Given a menu with ultimate meal options, I will always choose simple, rustic fare made from a few good quality local and seasonal ingredients, rather than some visually beautiful and technically impressive dish smothered in a complex sauce. It is therefore no surprise, that my favourite cuisine is Italian. Fresh basil, bread, tomatoes, cheese, olives and , all washed down with a carafe of wine…what’s not to love? I didn’t always appreciate in quite the way I do now. As a child, I enjoyed tinned spaghetti mainly because I could spell out words with the shapes. As a student, my staple diet was cheap and tomato sauce, because apart from beans on toast it was about all I could cook or afford. Then in my early twenties everything changed. I naively made budget spaghetti for an Italian friend. I cooked it in cold, unsalted water as I always had, I snapped the in half, rinsed it after draining, then threw in a whole jar of sauce. He lost all composure, scraped our meal into the bin, muttered a stream of expletives (that I thankfully didn’t understand) and then patiently showed me how to cook . From that day on, I  bought the good quality stuff, cooked it ‘al dente’ and developed a much greater appreciation for the Italian staple that I had so badly mistreated.

Given my love of pasta and the fact that I do most of the cooking, we generally eat it at least once a week. Consequently, it was one of the first foods we tackled making from scratch when we began our journey to self-sufficiency. I still buy the odd packet of dried pasta (the good stuff of course…) for use with certain recipes, but the majority of what we eat now is fresh egg pasta made from scratch by hand. I prefer the taste, but more importantly I love the fact that my is not imported or packaged in plastic and that it uses eggs from our poultry. We also make coloured pasta with organic herbs and vegetables from our garden (more on this in the next post), which makes it even more special. Between the ducks and the chickens, we have a continual oversupply of eggs so whenever there is a major surplus I have a pasta making day to stock up the freezer with meal-sized portions that can be emptied straight out into a pan of boiling water when needed. We have a , which certainly speeds things up, but it is NOT essential, you can make equally good pasta armed with nothing but a rolling pin. Want to try it for yourself? I’ve tried and tested many different techniques and combinations of ingredients, but this is our favourite.

Note: The Difference between Fresh and Dried Pasta

Pasta comes in many shapes, sizes, colours, flavours and textures, but can be broadly divided into two main categories, dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca). It’s not that fresh pasta is inherently better than dried, they are made from different ingredients and are generally used for different purposes. Fresh egg pasta (below left) at its simplest is made from flour (generally Tipo 00) and eggs. It cooks rapidly, is soft and silky smooth and works well for making stuffed pasta such as Raviolo and dishes with delicate sauces where the texture of the pasta is key. Once made it is stored in the fridge or freezer. Dried pasta (below right) is made from flour (the quality versions use semolina flour) and water.  It is forced through a mould and slowly dried to form a whole range of shapes. The firmer consistency means it works well with heavy sauces and holds up to prolonged cooking for soups and casseroles. Unlike fresh pasta, it is also shelf-stable and stores almost indefinitely. This post will look at the basics of making fresh pasta, rather than the dried version.

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs – 2 whole eggs + 4 yolks
  • 300g Tipo 00 flour or all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Notes:

  • If I want to make fresh pasta with a bit more bite, substitute some of the 00 flour for semolina flour, typically around 1/3. I prefer not to do this as whilst great in dried pasta, semolina flour makes the fresh egg pasta coarser, more brittle and prone to cracking
  • Olive oil added to the dough gives the pasta a pleasant taste, but generally leads to it sticking in the pasta machine and I prefer it without.
  • If you prefer pasta with a bit more texture try adding a little water as this will create more gluten

Methods

Step 1. Weigh out the flour in a bowl then mix in salt. Empty the flour and salt out onto a clean, smooth benchtop and make a well in the centre (you can also do this in the bowl, but I find it easier with more space).

Step 2. Crack eggs into a cup then pour into the well. If the well is too shallow the eggs will just run out everywhere, which is not a disaster, but it is better avoided by making a decent sized crater.

Step 3. Beat the eggs with a fork and slowly combine the flour from the edges until the dough starts to come together

Step 4. Bring the dough together into a ball using your hands or a dough scraper (if you have one)

Step 5. Knead the ball for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and supple. The dough is quite forgiving and it is hard to over-knead it, but continue for too long and it will likely start to dry out. If it becomes too dry wrap in a warm damp cloth for 30 minutes to rehydrate. The ball of pasta dough should not be wet or tacky, but firm and smooth with no stray bits of unincorporated flour.

