Help Me Make Chewier Noodles!
April 1, 2021 7:49 AM   Subscribe

I want to make the chewiest spaetzle ever. What do I need to do?

I'm really hoping someone who understands cooking on a fundamental level can help me out here. I have an old and totally fine spaetzle recipe and all the tools I need, but I would like to make the noodles chewier - maybe just a little chewier than stale cheese curds but not quite as chewy as swedish fish.

My recipe that works well is basic: flour, eggs, milk. I will be using either whole wheat or white coarse flour like I usually do. Which do I mess with to make them more rubbery? Do I just limit the milk and make them drier before I knife them into the boil? Do I increase the egg and make it initially eggier and a little wetter before going in? Do I just boil them longer? Should I work the dough more and just keep the recipe the same?

I tried googling and I get recipes, but not the thinking behind the process. I'm a good cook and have made these over and over exactly the same, but have never experimented. I don't mind experimenting, but I don't like wasting food right out of the gate.
posted by Tchad to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Use a high gluten flour like bread flour or you can add vital wheat gluten to your regular flour. Then work the dough for a few minutes longer than you normally would.
posted by mezzanayne at 7:57 AM on April 1, 2021 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Perfect! Thanks!
posted by Tchad at 8:11 AM on April 1, 2021

Best answer: Two things that are worth trying, separately and together:

1. Try high-gluten flour in place of all-purpose flour. The additional gluten will create more strands/ropes of structure within the dough that can create additional toothsome chew. You can further increase the gluten development by working the dough more.

2. Try alkalinizing the boiling water. This is a commonly used technique used for many types of alkaline noodles that helps produce a bouncy, chewy, elastic texture (the same effect also creates the chewy crust on a bagel). Here's how: dissolve 1 tablespoon baking soda per quart of water, and boil the spaetzle in it. To learn more about the effects of alkalinized water and alkaline noodles, check out these in-depth explorations from Serious Eats:
- Turn Your Pasta Into Ramen with Baking Soda
- The Ultimate Guide to Making Ramen Noodles At Home
posted by ourobouros at 8:12 AM on April 1, 2021 [9 favorites]

Yes to alkaline. You can either put it in the water or the dough itself. Pulling the noodles instead of pressing them will give you a chewy texture (as opposed to rubbery). This is a great tutorial. Just cut them into spaetzle sizes after pulling. I can vouch for this, I also adore chewy spaetzle.
posted by ananci at 8:27 AM on April 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

Definitely not longer cooking, that will make them mushy. The only thing I would add to the excellent advice above is extending the rest time after the batter is made. The recipe I use from Katy Sparks's "Sparks in the Kitchen" has you rest for an hour, but longer will give the gluten time to develop, like no-knead bread. You might like that result better than long mixing.
posted by wnissen at 1:26 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

The rural, simple, Austrian kind, which is called Nockerln, is basically the same recipe, but can easily be tweaked towards chewy (also my Personal preference). Replace the milk with water, use only one egg at most, and beat the flour and water mixture hard with a worden spoon until you see large air bubbles. The result should be dense and stringy when you pull out the spoon. Let the dough rest a few minutes. Then scrape them into boiling water and only cook until they rise to the surface. If you like them very chewy, use a table spoon to drop thick chunks into boiling water instead of delicate ones.
My mother used to scrape them directly into the boiling Rahmherz stew.
O i want some now...
posted by 15L06 at 1:44 PM on April 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

PS My mother usually used only water and flour and salt. No egg. The small kind with egg in the dough is more typical in restaurants.
posted by 15L06 at 1:47 PM on April 1, 2021

My grandmother used a batter of flour, egg, water with the press, cooked in heavily salted water.
posted by JawnBigboote at 2:29 PM on April 1, 2021

Best answer: my mothers recipe, as given above, is on Page 185 of the cookbook she learned to cook from, the recipes are all intended for cooking on a farm and are economic and intended to Feed manual labourers.
posted by 15L06 at 2:53 PM on April 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Consider drying them first. I don’t know if it’s easy/viable to dry homemade spaetzle, but that’s the real way the get chewy noodles. I’m not a fan of fresh pasta because it’s always too soft.

Does it have to be homemade? I’ve made fresh spaetzle, and it’s good, but I prefer store bought dry spaetzle because it IS chewier (and I don’t overcook.) It can be weirdly hard to find. We used to be able to get Maggi brand when I was younger, which was great, and now that store carries Bechtle, which is still good, but not quite as good as Maggi. Aldi also often has frozen spaetzle with sauce, but it’s definitely not as chewy as I’d prefer.

Also, spaetzle are delicious pan fried in butter if you somehow didn’t already know.
posted by catatethebird at 8:00 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Before I leave this and start my spaetzle journey, I want to thank you all so much.

I'm working from my Grandma's cookbook from 1897. Here is the basic recipe I learned from:

15L06, that link is a great resource for more than just spaetzle! Thanks ESPECIALLY for that!
posted by Tchad at 9:24 AM on April 2, 2021

Here's a direct link to the recipe on page 185.
If either of you feel comfortable providing translations of those recipes, it would be really appreciated. I can't even read the latter one's Gothic script. Though I do see that it says something about hot butter, so that checks out!
posted by wnissen at 8:27 AM on April 3, 2021

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