Making your own pasta is one of the easiest things you can do in cooking – and the payoff is fantastic. Ever since I gave it a go a few years ago I haven’t used the shop-bought stuff since. Not only is there something hugely rewarding about it, it’s also a massively calming exercise and one that is easy to push yourself on. Once you’ve mastered a basic tagliatelle, you can experiment with different shapes, colours and even have a go at filling some.
Right now though, I’m just going to run through the absolute basics to start you off and later will come some of the more technical and tricky aspects of pasta making.
Pasta: Serves Four
Pasta machine (optional but highly recommended) or rolling pin.
400g ’00’ Flour
4 free-range eggs
Pinch of salt
The rule of thumb is: one egg to each 100g of flour. If you’re feeding fewer or more than the above alter accordingly.
To begin, on your work surface or bowl if preferred place your flour and make a well in the centre. Crack all the eggs into the well followed by a pinch of salt and begin to combine. To do this use a fork to bring in the flour gradually. Lumps will appear but don’t lose hope and continue to mix the dough. Once the dough starts to become tougher, discard the fork and get stuck in with your hands bringing in the remainder of the flour. Start to knead.
The most effective kneading method I find it to place your fingers at the end of the dough nearest to you and with your free hand push the dough away from you so you’re effectively stretch it out. Fold it down back on itself and push away once again. Continue to do this to build up the gluten. Rotate it 90 degrees and continue with the same method before rotating again. You’ll need to knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
If you’re using a stand mixer, attached the dough hook. Throw the flour into the bowl, making a well the same as above. Crack the eggs into the well, throw in a pinch of salt and turn on the mixer – slowly at first, and then increase the speed. The dough it done when it’s smooth and elastic.
In either case, if your dough it too dry, add a little olive oil or a little ’00’ flour if too wet.
Once your dough is to the desired texture cover in cling film and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
They see me rollin’, they hatin’.
Now it’s time to roll. Split your dough into quarters. It’s far easier to handle if you deal with a quarter of it at a time. Cover what you’re not rolling yet so it doesn’t dry out.
Flatten your dough slightly and put it through your roller at it’s widest setting for a few times. At this point I fold both edges in the middle to create a square and roll it through again for a further 3 times. This not only helps the shape but also smooths it at the same time.
Work your way through the settings, rolling the dough through each one about 3 times. You may need to split the dough in half once again when it gets to the thinnest settings so you can handle it better both with rolling, cooking and when eating!
Once you’ve rolled through the lowest setting, you’ll want to cut the dough. You can do this in a variety of ways – either with a pasta wheel, a sharp knife or using the pasta machine if you have the attachment. Choose your preference. I eat pasta most often with a thick meaty sauce so opt for parpadelle – it allows the sauce to cling on better.
Dust the sheets of rolled out pasta with flour and fold it up, allowing you to cut it with more precision. You’re looking for 1cm for tagliatelle and 2cm for parpadelle.
Dust the cut pasta with semolina or ’00’ flour, and cover with a towel or cling film if not cooking straight away. When ready, bring a pan of salted water to a rolling boil and add the pasta. It should be ready in about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer the cooked pasta to the pan of sauce to allow the pasta to suck up all the flavour and serve with a smile on your face.