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I can't even count the number of times that I have followed recipes for pasta using a food processor, only to discover that no matter the care I took with the measurements, my dough was just a bit too dry (add water). Now it's too wet, (add flour). Aargghh, I could have traveled to Italy by now! I'd like to use my food processor, but this is starting to make me nuts.

Can anyone help?

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2 Answers 2

I have found that one egg per one hundred grams of flour works very well. However, the process is important. Here is what I do:

  1. Combine the ingredients as you would, either by hand in a bowl, or in a food processor
  2. Knead the dough thoroughly until it comes together - NOTE: At this point, it is usually a bit on the dry side
  3. Wrap tightly in clingfilm, and put in the fridge for ~30 minutes
  4. Remove from the fridge, and knead again, then fold and run through a pasta machine, folding and running through repeatedly, until the dough starts to become silky
  5. Process the dough on consecutively narrower settings on the pasta machine

I always dust the dough with flour before running it through the machine, and then again as needed, depending on whether it starts sticking to itself, the machine, or the work surface.

As for the "foolproof" part of your question: foolproof is, in my opinion, a product of confidence. Build confidence by practicing, often and repeatedly. After a while, you will likely find that you stop measuring, adding ingredients by feel and instinct, rather than measure.

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You're quick. How did you do that so fast? I had my answer on my clipboard, I only had to mess with the hyperlinks! –  Jolenealaska Sep 18 '13 at 8:04
    
Thanks, Jolene. I work in the computer industry, and type at least three thousand words each day, more if I'm working on a big case, so typing quickly comes easily to me. As for the process; I worked on it for ages myself, and know the recipe by touch now... –  razumny Sep 18 '13 at 8:29
    
I was getting to the "touch" point, but I got all left-brained one day. How long do you think I need to wait to hear from the Nobel Prize committee? I don't want to leave my phone. –  Jolenealaska Sep 18 '13 at 8:52
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I find that dusting the dough with ordinary flour can have the negative side effect of the final pasta becoming soggy when cooked. The problem is that the final pasta will be coated with a thin layer of flour which mixes with the cooking water. The easiest way to get around this is to use semolina flour for the dusting - semolina flour has a different more grainy consistency, and can be more easily shaken off, and doesn't stay on the pasta during cooking. Only when I started using semolina did pasta start working! –  James Fennell Sep 19 '13 at 21:25

Wow, the quality of your questions is eclipsed only by your humor and beauty.

I just might be able to help.

The key is using a high quality digital scale. Sure, there are perfectly good chefs out there that dump flour onto a previously clean work surface, do voodoo with their fingers to achieve the same result, but who’s got time for that? Who wants to play those games?

Here's my absolutely never fail method. I spent months playing around with homemade pasta before I eventually settled on this super-easy, foolproof method. It's a lot of fun and I don’t think that the messy voodoo method will ever achieve better results.

Step one. Tare your scale with a liquid measuring cup. I just use a measuring cup 'cause it's easy to pour. Crack in your eggs, figure about 1 egg per serving. 3-6 eggs is a nice easy to handle amount. Write down the weight of the eggs in grams (absolute precision is what makes this method work so well). After noting the weight of the eggs, add about 1 tsp olive oil per egg.

Take your noted weight and multiply by 1.5. That is EXACTLY how much flour to use. I like 00 flour the best (more on that in a bit), but all-purpose flour is fine. Put the food processor bowl, blade and all, on the scale, then tare and add to the bowl EXACTLY 1.5 times the weight of the eggs. Salt is optional. Some chefs insist on it, others say to NEVER add salt. I do. After achieving the perfect amount of flour I add about a teaspoon of salt per 3 eggs. Now just process the flour while slowly adding the eggs. About 10 seconds is all it takes. You now have perfect pasta dough.

Knead. Use as little flour as possible to keep it from sticking. When you need a rest from kneading, your dough does too. Roll it in a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let it sit on the counter for an hour (30 minutes may be adequate, though I always want the longer break) or up to 2 days in the fridge. If you refrigerate it, let it come to room temperature before the second kneading. After you and the dough have had a rest, knead it again, try to keep it up for 5 minutes. Now you are ready to shape the pasta.

Do you have a pasta rolling machine? I couldn't find one anywhere in the state of Alaska except in a little Italian shop in Wasilla (yes, home of Sarah Palin). Oh well, I was due for a drive anyway. Strangely, it was made in China. Anyway, the price was right and I have been very happy with it. Here it is: the Norpro 1049R Pasta Machine aka "the little red machine". This video does a very good job demonstrating how to use the machine (though the host needs to clamp it tighter -- that wobbling would drive me nuts). Also, the cutting mechanism on my pasta machine is useless; I just roll the sheet and use a knife to cut fettuccine, or I make ravioli or lasagna. No machine? No worries, you really don’t need one. Your pasta may be a bit on the thick side, but that only shouts ‘homemade’! Just roll it out using a rolling pin or a dowel.

The BEST most impressive thing I've made lately is this: a bit of Mario Batali magic, ravioli with an egg yolk hidden inside. It's unbelievably easy to make. One thing that I do a bit differently is pipe some of the ricotta filling on top of the yolk too, to completely encapsulate it.

About the flour: It may be hard to find 00 flour, but it does make better pasta. It's an Italian product, finely milled flour produced especially for pasta or pizza dough.

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+1 for the first sentence alone, and the undoubted truth contained therein. But really, that's a very thorough answer. Thank you for sharing it with us all. –  David Wallace Sep 19 '13 at 8:54
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I have to try this 1.5 flour ratio! I always have trouble to adjust the pasta adding flour or water because eggs are not equals. Thanks for sharing this, I'm taking note of this tip right now on my cooking book! –  Johnny Nov 17 at 14:23

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