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I've made fresh egg-based pasta quite a few times already. Usually used Marcella Hazan's recipe.

Now I've wanted to make orecchiette, which is made without egg (i.e. just flour+water(+salt)).

I thought the dough I've made turned out alright. Kneaded for >5 minutes. When I "rolled it out" to those thin sausages you need to make orecchiette, the dough always retraced/stretched back a lot. Trying to form orecchiette was unsuccessful.

I tried to remedy it by adding more flour and kneading more. The dough retracted less, but forming the orecchiette (knife + thumb) wasn't successful either, the dough always seemed too soft and didn't hold its shape.

Maybe it didn't work out because the dough was a bit too wet in the beginning and I started to adjust too late after too much kneading.

Before I give it another try, I'd just like to know whether any of you have made it, whether you've had similar problems, and whether it's easily doable. Some of the vids on youtube from Italian nonnas make it look way too easy.

PS: I was using regular 00 flour.

  • Usually used Marcella Hazan's recipe Don't make us have to search for it - add a link. – Jan Doggen Jan 9 '18 at 8:24
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    @JanDoggen Links are indeed nice, but to be fair, that's not the recipe for the orecchiette the question's actually asking about. – Cascabel Jan 9 '18 at 18:03
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Orecchiette is frequently made with two parts semolina flour to one part AP flour, and one part water. You can find multiple recipes online. So, I would begin your troubleshooting with a recipe that uses semolina. Then, be sure to allow your dough to rest after kneading, at least 30 minutes. This allows the flour to hydrate fully and the dough to relax. I find resting more important than kneading. It really doesn't take more than a few minutes of kneading...but you probably can't over knead. From there, as long as you have the proper hydration, shaping should not be difficult.

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Try using Durum Semolina and a high gluten flour, mixing them 1 to 1. Add water gradually to the mixture, enough to bring it together and then add a little more to make it pliable but not flabby. It takes practice to get it right, but the consistency should be should be just this side of too pliable. Knead the dough until it is silky smooth, no more. Form a dough ball, coat in olive oil, wrap in plastic, let rest in the refrigerator for a half hour or so. That should do it for you. If however, you have access to a stand mixer, the process is much easier. You'll still have to knead it a little bit, but the mixing process is obviously shortened considerably. In such a case, add water while mixing a little at a time. You'll know when the dough is ready for kneading when after shutting off the machine you are able to squeeze the mixture together without it falling apart. Then knead and follow the same steps as above. Watch this guy's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODlxGrtkO5Q. Though he's not making Orecchiette, the process is the same.

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