I bought my husband a pasta machine for Christmas – well it was a bit of a hint! Since then we have tried it out a few times. I think it is something that needs practice to get perfect or maybe it’s just us. It takes quite a while for the novice to do all the rolling that is needed and it is certainly easier to do if there are two fairly competent adults working together, rather than one frazzled adult and two small children. I need to work out the best way of storing the pasta between making it and cooking it so that I can make it in a more relaxed way, rather than trying to get it done quick because everyone is hungry. I think the way I need to do this is to hang it over wooden spoon handles balanced carefully somewhere, but I am not sure that with the girls’ high level of interest in homemade pasta that it would stay balanced for long. So far we have placed the freshly made pasta on a plate sprinkled with semolina but this just hasn’t been effective enough, with the pasta inevitably clogging together.
What we all agree on though is that the pasta that we make tastes much more delicious than any dried pasta or indeed any fresh pasta that we have bought from the supermarket. It has a much denser but somehow silkier texture and you can really taste the eggs. The girls love making it, they stamp out their own choice of shapes, ranging from teddy bears to hearts (see the pic below). They love eating it too, which is great because they are always asking for pasta and this is so much better for them than the dried variety and a good way to sneak some more eggs into their diet.
We just need more practice to perfect our technique and find a way of storing the pasta for that short amount of time between it being finished and it being cooked. If anyone has any advice that they can offer I would be very grateful.
The recipe I use is based on that in The River Cottage Family Cookbook which advises 1 whole egg per 100g (40z) flour or for a really egg-rich pasta use 2 egg yolks per 100g (4oz) flour. However, because I use eggs from our own chickens they tend to vary in size and be a little smaller than supermarket bought eggs so I find that for two adult and two children portions I use 300g (12 oz) flour to three whole eggs plus one yolk. What you need to achieve is a slightly sticky dough that with kneading will become smooth and elastic.
Now, I am far from an expert pasta maker but this is what we have been doing to make some very delicious pasta, if not exactly as perfect as we hope it will become with a bit (or maybe a lot) more practice.
300g plain flour (or use ’00’ flour if you can get it)
3 whole eggs (or 6 egg yolks, see my note above)
Place the flour into a bowl and make a hole in the centre. Crack the eggs into the hole and using your hands mix the dough to combine, it should be very slightly sticky. Knead the dough for about seven minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a bowl and cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for fifteen minutes. If you are using a pasta machine put it on its widest setting and roll the dough through, fold and roll through again and repeat this a few times and then roll the dough through each setting until it is as thin as you want it. You can now make it into whatever shape you crave. You can, of course, roll the pasta using a rolling-pin, but it is quite hard work.
Put a large pan of salted water on to boil and when it is boiling plunge in the pasta. If it is freshly made it will take a minute or two to cook, if you made it a few hours previously then it may take a little longer. When it’s cooked, drain and dress with your favourite sauce.