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A few years ago at Amigo Centre in southern Michigan I had the opportunity to learn to make homemade noodles from a real Amish cook. I was speaking there about my book, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime and the adult program director, Mandy Yoder, had invited a local Amish mother, Maggie, to help participants in a Road Scholar educational/travel* program learn how to make Amish homemade noodles.
Maggie is a petite young woman who had two toddlers at home at the time. I’m guessing she didn’t mind sending her toddlers off with her husband for the morning while she came and gave us a cooking lesson. She seemed to enjoy interacting with us and gave permission for us to photograph the process including herself, as long as she did not pose. She and Mandy made up a huge batch of noodles ahead of time for us to enjoy at lunch that day, and also helped us make smaller batches to roll out and take home.
Today’s Amish cooks use noodle cutters and dough flatteners like everyone else to make the job go much easier. But if you don’t have that equipment, you can use a rolling pin, knife or pizza cutter to make a small batch of noodles.
As I researched recipes for Amish noodles, I had previously made two batches at home including one using lard; Maggie’s recipe was even better than the ones I tried, and she didn’t use any lard. It is nice to know that you can still make food-that-will-stick-to-your-ribs using just flour, water, eggs and a dash of salt!
Amish noodles use eggs and all-purpose flour. On the other hand, various forms of pasta, depending on where they originates in Italy, will sometimes use olive oil or eggs or Semolina flour with the all-purpose flour. Amish noodles are very doughy and are cooked until soft, not al dente.
A small caution here: since there are no preservatives in these, eventually the noodles can get buggy if just kept in your pantry. Freeze the dried noodles if you will be shelving them longer than 2-3 months.
Here are the basic proportions Maggie used for noodles, from Gather Round the Amish Table: Treasured Recipes and Stories from Plain Communities. We halved the portions used in the book.
Quantity for just a small batch:
3 egg yolks (Amish cooks traditionally save the egg whites to be used in other recipes)
3 tablespoons water
1 ½ c. flour
¼ – ½ teaspoon salt
Beat egg yolks and water thoroughly. In a separate bowl, stir salt into flour. Form a small well in the flour and pour the egg yolks and water into the flour well. Stir and knead together, using your hands. Form two small balls of dough. Roll out very thin on lightly floured surface. Cut into long strips with knife or pizza cutter, or put through noodle maker. Dry on cookie sheets or any kind of clean drying rack that would work for the purpose. Allow to dry at least partially, several hours. Cook in lightly salted boiling water and cook for 6-10 minutes.
*Click here for more on the travel/educational opportunity at Amigo Centre, “Study in Shared Heritage: The Amish and Mennonites.”
Melodie M. Davis is the author of nine books, most recently, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime (Herald Press, 2010). She writes the syndicated column, Another Way, serves as a managing editor for Herald Press, and is also editor of a local family publication, Valley Living. She keeps a blog where she features frequent recipes from her home, family and church life. She is married and the mother of three adult daughters and grandmother of four grandsons.