around the flour starch granules and the potato cells. Once the gluten network has sufficiently
developed and the dough has become sufficiently strong, it is moulded into small balls and cooked in
During cooking, the flour starch granules will take up water and swell as they gelatinize, making the
gnocchi increase in volume. Gnocchi do not increase in volume as much as dried pasta and rice on
cooking, because much of its starch content is provided by the potato cells and the starch granules in
these cells have already gelatinized. The gnocchi keep their shape because the egg proteins on the
surface of the gnocchi, which are in direct contact with the boiling water, will be heated up very quickly
and will coagulate rapidly, keeping the gnocchi together and preventing it from falling apart.
Why do they rise?
When gnocchi are placed in cooking water they fall to the bottom, because they are composed mainly
of starch, and starch is more dense than water (if flour is placed in water it will fall). As the flour starch
starts to gelatinize, more and more water will enter the gnocchi, reducing its density more and more to
that of pure water, however its density will always be less than the density of the cooking water.
So why do they float to the surface of the pan? Gnocchi float because tiny bubbles of evaporating
water get trapped in the crevices in the gnocchi. When the crevices are filled with these tiny bubbles,
they are pushed up to the surface. If a gnocchi that has risen to the surface of the cooking water is
removed from the pan, and slowly rolled on a surface to remove the trapped air bubbles, when this
gnocchi is put back in the cooking water, it will sink. (This is the same phenonemen as when
cauliflower rises during cooking – cauliflower has a very irregular structure in which bubbles of water
vapour are easily trapped – when the cauliflower floats, if it is removed and its surface tapped, they will
re fall when returned to the cooking liquid).
So when gnocchi rises to the surface of the cooking water, it does not necessarily indicate that the