The Fresh Loaf

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loydb's picture
loydb

I used to have a problem with my crackers, but then I took an arrow to the knee...

For the last month or so, I've been turning all my extra sourdough starter into crackers. With a couple of exceptions, they've been disappointing: not crisp enough, too crisp and burnt, no flavor, too much salt, etc. etc. That all changed a couple of days ago, mostly by accident. I've since successfuly reproduced the recipe three times, and may have it down now.

When I play Skyrim, I play it *loud*. What's the point of hurling your enemies off of a mountaintop with the power of your Shout if it doesn't make the pictures on the wall shake? As a result, I didn't hear the kitchen timer, and only remembered I had crackers in the oven when the smell of "Hey, that smells like something baking" penetrated my dragon-killing frenzy. Instead of the 15 minutes I'd intended to cook them, I ended up cooking them 40 minutes. Fortunately, I'd been experimenting with the pasta machine, and had both made them thicker than normal, and set the oven cooler than normal (350 degrees F instead of the 375 I'd been using). They were perfect.

So I set out to make them again, this time intentionally.

Start with a cup of leftover starter at 100% hydration. Add 1/4 cup oil (I use walnut oil), a tablespoon of softened butter, a teaspoon of salt, and roughly 5 oz of whole wheat flour. You're shooting for fairly stiff. Spray it with olive oil and let it set under plastic for anywhere from 3-6 hours.

Roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick, then sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt, and a pinch of whatever dried herb takes your fancy (I used dill in one batch, thyme in another). Then fold the dough over on itself and roll out again.

Add the seeds of your choice on half of the dough. I used black seasame seeds and brown mustard seed. Fold over again and roll out.

 Chop into smaller pieces, and run it through a pasta machine on the widest setting (#0 on my Atlas). Fold again.

Run these through on #0 again, then on #1, then finish on #2.

Put them on parchment paper, spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and more seeds. Gently roll them again with a pin to seat the seeds, then dock many, many times with a fork.

Cook for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees F. Then turn the oven off, crack the door, and let them sit for another 10-15 minutes, watching to make sure they don't overbrown. The picture shows them at the end of 30 minutes. The final color can be seen on the plate, above.

Move to a cooling rack and let sit (the ones on the rack below are the ones from the original Skyrim batch. The ones on the plate at top are from a subsequent test batch.) Break into smaller pieces as desired.

 

loydb's picture
loydb

Here goes another pasta experiment. This time, I went with 100% durum wheat (other than a little KA that I used to flour the board and the pasta as it went through the machine). To make the dough, I combined 3 egg yolks (yolks only, trying for a very yellow noodle), the zest of 6 lemons, 1T each dill and basil, and 1.5t kosher salt in a blender, then mixed it into two cups of fresh-ground durum wheat (no sifting, 100% WW).

The dough sat for around four hours, then half was cut into fettucini. The other half is sitting in my fridge, and will be used tomorrow probably...

For the final dish, roast 2/3 cup of pine nuts and reserve. The chicken breasts had been coated in olive oil and kosher salt that morning, then stuck in the fridge in a plastic bag that I flipped every couple of hours during the day.  Rough chop 2 small onions, 8 oz mushrooms, and 5 cloves of garlic. I browned the chicken in a mix of butter and olive oil, then dumped the onion mixture on top and hit with some kosher salt. After most of the water cooked out of the veg mix, I added chicken stock to a 1/4" depth in the pan, put in a bunch of lemon slices, covered and simmered for 15-20 minutes. The pasta cooked for 4 minutes. I added a few tablespoons of half and half to the pan, combined for a minute, then added the noodles and cooked for another 90 seconds or so. Yum. The noodles weren't quite the bright yellow I was hoping for, maybe I'll add a few drops of food coloring next time :)

 

 

loydb's picture
loydb

Last night was my second attempt at homemade pasta using home-milled flour. While my first attempt (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25340/experiments-pasta-milling-my-own-flour) was delicious, I tried a few new things based on comments there and reading elsewhere.

 I started out milling a 50/50 mix of durum wheat (14%) and hard white wheat (13%). After milling, I used a #30 mining pan (yes, as in 'gold mining.' It fits perfectly on 5 gallon buckets and large containers like the one shown) to sift out some of the bran, ending up with 85% extraction by weight. I ended up with a little more than 2 cups of flour.

Next, I medium-chopped three cloves of garlic and sauted them in a tablespoon of butter for 5 minutes or so, then added 6 oz of fresh spinach, sprinkled lightly with kosher salt, and cooked 3-4 minutes, until nicely wilted. Moved to a seive and let drain and cool a bit for 20 minutes.

After draining, I put the spinach/garlic mix into a blender, added two room-temperature eggs, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil (remember there's butter and salt from the spinach). Blended up, and poured into a well with the flour.

I worked this in with a fork until it became too much to stir. After ending up with an excessively wet dough last time, I was determined to sneak up on the proper hydration this time. I dumped the still-dry mixture onto my board, and began working in water by hand until it just came together.

