Why It Works
- Using bread flour, which has a high protein content, gives you noodles with plenty of chew.
- Supplementing the protein content of bread flour with vital wheat gluten produces an even chewier noodle.
- Using baked baking soda (sodium carbonate) and potassium carbonate in the dough gives the noodles their characteristic elasticity, springiness, and glossiness, as well as their flavor.
- Running the dough sheets repeatedly through the pasta rollers both develops a strong gluten network and aligns it so that it runs the length of the sheet, giving the noodles their "bite."
This recipe is a more advanced version of our previously published recipe for homemade ramen noodles. If this is your first time making alkaline noodles using a pasta machine at home, please use the first recipe instead. If you've made the previously published recipe, and this is your first attempt at exploring sub-40%-hydration noodles, we suggest tackling the 38%-hydration, whole wheat noodle recipe instead.
This recipe uses a much drier dough than the previously published one, and is consequently much more difficult to work with. Aside from the high-protein bread flour, vital wheat gluten, and baked baking soda called for in the previous recipe, this recipe requires potassium carbonate, which you can buy online.
You can use these noodles with just about any ramen broth recipe. The final noodle can be made thicker or thinner according to your preferences. This recipe makes four portions of noodles, based on the following formula for a single portion of noodles; use it to scale the recipe up or down as you desire:
- 99g King Arthur bread flour
- 1g vital wheat gluten
- 1g kosher salt
- 0.75g baked baking soda (sodium carbonate)
- 0.25g potassium carbonate
- 35g water
We strongly recommend using a jeweler's scale to measure out the quantities of the salts and the vital wheat gluten. If you don't own and don't wish to purchase a jeweler's scale, and will be using a kitchen scale instead, make sure to double-check the weights of the alkaline salts and the vital wheat gluten, and be prepared for some minor inconsistencies in your results.
- 3g baked baking soda
- 140ml water
- 1g potassium carbonate
- 4g Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt or other kinds of salt, use the same weight
- 396g King Arthur bread flour (see note)
- 4g vital wheat gluten (see note)
- Potato starch or cornstarch, for dusting noodles
To Make the Noodles: Add baked baking soda to water and stir to dissolve completely, about 30 seconds. Add potassium carbonate to water and stir to dissolve completely, about 30 seconds. Add salt and stir until dissolved completely. Set alkalized water aside.
Combine bread flour and vital wheat gluten in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Process until thoroughly mixed, about 30 seconds in a food processor or 1 minute on low speed in a stand mixer.
With the machine running, add 1/3 of alkalized water at a time, allowing time between additions (about 1 minute) for the liquid to be fully absorbed. After the final addition, allow machine to run until mixture looks pebbly and easily forms a ball when compressed in your hand, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Lay a 3- to 4-foot-long sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface. Spread pebbly dough mixture out onto plastic wrap to form a rough 6-inch by 2 1/2–foot rectangle. Using your hands or fists, and using the plastic wrap to help you corral any bits of dough, compress loose dough into a single plank with a height of no more than 1/2 cm (1/4 inch). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, using more wrap if necessary, and place in refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
When ready to roll out and knead dough, remove dough from refrigerator and let sit, wrapped, at room temperature for 30 minutes. In the meantime, set up a stand mixer fitted with the pasta-rolling attachment, or a manual pasta-rolling machine.
Unwrap sheet and, using a bench scraper or knife, divide dough into 4 even portions; cover with plastic to prevent dough from drying out. Set stand mixer speed to medium-low, then check that the pasta-roller attachment is set to its widest setting. You'll want to be extra careful that the setting is right; using a setting that's too thin for the dough can result in the rollers getting knocked out of alignment or breaking altogether.
Feed one portion of dough through rollers, applying pressure to ensure it passes evenly through. If it passes through in one piece, run the resulting piece through the second-widest roller setting, then cover in plastic to prevent drying and set aside.
If the dough breaks up into many flattened pieces, place the flattened pieces on your work surface and press them into something that resembles a sheet, then pass it through the rollers again. Run the resulting piece through the second-widest roller setting, then set aside.
Repeat the process from step 7 with another portion of the dough.
Stack the 2 rolled sheets of dough on top of each other, then run them together through the widest setting of the pasta roller, followed by the second-widest setting, followed by the third-widest setting. Fold the dough sheet in half, making it half of its original length. Press down on the seam to flatten it, then run the sheet seam side first through the second-widest setting, followed by the third-widest setting. The dough should now feel cohesive and strong, not pebbly or grainy.
Fold dough sheet in half again, making it half its original length. Press down on the seam to flatten it and cut off both corners of the seam diagonally, so that the dough sheet fits easily into the rollers. Run the sheet seam side first through the widest setting of the pasta rollers, then through the next-widest setting, then through the next-widest setting, and finally again through the next-widest setting. Fold in half lengthwise, press down on the seam, cut off the corners, and repeat the process. If this is done correctly, longitudinal lines will form on the sheet of dough. If you do not see these longitudinal lines, repeat the process until they appear—they are an indication that the gluten has been properly developed.
Wrap dough sheet in plastic wrap or place it, folded, in a zipper-lock bag, then repeat the process with the remaining 2 portions of dough. Let dough sheets rest for at least 30 minutes before proceeding.
Working with 1 dough sheet at a time, fold sheet in half, press down on the seam, cut off the corners of the seam, then run the sheet seam side first through the widest setting of the rollers, then through progressively narrow settings on your pasta machine, until it reaches the thickness you desire (~1 to 1.5 mm). Run the final dough sheet through the spaghetti-cutting attachment. Dust noodles with potato starch or cornstarch to prevent sticking, shake off excess starch, and fold noodles into loose nests.
Place noodles in a zipper-lock bag, seal almost completely, and refrigerate at least overnight, but preferably for 4 to 7 days. (The noodles can be used immediately, but they will improve significantly in texture and flavor if allowed to age slightly; leaving the bag partially open allows moisture to evaporate and the noodles to dry properly at a slow rate.)
To Cook the Noodles: Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a rolling boil over high heat. If using noodle baskets, add noodles to baskets and plunge into water, rapidly stirring noodles with tongs or chopsticks to prevent sticking. If not using noodle baskets, add noodles directly to boiling water and stir vigorously with tongs or chopsticks to prevent sticking. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. (The exact cooking time will depend on your preferences for doneness and on the thickness of the noodles; see note.) Drain thoroughly, shaking off as much excess water as possible, and add to hot ramen broth for serving.
Basic digital scale and/or jeweler's scale, manual pasta machine or pasta roller attachment for a stand mixer, stand mixer or food processor, rolling pin (optional), bench scraper (optional), noodle baskets (optional)
King Arthur bread flour has one of the highest protein percentages of the many bread flours on the market, which is why it's specified here.
In order to determine the exact amount of time the noodles need to boil, you will have to test them. Cut a single noodle into 5 or 6 pieces, place the pieces in boiling water, and remove them at 10-second intervals, starting at 1 minute 30 seconds. Do this as many times as necessary to confirm the correct boiling time according to your preferences for doneness. When you've figured out the exact time, subtract 10 seconds, to account for the time the noodles will spend sitting in the hot bowl of broth.
Vital wheat gluten is a protein supplement that is used to give breads and noodles more "chew." It is available at most supermarkets, health food stores, and chains like Whole Foods.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The noodles are best made 4 days to a week before they're used. Noodles that have rested in the refrigerator overnight can be frozen for up to 3 months.