Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Pasta dough recipe

[Adapted from a posting to the cam.misc newsgroup]



One whole medium egg, or two yolks, per 100gm flour.
Um, that's it.

Use Tipo '00' (zero-zero) flour for this, just don't bother with anything else! You can often get it from supermarkets, and always (in Cambridge) from the Limoncello deli on Mill Road; probably also the Continental Stores on Cherry Hinton Road., assuming they're still going (I haven't looked for ages).

You'll need a scraper of some kind, something like a flexible food spatula. Get it now, whilst you're still clean! Oh, and wash hands now; this is going to get messy.

Break the eggs into a mixing jug, and mix lightly with a fork until they're reasonably even.

Sift the flour onto a clean work surface, ideally cold marble. Form it into a nice Mount Vesuvius shape. Make a well in the middle of the flour, and drop the eggs into it. Don't let them break out and spill onto the surface!

USING ONE HAND ONLY!, with the tips of your fingers, start to work the rest of the flour into the eggs. Keep the spatula to (your other) hand. You'll be using it for scraping gooey bits from your mixing hand back into the mixture.

Once you've got a solid ball of dough, you can use both hands to knead it. A word of advice: ignore suggestions you might see elsewhere, and don't add extra flour to the board whilst kneading! You'll just dry out the dough. Any stickiness should disappear as you work the dough, and the ball of dough will pick up any bits it sheds.

If the dough gets too dry, and starts to fracture at the edges whilst you're kneading it, you can add a little cold water, literally drop by drop, until it's back to a smooth consistency. Knead it until the dough is silky and elastic, stretching nicely.

Wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to rest. Longer, if you've time.

When it's rested, give it a little more kneading, to check whether you need to adjust the moisture. It's then ready for use.

Using it with a pasta machine

Don't put the whole dough ball through at once. Cut and roll into smaller balls, and use them one at a time. Apart from making the pressed lengths more manageable, you will often find that you made too much dough anyway once you've run it through the machine a few times, so you can rewrap the remaining dough and put it back in the fridge for another meal.

Set the machine to the widest setting, and keep running the pasta through the machine, one notch tighter each time, until you've got it to the thickness you need. Don't be tempted to skip stages here, as you won't get such good results. It takes as long as it takes!

When you're on the widest settings, don't be worried that your sheet doesn't quite reach the edges at first. It will, a notch or three later.

When you're putting it through the pasta machine, use the minimum possible dusting of extra flour to avoid sticking as the sheet folds, otherwise it will get too dry and fracture. Ideally, feed the sheet onto your work surface without folding too much. Cover with a slightly damp teatowel whenever you're not actually working the sheet, to avoid drying.

Fresh pasta made this way really needs only a few tens of seconds to cook if it's thin; maybe 2 minutes at most if it's thicker. Add a little more time if you've made ravioli and the filling has to be cooked through, of course. Ideally, pre-cook fillngs where possible, so they only have to be warmed through.

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