Step 6. Once happy with the texture, wither wrap it up tightly in plastic or place in a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel and let it rest for 1/2 hour – 1 hour. This step is not absolutely essential if you are in a hurry, but the dough is better for it. If I know I am going to be pushed for time, I generally make the dough the night before and store in the fridge.

Step 7. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, put one to the side to work on and rewrap or cover the remaining pieces to avoid them drying out.

Making Pasta using a machine:

Step 8.   Flatten out the dough so it can be fed through the widest roller on the pasta machine

Step 9. Fold the sheet over on itself, ends in and then in half again. Pass through the widest setting. Repeat this process at least 6 times, it is called ‘laminating’ and it strengths the dough.

Step 10. Repeat lightly flouring the pasta and passing it through the rollers, but this time go down through each of the settings on the machine until you achieve the desired thickness. Pasta thickness depends on purpose and preference “5” is good for most ribbon pasta and ravioli but “6” can be used for a very thin fettuccine or tortellini.

Making pasta with a rolling pin:

Step 8. The process is very much the same as with the pasta machine. Flatten out the dough, lightly dusting with flour as you go.

Step 9. Fold the sheet over on itself, ends in and then in half again, turn it 90 degrees and then flatten out again with the rolling pin. Repeat this process at least 6 times.

Step 10. Roll the dough until you achieve the desired thickness. This does take a bit of patience, but it will be rewarded later. Turn the dough and roll it out from both ends. Take care not to cause rucks in the sheet as you go. Any mistakes along the way can be rectified by folding over the dough and rolling it out again. When the pasta is ready and the correct thickness it should look translucent

Step 11. Hang the rolled pasta sheet to dry for 10-15 minutes and in the meantime process the next ball. We have a pasta drying stand, but hanging the sheets on coat hangers works just as well.

Cutting Pasta using a machine

Step 12. Our pasta machine has 2 settings that I use for spaghetti and fettuccine. If you have a machine, simply feed the sheets through on the desired setting.

Cutting the Pasta by Hand

Step 12. I don’t like to be limited to the two options on the machine so I often cut the pasta by hand. Ribbon widths of other classic pasta varieties include:

  • Pappardelle 20mm
  • Tagliatelle 8mm
  • Trennette 7mm
  • Fettuccine 6mm
  • Linguine 3mm

To cut the pasta by hand, you need a sharp knife and depending on your level or perfectionism, a ruler. Dust the work surface with flour. Fold the sheet in half to locate the centre. Then roll each end over toward the centre line to make a scroll. Take a sharp knife and cut off any untidy edges.

Step 12b. Cut the ribbons to the desired width. Slide the blunt side of the knife under the pasta to the centre line.

Step 12c. Lift the knife upwards and the pasta ribbons should unfurl freely with a gentle shake, if not carefully unroll ribbons manually.

Step 13. Spread your ribbons out on a floured surface coil into nests or hang out to dry. If coiling into nests, make sure to dust them well with flour as the ribbons can easily revert back to a ball of dough if the strand stick together. This drying period will reduce the chance of the individual strands sticking together during cooking.

Step 14. To cook, bring a pan containing 1 litre of water per 100g of pasta to the boil. The volume of water used to cook the pasta is important as a smaller volume will increase the likelihood of strands sticking together. Once boiling add 10g of rock salt per litre of water. Add the pasta and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Taste to determine when ready. Drain the pasta (DO NOT RINSE), reserving 2-3 tablespoons of cooking water to return to the pan with the pasta. Toss your preferred sauce through the pasta in the pan before serving.

Storing Fresh Pasta

Fresh pasta is best eaten the day it is made, but if you are not using the pasta immediately, the ribbons can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days. Alternatively, coil into nests and freeze on a tray. The frozen nests can then be transferred to a storage container or zip lock bag and returned to the freezer where they can be kept for several months. Individual portions can be stored in this way and when required cooked from frozen. This will only slightly increase the required cooking time by a minute or so.

Other pasta shapes to try

If you wish to try something more adventurous than ribbons, Farfalle’s is easy, if a little fussy and time consuming. Cut squares with fluted sides 4-6cm long, using a pastry cutter, then cut in half again. Pinch the rectangles together in the middle of the long side using your thumb and forefinger to form butterfly or bow tie shapes. If the shapes do not hold, moisten fingers and pinch again.

Mandilli de saea (silk handkerchiefs) are easy to make by cutting pasta sheets 100mm x 100mm then allowing them to dry. This type of pasta is traditionally served with Pesto alla Genovese.

