How to Make Pasta

I have trouble making my pasta “the authentic way”. That is, mounding up my little flour volcano, dropping eggs in the center and beating them up with a fork. I always get a breach in the wall, which sends partly scrambled egg spilling out all over the place. I don’t like the mess, but even more than that I don’t like raw egg seeping into my wooden board. Not being Italian, I can say nuts to tradition and simply use a bowl.

Of course I could go all the way and employ a food processor for my dough mixing and kneading, but there’s a compelling logic to mixing and kneading by hand. Specifically, that with the hand method the dough only takes up as much flour as it needs, rather than having a pre-measured quantity of flour forced into it.

So, to begin. Normally I use 3 eggs which usually translates to about a pound of pasta. Here I’ve got four since my buddy John’s hens are still just getting going, and are laying little “pullet” eggs at the moment.

Scramble them in the bowl as quickly as you can, incorporating flour steadily from the sides.

When the dough is slack and shaggy, it’s time to remove the whole mess to your dough board:

Kneading is a simple matter of flattening the dough out in front of you with your palm…

…folding it back…

…then giving it a quarter turn.

Repeat and repeat and repeat. In a couple of minutes you’ll have something that looks like this:

…but don’t stop there. You want to press on (no pun intended) until you’ve got something smooth and firm, like so:

Wrap it tightly in plastic and set it aside for half an hour to allow the flour to fully absorb the moisture. At that point you’re ready to turn it into whatever you wish.

Quite a number of recipes call for adding a teaspoon or so of water to the dough at the mixing stage. Personally, I tend not to do this since pasta that’s too moist has a tendency to stick together when it’s cooked. But then even a little water can make your dough smoother and easier to roll. I dunno, it’s up to you. More on rolling and cutting soon.

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3 Responses to How to Make Pasta

  1. Julie A. says:

    Just thought I’d give a suggestion on preventing noodles from sticking to each other. I learned this tip from my Italian in-laws. Simply drizzle a bit of olive oil into your pot of water before you put the noodles in. This will coat the noodles and help prevent them from sticking to each other.

    • joepastry says:

      That does help, thanks Julie! Also making sure to boil your pasta in a large quantity of water keeps residual, boiled-out starch (which is sticky) from becoming too concentrated, and re-settleing on your pasta when you drain it.

  2. Pingback: Wrestling with Ravioli | Editor Eats

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