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Making Dough

For optimum use of your pasta maker, your dough needs to be of just the right consistency. It needs to have just the right firmness, not too moist and not too dry. Experience, skill and practice are important factors here. Your instruction book (or recipe books) should have more specific details than those described here, but the following principles apply when making your pasta dough.

In summary, you knead and blend your mixture of flour (durum wheat preferably) and eggs until it has just the right consistency and firmness to suit your pasta maker. If it is too moist, you can add a bit more flour. If it's too dry, add a dash of water.

making pasta doughThe dough needs to be moist enough so the cutting rollers can "grab" it to perform efficiently and effectively. The dough also needs to be dry enough so the cutting rollers don't stick and work properly. If it does stick, you can dust very lightly with fine flour.

But with some trial and error, you'll soon master this skill. And your family and guests will be so impressed with the final culinary result!

To actually make the dough, you can adapt the basic guide below, or consult your instruction and recipe books.

Basic dough making guide

This basic recipe is based on 3-4 cups of flour and 4 large eggs, and will serve up to 4 people. You can also add a dash of salt.

Note: Semolina, a high protein flour derived from durum wheat, is great for pasta.

Spread the flour into a donut shape on a bench top or large cutting board. This is to make a well shape. Break the eggs into the middle of the well and beat them with a fork. At the same time, start gradually adding a little bit of the flour from the inner rim of the flour circle. Keep rebuilding the circular flour shape to contain the more liquid egg mixture at the center as necessary to prevent spillage. Once you have used about half the flour, the dough should have enough consistency to stop spreading out.

Once the dough has a certain firmness, it's time to start kneading the dough with your hands. You can add a little water or flour if needed if the dough seems too hard or too soft. By now, the dough should be taking shape and starting to get the right consistency. Remove any bits that may have dried too much, dust your board with a little flour and knead for around 6-10 minutes.

Kneading is an energetic process where you push and crush and shape and stretch and fold and squash the dough. Push down on the center of the dough with the heel of your hands, then push the sides up and back in on itself. You need to keep repeating this process, and you need to apply a lot of strength here! You can also lightly dust the surface with flour from time to time if it seems to be sticky. You will soon notice the dough has a beautiful uniform consistency, and a lovely smooth feel to it.

If kneading is a little difficult, it is also possible to make your dough in a separate food processor, a stand mixer with a dough hook or a separate stand alone dough mixer. Consult your instruction books for any such appliances you might have for advice on this option.

Divide the finished dough into equal sized lumps, about the size of your palm, to suit the size of your pasta maker. For most pasta makers, the number of eggs used in the original mixture will be about the same as the number of lumps of dough of the right size for your machine. And it's also about the same number as the number of guests at your meal! So a 4 egg pasta mix will serve around 4 people, and on the average pasta machine, will require about 4 lumps of dough. But this is just a rough guide for the average sized machine.

After kneading, wrap the dough in plastic wrap for around 30 minutes or so to give it a "rest", keeping it cool. Then, at last, it is ready for your pasta maker. Your pasta maker then gives the dough its final kneading and refinement.

See "Using Pasta Makers" for info about the next step.



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