Homemade pasta is one of those things that can make a simple meal really special. I bet you don't know how easy it is to make though? After receiving the wonderful gift of a pasta-rolling machine from my aunt over the holidays, it prompted me to start making my own pasta again. While I used a rolling machine, I have written this pasta recipe to be made by hand or by machine, it turns out just as good (most italians argue it turns out even better) if you put in a bit of elbow grease. The addition of the strong bread flour to the pasta flour adds extra gluten to the mix and leaves you with a lovely firm pasta when cooked. The quantities below should produce six to eight portions of cooked pasta depending on which pasta you make and the recipe can be easily adapted according to how much you need.
300g '00' flour*
*'00' flour is a super finely ground flour which makes for a silky smooth pasta. If you can't get it at your local shop, don't worry, just replace it with the same amount of plain flour.
200g strong bread flour
Large pinch of salt
3 large eggs and 3 egg yolks, at room temperature*
*Pasta hates the cold so best to avoid chilled eggs, cold rooms and cold work surfaces such as marble or stone, wood is best!
Start by sifting the flours and salt together onto your work surface and making a big well in the centre.
In a bowl, lightly mix the 3 large eggs with the 3 egg yolks.
Pour the egg mix into the well you created in the flour and slowly start to combine the flour and egg using your fingertips, continuing until you make a ball of dough that has all come together. This is where the elbow grease comes in!
Start to knead the dough ball, as you would bread, and continue for 10 minutes. Be careful to make sure you are stretching the dough, using the heel of your palm and pushing away from you, rather than compressing and pushing down on the dough which will make it very dense. Kneading the dough properly combines the egg and the flour, and when these two are combined, the gliadin and glutenin proteins in the flour expand and form strands of gluten, which gives pasta its texture. Next, split the ball in half and chill it, in a damp tea-towel, in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, start rolling out your dough, rolling away from you and turning every roll until it is as thin as you can get it. If you are using a machine, start by rolling out the pasta until it is 1cm thick and then follow the instructions on your machine.
Once rolled, you can decide what pasta you want to cut. You can cut lasagne sheets, fold the sheet over several times and cut tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine or use a cutter and make shapes for filled pasta like ravioli!
To cook this pasta, bring a pan of salted water to a boil and add the pasta for 1-2 minutes (depending on how you like your pasta). Fresh pasta cooks a lot quicker than dried so keep an eye on it. Enjoy!