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Perfecting Gnocchi

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Thanks for sharing this, I love gnocchi too.


When making gnocchi, the enemy is gluten development.  It's important to knead / work the dough as little as possible to avoid gluten development or the gnocchi will be tough and dense.  The worse thing to do is make gnocchi in a mixmaster, as they'll end up like little rubber balls.


I have a few gluten intolerant family members and I have experimented with making gnocchi using corn flour instead of wheat flour.  Because corn flour has no gluten there's no risk of over-working the dough.  Although I make them this way to accommodate their allergies, the end result is a drier, almost crisper gnocchi that is always very tender. They're noticeable different to wheat gnocchi.


Personally, I think 100% corn flour isn't as good as perfect gnocchi made from wheat flour, but I think that a mix would certainly be worth experimenting with. A 50-50 mix of corn flour and soft wheat flour would be an interesting experiment (I'll do it one day…)


I'm mentioning this because you say you're using OO flour, but unfortunately this isn't a consistent global standard.  I think that in Italy OO is a softer / lower gluten flour for pasta and if the choice is between O and OO, then you'd use OO for gnocchi.  In other countries OO is a high protein bread and pizza flour.  It might be marketing (OO means Italian flour!  Pay more!) but using a OO flour that isn't made in Italy could result in something very different.  If you can find a low gluten cake flour then that would also be worth experimenting with.


Thanks for the tip about piping, never thought of that.  Will try it next time, although I'm not sure if the disposable piping bags I normally use will hold together with a gnocchi dough.  


I am using 00 flour from Italy. The brand is called Antico Molino Napoli and says produced by Antimo Caputo. It also says tipo "00" on the bag.

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I was not aware of the 1 hour time limit to edit your posts and I can't get a moderator to edit my post #4, so here is what I intended to put in that post. The thread will be out of order, but not much I can do about it now.



Real post #4:


The final test I did was comparing 00 flour to bread flour. The same chef that told me about using a pastry bag to pipe out the gnocchi also told us he used bread flour. Bread flour has more gluten in it than regular flour and gluten is not your friend if you are trying to make a nice light gnocchi, so this seemed a bit odd. He explained that bread flour is lighter than regular flour and will soak up more water from the potatoes so you can use less of it. Also this is the reason he uses the pastry bag as there is virtually no kneading of the dough, so therefore no gluten is really formed. Out of all the recipes I have researched I have never seen any of them use bread flour or use a pastry bag to pipe out the gnocchi, so I was excited to try this out to see if it could improve my gnocchi.

First let me recap the most important things (in order of importance) I had learned to this point:
- Getting as much water out of the potatoes as possible is the most important thing. That is why poking holes in the potatoes (so the steam can escape during cooking) and baking them is key. Boiling potatoes (even with the skin on) is going to give a much waterier potato. Also ricing the potatoes right after they come out of the oven and spreading the riced potatoes on a baking sheet and letting them cool (and letting the steam dissipate) helps in this regard. America's Test Kitchen (ATK for short) used all these techniques in their recipe.
- Next most important issue is the amount of flour. ATK used 4oz per 16oz potatoes (4:1 ratio) and my final version reduced this to 3 oz per 16 oz of potatoes (5.3:1 ratio). You MUST use a scale so you get this right! Remember the 16 oz of potatoes is after cooking/ricing/cooling!!
- Be very gentle with mixing / kneading the dough. It really gets all the kneading it needs just during the rolling out process, but if you want a little firmer dough you can gently knead it for maybe 30 seconds tops.
- Don't add salt to the dough as it pulls water out of the potatoes (as per the first link I posted), but instead use highly salted water to salt the gnocchi during cooking.

Ok, so onto the final cookoff where I made the final version of the recipe that I posted in my first post (did it both piping the gnocchi with the pastry bag and rolling it out), and compared those to a version with 2.5oz of bread flour (piped & rolled). The gnocchi with the bread flour came out too mushy, with the piped one being the mushiest as it doesn't get any gluten formed since there is no rolling. One could knead the dough first and then pipe it, but I don't see the benefit. The final recipe that was piped out also didn't have enough bite to it, so in the end I realized it's just best to roll the gnocchi out. Since I used 2.5 oz of bread flour vs 3 oz of 00 flour it's not clear whether the slightly mushy texture was just do to the smaller amount of flour or the fact that it was bread flour. In the end I think it's the amout of flour that is key and if you used 3 oz of AP/00 or bread it wouldn't make much difference.

Lastly a few comments on freezing gnocchi dough. I never freeze my dough as it changes the texture - from my reading/research it will make the consistency a bit heavier and/or a bit mushier. Tom Colicchio (in the first link) freezes the dough after it is cooked, as he says at his restaurant he has tried freezing it before and after cooking and the after cooking method is the best. If you need to freeze your gnocchi I'd go with his recommendation. Remember most restaurants need to freeze their dough as it would just be too difficult in a restaurant environment to make it per order. This is why you can actually make gnocchi at home (fresh) that will be better than almost any restaurant!

Anyways, looks like we are at the end of the road so I hope this was a useful thread and it helps you make your perfect gnocchi. Remember that some people might like a gnocchi that is a bit heavier that what I like, so you can always try 3.5oz or 4.0oz of flour in your recipe to see what you prefer (or knead the dough a bit more, etc). Enjoy!


Edited by jcg (log)
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