Dreaming about pasta

Sometimes you really want something and because you want it so much it makes its way in to your dreams via your subconscious. Well that’s what pasta has been doing to me. I dream about eating a big bowl of it, and then realising my husband is sat opposite me at the table looking hungrily at my dinner and pushing some steamed veg around his plate. Obviously this would never happen (he’d more likely have half a cow on his plate) but still, it made me feel guilty enough that I really needed to get my head around the whole GF pasta thing.

So most of the GF pasta you can buy in the shops is made from maize and corn. So it’s sort of springy and very bright coloured and well it’s OK but if you are not wild about the maize taste then you will hate it. I tried some dried and also the fresh chilled stuff with a very basic light sauce and it was fine but not the “you really couldn’t tell” feeling I was after. So decision made I had to make my own. There are lots of recipes out there and they are basically all using the same rough mix of different flours, which in actual fact is pretty similar to the bog standard Doves GF plain flour. So I thought I would give the bog standard a go and take it from there. One thing I did pick up on from all my reading was that GF pasta needs to use more eggs, so like an enriched pasta dough, and it also needs to be sticky before you start to roll it out. It’s easier to dust the dough with more flour to get to the right consistency than to try and make it wetter. So with my trusty KitchenAid at my side, off we go!

Basic GF pasta dough recipe
Ingredients
420g gluten-free plain flour (Doves Farm), plus more by the tablespoon
1½ tsp xanthan gum
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks (beaten), at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
200ml water, at room temperature, plus more if necessary.

Method
In the mixer bowl, place the flour and xanthan gum, and whizz to combine. Lift up the beater attachment and create a well in the center of the flour, then add the eggs and oil. Start the mixer off again on a low setting to combine. Gradually add in the wager, and mix until the dough begins to come together. The dough should be wet and sticky. If it isn’t, add more water by the tablespoon, and mix. It is key that you start off with a sticky dough.

Remove the mixer bowl and gather the dough together with your hand and add a tablespoon of flour on top of the wet dough. Knead the flour into the dough until you can handle a ball of dough without getting too sticky.

Cut off about 150g of dough (about the size of a clementine?). Dust the dough with flour, and roll it into an approximation of a rectangle but a bit thinner on the edges. Dust both sides with flour.

Now it’s time to use your pasta machine. With the dial on the pasta machine to “0,” or the lowest setting (on KitchenAid it’s “1”), pass the dough through the machine. When the dough comes out of the machine, dust it again lightly with flour and keep passing through the machine until you get a nice silky dough. If it is too sticky, it will probably fray on the edges. If it does look ragged on the edges just fold it in half short end to short end, dust lightly with flour, and keep running through. This is the only tricky bit as until you do it you won’t know that roll which is the right one when the dough is just the right stickiness, trial and error!

When the dough is ready then you can start to roll it thinner. I only went down to size 3 as this was my first attempt. The one thing I did notice that was different was the dough needs more support going through the machine than a normal flour dough. So that means that the long lengths of pasta I was making previously don’t hold together that well. Maybe a different blend of flours will make easier.

From my lengths of rolled dough I made lasagne sheets (very strange sizes!) and also some lengths of tagliatelle which I rolled into little nests and dried over night on a baking rack covered with a tea towel. These are now stored in an airtight jar so will try them in a few days and see how they hold up!

With my lasagne sheets I made up a beef lasagne and hand on my heart you could not tell the difference EXCEPT that after a whopping big slice of it I didn’t feel like I was going to slip in to a pasta coma! It was light and delicious! For ragu and cheese sauce recipes please see weekly menu 46: http://wp.me/p2HV1O-fN

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