There are few things better than fresh, homemade pasta. It has a vastly superior texture and flavor when compared to that dried stuff from a box. I suspect that more people don’t make it because it seems somewhat intimidating if you haven’t done it before. While it does take a bit of time to complete, it isn’t difficult at all. However, it is somewhat difficult to give a procedure with precise measurements because the exact size of eggs and the hydration of flour can vary with time and location. Making pasta dough is definitely one of those kitchen activities that requires some on the fly adaptation to the conditions at hand. If the dough looks dry add a bit of water or oil; if it is too sticky, knead in some flour. Below I give directions for making the dough by hand – you can also throw everything into a food processor and whirl it around until clumps of dough form.
Before attempting fresh pasta on my own I did a survey of all the recipes I could easily find and they ranged from a ratio of 3/4 egg per cup of flour to recipes with a ratio of slightly more than 1 egg/cup flour with extra yolks added as an enrichment. As a sensible compromise I chose to use 1 egg per cup of flour – this has the added benefit of being supremely easy to remember.
1 cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
large pinch salt
1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the eggs.
2. Working outwards from the center, slowly stir the flour into the eggs until it becomes difficult to incorporate more flour.
3. Dump the contents of the bowl onto the counter and knead the dough until a smooth, elastic dough is formed (about 5 minutes).
4. Wrap the dough in plastic and rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
5. Cut the dough into pieces and use a pasta machine to roll it, typically the pasta sheet is rolled 1-2 times on each setting, decreasing the roller spacing one notch at a time until the desired thickness is reached.
6. Cut the dough into the desired shape.
You can cut the dough by hand into large pappardelle as I have above, or any other shape you like. At this point it helps to let the pasta lay on the counter to dry slightly before handling it, this will prevent clumping. A light dusting of flour is also helpful. If you want to be really fancy you can buy one of those spiffy pasta drying racks with all the arms (this would be really helpful if you don’t have lots of empty counter space).
Next up: Christmas candies