Dark Days: Handmade Whole Wheat Pasta

I’ve been meaning to make fresh pasta again for a while now; I probably would not have done it today if I had not remembered that it is Sunday and I hadn’t yet planned my Dark Days meal o’ the week.  Thanks, Dark Days Challenge, for giving me a kick in the pants!

The last time I made whole wheat pasta, I used all whole wheat bread flour (hard red spring wheat flour from Wild Hive) and the dough was so dense that I had to get Tai’s help to roll it out.  The flavor was still good; nutty and wheaty, but the texture, even of the cooked noodles, was dense and the rolling out was enough to convince us to look into a pasta machine.  The pasta machine never happened, but I’ve since gained a lot more experience in working with local whole wheat flours, and this time I made the pasta with mostly pastry flour; much more finely ground and much easier to roll and shape.  In fact, these adorable farfalle came together in no time (with Tai’s help in forming the bow-ties), and served with some of last summer’s home-canned tomato sauce, a sprinkle of dried basil from the garden and a grating or two of local aged goat cheese, this delicious dinner was fun to make, relatively quick and perfectly local.  And we have leftover pasta to dry and store against another busy week – huzzah!

Intrigued?  See the rest of the Dark Days recipes here.

Farfalle made using the pasta shaping techniques outlined in Cutting and Shaping Pasta by Hand on RecipeTips.com.

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Handmade Whole Wheat Pasta

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup (1 and 1/8 oz) whole wheat bread flour (hard red spring wheat)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (7 and 7/8 oz, for a total of 9 oz flour) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • water (I added a total of 5 tbsp)

METHODS

  1. Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl. 
  2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs.  Make a well in the flour, add the eggs to the middle, and add 2 tbsp of the water.  Fold to form a soft dough; add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, until a soft but not sticky dough forms.  Try not to overwork the dough (developing gluten in the dough, which is done by kneading or heavy mixing, will make the pasta dough more difficult to roll out and shape).
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface (a wet kitchen towel under a cutting board helps prevent slipping).  Roll, turning and dusting with flour frequently, into a large rectangle, until the pasta is as thin as you can get it without tearing ( about 1/16th inch or less).  If at any point the dough is ‘fighting’ you; seems to resist rolling out, or springs back, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 to 20 minutes, then resume rolling.
  4. To make farfalle, with a fluted pastry wheel (or pizza wheel or sharp knife), roll out strips of pasta 1 and 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Use a ruler to keep the individual farfalle somewhat uniform.  Turn the board 90 degrees and cut the strips every inch, to make 1-inch X 2-inch rectagles. 
  5. Slide the rectangles off the work surface using a small (off-set, if you have it) spatula, then pinch the middle of the rectangle together in order to form the bow-tie shape.  Flour your fingers, or moisten them with water, in order to make the dough stick (or release) as necessary.
  6. Spread farfalle on a clean kitchen towel, dusted with flour, and allow to dry for 15 – 30 minutes before cooking (a minor drying period helps the pasta hold it’s shape upon cooking). 
  7. Boil pasta in a large stockpot of salted water for about 3 – 5 minutes, or until al dente.  Drain and serve hot with your favorite sauce.

Yields about six 1-cup servings.

OPTIONS

  1. You can increase the amount of heartier whole wheat bread flour, to increase protein and nutty wheat flavor, but doing so will make the dough tougher, making it harder to roll out and shape.  Experiment to find the optimal ratio for your taste and pasta-making skills.
  2. You can add many things to fresh pasta dough prior to rolling and shaping: fresh or dried herbs, black or red pepper, cinnamon & nutmeg or ground saffron. 

STORE

Fresh pasta can be stored, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.  Place shaped pasta so that it is not touching, separate layers with waxed paper, and store in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can air-dry pasta for long term storage. Simply leave the shaped pasta out, on the floured kitchen towel.  Turn the pieces now and then to ensure even drying of both sides. After 24 hours, try to cut a piece open with a fork to see if the middle is dry. If you can’t cut it, it is sufficiently dry to store in airtight containers.

SEASON

Year round.

LOCAL RESOURCES

  • Flour:  Wild Hive Farm, Clinton Corners, NY
  • Eggs: New England Farms, Granville, NY
  • Tomato sauce (homemade and canned from: tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, summer squash, carrots and lemon basil): Ryder Farm CSA, Brewster, NY
  • Dried basil: my garden
  • Aged hard goat cheese: Equinox, Bardwell Farms, West Pawlet, VT
  • Kosher salt: Away
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9 comments

  1. Making pasta is fun, and somehow I never thought of the bow-tie shape! I don’t have a pasta machine/feeder, so I started to learn how to make pocket-type pastas cut in squares. This would work too, just pinching off the squares. My father loves pasta, so even though I can’t eat it, I enjoy making it. I’m very new at it, so your tips and pictures are much appreciated.
    Question: I don’t use eggs in my pasta. How do you think this would come out without eggs?

  2. local kitchen

    Hi Mangochild,

    I think with the whole wheat pastry flour a flour-and-water dough would work fine; you might want to add a little olive oil for stickability, and the more hearty grain flour you use, the more difficulty you may have in rolling & shaping.

    The link above to rolling & shaping pasta by hand is a great resource; the orecchiette pasta they discuss is a flour-and-water dough.

  3. I used to make those! But I’ve not had good success with whole wheat and pasta together. I’ll have to try it with pastry flour. I was thinking that durham wheat which they make semolina from is high in protein so maybe I’ve been on the wrong track. I’ve been trying it with emmer and not very successfully.

    If you have a kitchenaid you can always get a pasta attachment for it. I’m a geek though and I have an atlas pasta maker. One bonus with the pasta maker is that you can get crackers rolled out very thinly which is key to getting them nice and crispy.

    Great idea! Farfalle with preserved lemons, salty cheese, fresh basil and pine nuts is so yummy too.

  4. Pingback: 2011 is Not Starting Out So Great. | Grow & Resist

  5. Pingback: Cook It 2012: Pasta | Grow & Resist

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