Every chef needs a good recipe for egg noodle dough. It’s surprisingly easy to make, and extremely versatile. For example, you could roll it thin, and cut into noodles… You could roll it into sheets, and make lasagna… You could even roll it out thick, and make egg noodle dumplings. So yummy.
That’s a lot of versatility, for such a simple recipe… But, more on that later.
Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.
Chef's Note: The salt is not a traditional ingredient; however, it helps in the hydration of the flour.
Chef’s Note: When I’m making egg-noodle dumplings, or noodles for chicken soup, I like to add about a 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper. It gives the noodles just a bit of a bite that really enhances the soup.
If I were to speculate, I would say that using white pepper in pasta is more of an "American" addition to the recipe.
Types of Flour
The type of flour you use will determine the consistency of the pasta you are making. In this recipe we are using good ole’ all-purpose flour, mainly because it makes dang good pasta, and you probably have a bag or two of the stuff sitting in your pantry. My Aunt Josephine used all-purpose, and that’s good enough for me.
But let’s take a minute and reference the three types of flour you are likely to encounter in your pasta-making excursions.
1. All-Purpose: Makes good pasta that is easy to knead, and holds up in a variety of situations.
2. 00-Fine Milled: Makes pasta that is easy to work, and produces a very silky result that can be rolled out very thin without tearing.
3. Semolina: Depending on the type of pasta/sauce combination you’re making, you might add a bit of semolina to the flour base. The semolina adds a rough exterior to the pasta and helps thin sauces cling better to the noodles.
Chef’s Tip: When you are separating the egg whites from the yolks, remember to save the egg whites. If your dough is a bit dry, you will use the whites to increase the hydration levels.
Add the eggs and blend on medium speed until the flour and the eggs begin to come together, about 1 minute.
Chef's Tip: Some people will add things like milk, baking soda, etc. to their pasta. In a word: Don't.
We're trying to make a traditional light Italian pasta.
Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook, and knead on medium for an additional 2 minutes.
Where’s the Water? Well those sneaky little chickens hid the water in the egg whites. So save the additional egg whites, and if your dough appears a bit dry, add a bit more egg white (a little at a time), until the dough comes together. Adding just plain water to pasta can make the final results a bit mushy… at least to my tastes.
Where’s the Olive Oil? No olive oil… The oil will only make it harder for the flour to develop good gluten. Save the oil for dressing the pasta after cooking.
Once the dough is smooth, allow it to rest in the bowl for ten minutes.
Chef's Tip: Depending on the relative humidity, and the type of flour you are using, you will probably need to add a bit of the reserved egg whites to achieve the desired results.
After 10 minutes, remove the dough from the bowl, and place on a lightly floured surface.
Knead the dough until elastic and smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Chef’s Note: There is a lot to be said for experience when kneading dough. It needs to "feel" elastic and springy; plus it should not stick to your hands.
At the beginning of the process, it might start out a bit sticky, so you may need to add a bit more flour… but just a small amount at a time. Remember it should be smooth, elastic, springy to the touch, and not stick to your hands.
After kneading the dough, cover on the board, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
Chef’s Note: Many recipes call for a short 5-minute rest period, or no resting at all. The additional resting time allows the moisture to be fully absorbed into the flour, and will make it easier to roll out.
After the resting period, cut the dough ball into fourths, and roll out one quarter at at time.
Cut into thick or thin strips, your choice.
Place the fresh-cut noodles into “nests” and sprinkle with a bit of semolina to keep the fresh dough from sticking together.
Chef's Note: If you are cooking the pasta, go for it, no waiting required.
To cook, add a bit of salt to a large pot of boiling water, and cook until al dente, about 3 to 5 minutes.
If you are saving, it will keep in the fridge for a day or two, but you can freeze it and it will keep for several months.
Chef's Note: Do not skip the kneading or resting portion of this recipe, they are essential for a light pasta.
Roll out to a thickness of about 1/8 inch (.3cm), and cut into lengths of various widths. Serve thinner width noodles as you would traditional spaghetti, with sauce and meatballs, and thicker cuts with cream or parmesan sauces, and/or soups.
Roll out slightly thicker than standard noodles (up to 1/4 inch (.6cm)), cut into widths of 1 inch (2.5cm) or more, and serve with a nice chicken soup as egg-noodle dumplings.
Roll out into thin sheets of 1/8 inch (.3cm), or slightly thinner, and use in making lasagna. If you’ve never had lasagna with thin homemade noodles, you are in for a treat. The ultra thin noodles allow for the flavors of the meat and cheese to subtlety blend together, in a beautiful way. This is something store-bought noodles cannot accomplish.
Roll out into thin sheets of 1/8 inch (.3cm), and then use to make nice ravioli, or how about some delicious manicotti?
Keep the faith, and keep cooking.
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