After about 12 minutes of kneading, it came together into a nice dough that felt like Play-do. It wasn't at all sticky, nor was it noticably dry. I sprayed it with olive oil, put the lid on the container, and then went about my day. I got back to it four hours later. I put it on a lightly floured board, rolled it out to about the thickness of a pencil, and fired up the Atlas.

This time, I only had to add a tiny, tiny bit of flour to the sheets between setting 3 and 4, and they cut perfectly. They got to dry for right at an hour while I worked on everything else.

Here's the final dish. Toasted almond slivers, mushrooms, onions, garlic and green peas with shrimp. The pasta was cooked for around 4 minutes, then mixed in with everything for a couple of minutes in the pan. It had a great flavor, and was sooooo soft, almost like udon.

 

loydb's picture
loydb

I finally got a new pasta maker to replace the one I destroyed via water and overestimating my ability to remember how to reassemble it. :) This time, I went with a motor! I stuck with an Atlas 150, which was a great machine for me until I went all Mr. Fixit on it.

Previously, I'd been using store-bought flour. Last night was my first try with it using flour I milled myself, though I hedged my bets on this one with around 33% King Arthur Bread Flour. I didn't find a lot on milling pasta flour using the search, so hopefully my experiments will aid searchers somewhere down the line.

Attempt #1
I didn't think to take pics of anything but the final product, I'll do better on the next run, promise. All grains are from Pleasant Hill.

I started out with 6 oz of durum wheat (14%)  and 2 oz of hard white wheat, milled fine, mixed with 3 oz KA. By the time it was all said and done, I easily added another 1-2 oz of KA.

Put the milled flour in a bowl, make a well, crack two room-temperature eggs in it, add a couple of healthy pinches of kosher salt (1.5 t maybe?). Whisk with a fork to blend in flour from the edges. When it gets too dry, pour in a little bit of room temperature water (I ended up using just over 3/4 cup of water). Eventually it becomes too heavy to stir with a fork, switch to a spatula or spoon or whatever you use. I chose to hand knead this instead of using my DLX, so I have some sense memory of the dough development as experiments progress. 

After it comes together in the bowl, move to a heavily-floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. Mine was really, really soft and damp, and I used a lot of KA flour by the time the kneading was done. It still felt really soft, almost like focaccia. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. I let it sit 45 minutes. 

I rolled it out about 3/4" thick (using a lot more flour), cut off a chunk about the area of slice of cheese, and started running it through the Atlas. Lemme just say right now, if you're thinking of buying one of these, get one with a motor. It's so nice to be able to work solo, and it takes less than 3 seconds to move the motor from the flattening rollers to the cutter and back. I folded it back on itself a couple of times at setting 0 and setting 1, then progressed until setting 4, their recommended thickness for the spaghetti cutter.

Moved the motor to the cutter, and ran the first sheet through. It was a gummy, messy disaster. Fortunately, it was going to be discarded anyway (as per the recommendations for first-time use).

Clean up, consult the manual. If it fails to cut, add flour to the dough and run it through the rollers.

I liberally sprinkled the cutting board, cut off another square of dough, floured both sides, and ran it through at 0. Folded, floured, repeated. Move to 1, same thing. As it got thinner, I sprinkled flour on the sheet of dough and gently massaged it over the surface, then flipped and hit the other side. Finally, I sprinkled some flour directly on the cutting rollers. 

I should talk here about the texture of the dough. I didn't do any sifting, so all the bran was still in the dough, which felt kind of grainy. When at the final thickness, I could feel the bran in relief when spreading on the KA flour. This was the first thing that concerned me.

Back to the rollers -- this time, everything came through the cutter mostly intact, but the individual strands of noodles were, in some cases, still clinging to each other, looking vaguely like a computer ribbon cable. This was the second thing that concerned me.

I hung the noodles on the drying rack, and the bran in the tiny noodles made them feel almost like they'd been rolled in sand. This was the third thing that concerned me.

At this point, my wife is on the way home from work. I have a bunch of noodles that I'm pretty sure are going to be a gummy, grainy mess. Oh well, I've got dried pasta in the pantry, I can always break it out if necessary.

The noodles hang out and dry for around 45 minutes. Now, they feel like dry, sandy ribbons. I'm not optimistic.

I throw the noodles in 6 quarts of boiling salt water to which I've added 1 T of olive oil, and boiled them for 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so to keep them from clumping up, then drained them in a collander before adding them to the sauce for about 90 seconds on the stove.

Fearing the worst, I added some fresh-ground asiago and parmesan and tried some.

They were fantastic.

Nothing stuck together, and there was no grainy-ness. It was amazingly tender. 

Heartened by the success, I'm going to try using more fresh milled flour next time, perhaps only using the KA for adjustments (which would still end up being a couple of ounces if it runs to form).

turosdolci's picture
turosdolci

Making homemade pasta is easy with a few kitchen tools. The flavor surpasses anything you can buy.


Step by step instructions and recipe for garganelle along with pictures for other pasta that require rolling out the dough in sheets.


http://turosdolci.wordpress.com


 


 


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