Basic Homemade Pasta
With this easy recipe, I find if you take your time and have fun making it you will get the best results. Expect to have flour over the counter, on the flour and over your clothes – so an apron is recommended. Plus invite your partner, children and friends to help you make it. This is where memories are made.
2 ½ cups of Plain flour (00 flour is the best)
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon water
4 eggs at room temperature
Extra flour for kneading and dusting
1. Sift the flour and salt together onto a clean work surface. Use your hands to shape the flour into a circular mound. Make a well in the centre. Mix the water into the eggs to loosen. Place the eggs in the well and use a fork to lightly whisk. Use your fingertips to gradually blend a little flour into the egg mixture. Working with your fingertips, continue to gradually draw the flour into the centre (being careful the egg mixture does not run out of the well) until the mixture forms a dough.
NOTE: To check if the dough is the right consistency, press a clean, dry finger into the centre of the dough. If it comes out clean without being sticky, it is the right consistency. If not, knead in a little more flour and test again, but not too much.
2. Lightly flour the surface if necessary. Firmly knead the dough by using the heel of your hand to firmly push down into it and then away from you. Lift the dough with your fingertips and fold it back on itself towards you. Turn the dough a half turn and repeat. Continue and repeat. Continue kneading the dough for 6-7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Kneading is an important part of the pasta-making process as it develops the gluten in the flour, giving the pasta a firm, tender texture. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and wrap each portion in plastic wrap or cover with a clean, damp tea towel. This will prevent the dough from drying out. Set aside for 10 minutes to rest. This helps make the pasta more pliable and easier to roll out.
3. Attach a pasta machine to the side of a workbench and adjust the machine’s rollers to the widest setting. Spread about 4 clean, dry tea towels over the work surface close to the pasta machine. Unwrap a portion of dough and use the palm of your hands to flatten it into a rectangle. Dust the rollers with flour and roll the dough portion through. Dust again with flour and repeat on the same setting. Fold in the shorter sides of the dough to meet in the centre to form a smaller rectangle and feed through the machine again. Repeat this process 5-6 times or until smooth.
4. Reduce the width between the rollers by 1 and roll the dough through as before. Repeat the process, reducing the setting each time until the dough is 1-1.5mm thick. The settings on all pasta machines vary. The last setting on some machines may roll the dough too thin, resulting in it sticking to the rollers and tearing. So be careful to only reduce the setting and roll the dough until it reaches the desired thickness. Slice pasta to preferred size.
5. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Salt increases the boiling point of the water and enhances the flavour of the pasta. Add the pasta and stir occasionally to stop the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Don’t add oil to the water, as this will stop the sauce from clinging to the cooked pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente, which is Italian for “to the tooth”. To test this, remove a piece of pasta from the pan and take a bite – it should be cooked but still slightly firm in the centre. Drain, but don’t rinse the pasta, as this will wash away the starch that is needed to absorb the flavours of the sauce.