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Whole Wheat Pasta

There's just something about homemade pasta. In particular, there's really something special about homemade whole wheat pasta. In my opinion, most store bought whole wheat pasta just isn't worth a darn. Now, I won't lie to you... making pasta is definitely more labor intensive than opening a box, but I'd say it's worth it - at least some of the time. What does that mean? It means that depending on what I've got going on, either I will open a box or I will prepare a batch of noodles from scratch. The nice thing, is that you can make extra when you do make homemade noodles and freeze or dry them for future convenience.

Making whole wheat pasta surprisingly provides you with a plethora of options. Not only can you decide how much whole wheat flour you want to use... go with 100% or 25%, whatever you fancy, but you can decide which type of whole wheat flour to use. Five years ago, when I first came across white whole wheat flour, it was a bit tricky to find. Now days, however, it seems to be everywhere. White whole wheat is only different from your typical whole wheat in the type of wheat berry that is ground up. Your regular wheat flour is usually a hard red wheat. White whole wheat is hard white wheat, which is lighter in color and more delicate in taste. In the picture below, you can see the differences (from left to right) between white whole wheat, regular whole wheat, and all purpose flours. I chose to use white whole wheat for this pasta because it would have a softer, milder flavor that I think is better in a pasta. After all, for the most part, pasta is a vehicle for other flavors; it shouldn't overpower them.

I strongly advise using a stand mixer to make this pasta. While you can mix the dough by hand and roll it through a hand-crank pasta mill... phew! I've done it. it's hard work! The KitchenAid will do most of the heavy lifting for you. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl of the mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Turn the mixer to speed 2 and process until the mixture is completely wetted. Notice that it will never completely come together on its own, but will continue to look like crumbles. Once it is completely mixed, continue processing for another 2 minutes.

Because ambient humidity can lead to significant differences in the moisture of the dough, you will need to test the moisture level of the dough. To do this, turn the mixer off and grab a small handful. Squeeze it together. If it forms a cohesive mass, then you are good to go. If it falls back apart, crumble the handful back into the mixer bowl and add another tablespoon of water. Mix for 1-2 minutes before testing again. Continue until the moisture level is right.

Grab handfuls of crumbles and press them together to form balls. Shoot for 8-9 balls. Place them in a plastic bag to keep them from drying out. Let them rest for 20-30 minutes. You will be amazed what that short amount of time will do to the texture of this dough. When you first shape them, the dough will be fairly rigid and slightly crumbly. Afterwards, it will be more tender and malleable. It's still a stiff dough, but you will definitely be able to tell the difference.

After the dough has rested, pull one dough ball out at a time. Press the ball flat on the counter.

Feed the dough through the flat roller fitted to your stand mixer. Start with the widest setting. The first couple of feeds, all on setting one, are a continuation of the kneading process, so don't skip them. I run it through the first time just as the flattened disk. Then I fold the result over and feed it folded seam first back through the roller, still on setting one.

After doing that a few times, the shape is often a bit funky, so I fold it up like a tri-fold brochure.

I then feed the tri-fold brochure through the roller open end first. This leaves you with a nicely shaped piece of dough. It takes a little practice to get it perfect, but remember, even if it doesn't look perfect, it will still taste good!

Now you can start reducing the width of the rollers. Once I get off setting one, I only roll it once each through the remaining settings. In this case, I went up to setting seven; I wanted my pasta fairly thin.

The dough gets really dang long, so I cut it into manageable lengths with a pizza cutter. In this case, I cut them into 6-8 inch lengths. The dough is dry enough that it can be stacked without the layers sticking together.

The next step is to cut the pasta. I made fettuccine. I placed a large bowl underneath the cutter to catch the pieces. What is that in the bottom of the bowl, you might ask? Semolina flour, which is a coarsely ground flour works really well to keep pasta from sticking together. What is great about using the semolina in this function, is that it falls off the dough when you cook the pasta. If you use all purpose of whole wheat flour to keep the dough from sticking, it gets goopy and sticky when the pasta cooks and makes a bit of a mess of it.

Periodically, toss the pasta around to get it well coated so that it doesn't stick together.

Lay it out on sheet pans while you cut the rest of the pasta. You now have a couple of options: you can cook the pasta immediately, you can let the pasta sit on the counter until you are ready to cook the pasta, you can spread the pasta out a single layer thick for a few days until it is brittle dry, or you can gently place it into bags and freeze it.

If prepared fresh, this pasta takes almost no time to cook... 2-3 minutes at most, so be prepared!

Whole Wheat Pasta
Yield: 1 - 1 1/2 pounds of dough

3 1/2 cups flour (for proper hydration, use at least 50% whole wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
water
semolina flour, for dusting

In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour and salt. In a liquid cup measure, break four whole eggs. Gently beat and then add enough water to make one cup of liquid. Add the liquid to the flour mixture. Process on speed 2 until it is completely wetted. Check for proper hydration by taking a small handful of the mixture and squeezing it into a ball. If the ball falls apart, add another tablespoon of water and process again. Continue in this manner until the dough forms a nice clump, then mix another 2 minutes. Press the crumbles into 8-9 balls of dough. Place in a plastic bag to rest for 20-30 minutes. The dough is then ready to be processed in a pasta mill. For details of this processes, see the above post.

3 comments:

  1. can I do that without the cutting device? it looks very professionally done, but God, delicious...

    yum!,
    inventory reports London

    ReplyDelete
  2. I used to use white whole wheat for my pasta and I loved it. Would have loved to have your tips then. Glad to have them now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi. Really enjoying your site!
    Could you please tell how much pasta this recipe yields?

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...