Back to Basics…. Handmade Pasta

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There is nothing quite so satisfying as making your own fresh pasta. I love making my own pasta because it takes in so much more of the flavour of the sauce, it makes pasta a whole dish, rather than a tasty sauce on top of a dry pile of bland pasta.

The key to smooth, silky pasta is not to overwork the dough, but to make sure you knead it enough to activate the gluten. Don’t worry if you don’t get it on the first go, it’s all about getting a feel for finding that balance. Here is how I make my pasta-

Step One- Make a mound with 500g of plain flour and a decent pinch of salt and then shape it into a volcano shape with a deep central crater. Add 4 eggs and whisk them with a fork gently, just enough to break the yolk but not to disturb the flour yet.

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Step Two- Continue whisking incorporating a little more flour from the volcano as you go. Once most of the flour has been incorporated and it has a crumbly texture start mixing it together with your hands instead. Make the crumbly mixture into a mound again and add a splash of water and start kneading. Keep adding a splash of water at a time until it makes a slightly sticky dough.

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Step Three- Sprinkle some flour on the bench and continue kneading until smooth and elastic. Add more flour to the bench as needed. When kneading I push and roll with my palm and then rebuild and push and roll and rebuild, over and over again.

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Step Four- By the end it should look like the photo above. Now its time to start rolling. Set your pasta roller to the thickest setting, break off about a handful of dough and work into a disc shape, then you can start feeding it through the rollers. If it sticks and tears, sprinkle some extra flour over the pasta and the rollers. If it is not feeding through easily, but is not sticky, try adding some olive oil- not water. pasta5

 

Step Five- Fold it in half after each go through the rollers and do it on each setting for three rolls, or a bit longer if you have had any tears as you go. Change the settings on the roller to be thinner and thinner until it is at the required thickness. Hang until all of the pasta has been rolled out. I use either a broom between two benches or a small clothes airer. I also put a tea towel underneath to make sure that it doesn’t stick. Once all the pasta is rolled out, continue as required for your recipe. Make sure you have more room in the pot than you would normally use for dry pasta.

Step Six- Fall in love with fresh pasta and never want to use dry pasta again. Actually, I lie, dry pasta is good for dry sauces like oil based ones or just use less sauce. Fresh is best for creamier sauces and ones that are perfect for mopping up with bread afterwards.

 

 

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