The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Experiments in Pasta: Milling My Own Flour

loydb's picture
loydb

Experiments in Pasta: Milling My Own Flour

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).

Comments

naschol's picture
naschol

Cool!  I have always wanted to try this, but have never gotten around to it.  Maybe this is just the push I need!

 

Nancy

loydb's picture
loydb

I grilled a couple of chicken breasts, then dumped the leftover spaghetti on top in the pan and reheated with a little beef stock. Even better on day two. I'll try some fettucini this weekend I think!

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I'd like to invite myself to dinner, please.  That's a wonderful pot of past you have there.

Paul

loydb's picture
loydb

... drop me a PM :)

 

Crider's picture
Crider

Looks delicious. I'm doing whole wheat pasta of my own. I had gotten a large quantity of emmer wheat and after a while, didn't really know what to do with the stuff (not enough gluten for loaves), but then emmer is the same thing as farro and there's some very expensive farro pasta out there, so why not give it a try?

I haven't made any egg noodles with it yet, and I should, but I've done a lot of dried pasta with just water. It's delicious! When I was figuring out a formula, I started out with 60% hydration. Next time down to 55%, then 52% and settled on a round 50% hydration. The dough is extremely stiff. I let it soak for eight hours or so and it really changes for the better as to pliability and yet it doesn't stick to anything. Maybe it doesn't need a whole eight hours.

I guess to make up a formula for egg fresh pasta, weighing the eggs would be first, then to adjust the amount of flour to match the eggs. 60% egg hydration? Who knows!

I've gotten that 50% water-based dough to go through the finest setting on the rollers as an experiment and maybe that could be used as fresh phyllo dough?

Have fun.

bearcanrun's picture
bearcanrun

Hi Crider — was wondering if you tried making your own farro/emmer pasta yet and if you've had any difficulties/tips from the experience. Also, have you tried drying it? 

Crider's picture
Crider

I've settled on 52% hydration for the dough. When I mill my emmer, I sift through a #50 screen and re-mill the coarser stuff, and sift that through a #50 screen too. When I make egg pasta, I measure the eggs first. Eggs contain 74% water. Works nice, great flavor.

bearcanrun's picture
bearcanrun

Wonderful. Thank you for the information — I'll try it out. Just got my grain mill today.

hubert cumberdale's picture
hubert cumberdale

i make fresh pasta at least 4 times a week if not more. here are a few tips ive found to help give a better overall product with less hassle.

i use 100% whole wheat flour i mill myself. it helps to have a mill that mills the flour very fine. but sometimes i prefer the slightly chunky flour for pasta.

your dough sounded too wet initially, you shouldnt have to add flour when kneading. youll get the hang of the proper moisture level though, my first batch of pasta was more like bread dough and ended up too nasty to eat.

letting your dough sit and rest relaxes it and makes it easier to roll/work with

knead it more, if you have to add flour while rolling it out and the surface is not satin smooth, you need to knead more and rest longer.

for spaghetti and such type pastas, i let my dough rest at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. sometimes more. the longer it sits ( covered of course) the easier it will roll with less hassle.

i suggest learning how to to it by feel rather than a recipe, not all flour will have the same moisture content, not all eggs are the same size. this way you can make pasta just about anywhere you have flour, water, egg, and a flat counter or board.

even still im glad you liked it, homemade pasta is so much better than any store dried pasta

grind's picture
grind

I was worried that the grainy bits would keep the pasta from forming and that it would not hold up in the boiling pot; glad to know my suspicions are incorrect.  Cheers.

Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Yumm!!! 

All you need now is some good bread and a fine wine.

Love making my own pasta but have never had luck using the cutters... now I just hand cut.  Interesting to go with fresh milled flour, thats cool.

Now you have me thinking of  some parsnip ravioli.

Nice job