For recipes and methods for making stuffed pasta and coloured pasta check back later in the week!

Homemade Pasta
 
Full recipe, methods and tips to make soft, silky smooth fresh egg pasta at home from scratch
Author:
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 6 eggs – 2 whole eggs + 4 yolks
  • 300g Tipo 00 flour or all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Weigh out the flour in a bowl then mix in salt. Empty the flour and salt out onto a clean, smooth benchtop and make a well in the centre (you can also do this in the bowl, but I find it easier with more space
  2. Crack eggs into a cup then pour into the well. If the well is too shallow the eggs will just run out everywhere, which is not a disaster, but it is better avoided by making a decent sized crater.
  3. Beat the eggs with a fork and slowly combine the flour from the edges until the dough starts to come together
  4. Bring the dough together into a ball using your hands or a dough scraper (if you have one)
  5. Knead the ball for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and supple. The dough is quite forgiving and it is hard to over-knead it, but continue for too long and it will likely start to dry out. If it becomes too dry wrap in a warm damp cloth for 30 minutes to rehydrate. The ball of pasta dough should not be wet or tacky, but firm and smooth with no stray bits of unincorporated flour. Once happy with the texture, wither wrap it up tightly in plastic or place in a bowl and cover with a damp tea towel and let it rest for ½ hour - 1 hour. This step is not absolutely essential if you are in a hurry, but the dough is better for it. If I know I am going to be pushed for time, I generally make the dough the night before and store in the fridge.
  6. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, put one to the side to work on and rewrap or cover the remaining pieces to avoid them drying out.
  7. If making pasta using a machine:
  8. Flatten out the dough so it can be fed through the widest roller on the pasta machine
  9. Fold the sheet over on itself, ends in and then in half again. Pass through the widest setting. Repeat this process at least 6 times, it is called 'laminating' and it strengths the dough.
  10. Repeat lightly flouring the pasta and passing it through the rollers, but this time go down through each of the settings on the machine until you achieve the desired thickness. Pasta thickness depends on purpose and preference “5” is good for most ribbon pasta and ravioli but "6" can be used for a very thin fettuccine or tortellini.
  11. If Making pasta with a rolling pin:
  12. The process is very much the same as with the pasta machine. Flatten out the dough, lightly dusting with flour as you go.
  13. Fold the sheet over on itself, ends in and then in half again, turn it 90 degrees and then flatten out again with the rolling pin. Repeat this process at least 6 times.
  14. Roll the dough until you achieve the desired thickness. This does take a bit of patience, but it will be rewarded later. Turn the dough and roll it out from both ends. Take care not to cause rucks in the sheet as you go. Any mistakes along the way can be rectified by folding over the dough and rolling it out again. When the pasta is ready and the correct thickness it should look translucent
  15. Hang the rolled pasta sheet to dry for 10-15 minutes and in the meantime process the next ball. We have a pasta drying stand, but hanging the sheets on coat hangers works just as well.
  16. Cutting Pasta using a machine
  17. If you have a machine, simply feed the sheets through on the desired setting. Ribbon widths of other classic pasta varieties include: Pappardelle 20mm, Tagliatelle 8mm, Trennette 7mm, Fettuccine 6mm, Linguine 3mm
  18. To cut the pasta by hand, you need a sharp knife and depending on your level or perfectionism, a ruler. Dust the work surface with flour. Fold the sheet in half to locate the centre. Then roll each end over toward the centre line to make a scroll. Take a sharp knife and cut off any untidy edges.
  19. Cut the ribbons to the desired width. Slide the blunt side of the knife under the pasta to the centre line.
  20. Lift the knife upwards and the pasta ribbons should unfurl freely with a gentle shake, if not carefully unroll ribbons manually.
  21. Spread your ribbons out on a floured surface coil into nests or hang out to dry. If coiling into nests, make sure to dust them well with flour as the ribbons can easily revert back to a ball of dough if the strands stick together. This drying period will reduce the chance of the individual strands sticking together during cooking
  22. To cook, bring a pan containing 1 litre of water per 100g of pasta to the boil. The volume of water used to cook the pasta is important as a smaller volume will increase the likelihood of strands sticking together. Once boiling add 10g of rock salt per litre of water. Add the pasta and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Taste to determine when ready. Drain the pasta (DO NOT RINSE), reserving 2-3 tablespoons of cooking water to return to the pan with the pasta. Toss your preferred sauce through the pasta in the pan before serving

 


Related Posts

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

Rate this recipe:  

After you have typed in some text, hit ENTER to start searching...