When it came time to decide on my wife, Lisa's birthday present this spring, we thought we'd get her into the fresh pasta-making action, too. The KitchenAid Pasta Extruder attachment was a natural for our kitchen and for creating a new Extruded Pasta Team--Lucas and Lisa.
4 large eggs
3-1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
- Break the eggs into a measuring cup. If they measure less than 7/8 of a cup, add water until 7/8 cups is reached.
- Place the flour and salt into a stand mixer bowl. Using a flat beater blade, turn speed to 2 and add eggs little by little along with 1 tablespoon water. Mix for 30 seconds.
- Change to a dough hook, and again on speed 2, mix for 2 minutes.
- Remove mixture and place onto a floured work surface--the dough may appear crumbly at first. Knead by hand for 1 minute until the dough is smooth, pliable and holds together in a ball.
- Install Pasta Extruder attachment onto the mixer stand. Install the desired shape disc as per the manual. (We used the "Rigatoni" disc).
- Form walnut size balls of dough, a few at a time, and place them into the hopper of the attachment, setting the speed on 4-6.
I stepped back and let this be a Lucas and Mom project, but then Lisa called me in when she noticed the dough was very tough and nearly impossible to knead into a "smooth, pliable" dough ball. Now as I said, Lucas and I have made fresh pasta before... but extruding is a bit different. In general, the dough has to be a stiffer mix to hold up to extrusion. If it's too soft it will make a sticky mess when put through the extruder.
My first reaction to the dough when I saw it was to toss it and start from scratch with a new recipe. It was really tough. I rolled it up in plastic wrap and put it aside and went online to find a typical recipe for extruding pasta.
By the time I came back, Lisa said she took another look and her dough was a bit softer. In fact, it had relaxed a bit, so I kneaded it a bit--a real muscle job--and Lisa started to cut the walnut sized balls.
Putting the shape disk on was easy. The machine fired up and Lisa dropped a a bunch of balls into the hopper to top it off. Slowly, pasta began to extrude... very slowly at first. Our mixer didn't bog down, even with the heavy dough. Then it stopped.
Apparently, you need to feed one or two balls of dough at a time and the auger at the bottom of the extruder presses the dough against the shape disc. Lisa put too much into the auger and there was a gap. We pulled out the dough, then started adding balls no more than two at a time. Past was being made... a pretty acceptable rigatoni shape!
Then Lucas took over the cutting... waiting until the rigatoni was about 1-1/2" long, then slicing them off quickly with the piano wire guillotine underneath the disc. He then laid them out to dry on a clean, cotton kitchen towel. They dried for about 2 hours before cooking, draining and saucing. Lucas loved his job and made over a pound of rigatoni for that night's dinner. Great job, Little Chef! (His nickname in the kitchen ever since we fell in love with the film, Ratatouille.
The next time we use the extruder, we'll adjust the recipe. The dough can't be as supple as when making fresh pasta with a pasta roller attachment, but it can be less dense than what we made with the KitchenAid recipe. I told Lisa that she should also use semolina pasta flour instead of all-purpose. I think this was part of the problem. Even a mix of all-purpose and semolina would work better. And my tip to Lisa was this: Don't rely on a written recipe alone when judging any dough. You have to use your eyes and feel the dough as it's being made. Whether the humidity is high or not giverns whether to hold back liquids or add more. I would make this dough with less eggs too. Many recipes for extruded pasta that is going to be dried do not contain any eggs at all (danger of contamination)--just water.
As for the pasta they made, we all agreed it was a bit bland and a tad... well, doughy. As I'd expect from all-purpose flour. Perhaps it could have used more salt in the dough. The semolina would make it taste a bit more nutty, too.
So, we'll report the next time Lucas and Lisa make extruded pasta and let you know how it went.
Ciao and buon appetito!
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