Pasta & Ratios, What A Difference Ingredients Make

I bought a pasta roller to compliment my KitchenAid and finally had an opportunity to use it. I keep the machine in New York while I have my KitchenAid and attachments in Somerville. As much as I would like to travel back and forth with my mixer, it’s not a practical option of course. I haven’t made pasta since taking classes at Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Somerville about 9 months ago, and as a result I pretty much forgot what to do. I didn’t have my class recipes on hand and turned to Ratio for some guidance. Having documented successful attempts before (Cooking Through Ratio: Doughs and Batters – Pasta , Cooking Through Ratio: Doughs and Batters – More Pasta) I was confident in the ratio and experimentation based on what I learned during a class at Dave’s.

Just before heading to the gym last night, I decided that I could make some pasta dough and have it rest in the fridge while I completed my workout knowing that when I got back I would be tired and hungry and wouldn’t want to wait for the dough to rest in that state. Cooking for myself, I decided to cut the recipe down by a third. I love pasta, but didn’t want to be a glutton. What could go wrong using a ratio? I would soon find out.

I replaced half of the measured all purpose flour with Semolina. We used a combination of Semolina and Durum at Dave’s, roughly a 50/50 mixture is what I remembered. I really enjoyed the texture and taste of that pasta, some of the best I’ve ever had, and was hoping I would come close despite the use of all purpose flour. This wasn’t to be.

Ratio Pasta with Semolina - Flour

As I made the dough, I could sense that the texture was naturally different. This wasn’t a surprise given the use of a different mixture of flour, but I realized that I had forgotten what it was supposed to feel like or wondered if I could know what it should feel like given a combination I had never used before. While kneading I used the all purpose flour on the counter and soaked up quite a bit.

Ratio Pasta with Semolina - Kneaded Dough

When the visible air pockets were gone, I wrapped the dough in plastic and put it in the fridge, heading out for my run.

Ratio Pasta with Semolina - Rested Dough

When I got back, I broke out the machine, and took the dough out of the fridge. It looked and felt different, not quite smooth and springy, but I had yet to reach the moment of truth.

Ratio Pasta with Semolina - Rested Dough

I cut the dough into portions that I could easily feed through the rollers and started rolling. Disaster struck. The dough did not hold together. It was rough, filled with holes as it spread out and generally fell apart. No matter what I tried, adding more all purpose flour, adding more oil, kneading, it simply did not work out for me.

Plan B was a box of pasta in the cupboard and some leftover sauce I made with cherry tomatoes from the farmers’ market in Union Square. The sauce was definitely a highlight. The tomatoes were amazing.

Ratio Pasta with Semolina - Boxed Penne Pasta

Not all of life is success and learning often comes from failure. I’m confident I can nail the pasta with some changes to the ingredients and ratio of them. It’s obvious that not all flours are created equal or will behave the same way. At least I have a baseline to work with having tried this time.


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