The quantities in this pasta dough recipe will make enough for four people.
400g/3 cups/14oz flour*
4 large eggs – I like to use good free range eggs. The flavour is better and the deep orange of the yolk adds great colour to your pasta.
When learning how to make pasta, the most common question people have is what flour to use. A good quality Italian 00 flour or a durham wheat flour makes the best pasta. You will find it in Italian delis or some health food shops. If you can't get a good pasta flour, you can use plain (all purpose) flour though the results won’t be quite as good. A better alternative is a mixture of plain (all-purpose) flour and semolina. A ratio of about 2/3 plain to 1/3 semolina works well.
1. Place the flour on a table or large board and make a well in the centre.
2. Break the eggs into the centre and use a fork to beat the eggs, gradually mixing in the flour until you have a smooth sticky dough. As you mix, you may find it easier to use your hands to bring all of the mixture together.
3. Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic in texture. If you find that it’s too crumbly, you can add a few drops of warm water. Now wrap the dough in clingfilm or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
Now you're ready to start rolling so take out your pasta machine!
In theory you can make pasta with just a rolling pin. But if you want to achieve a good thin consistency and an authentic texture, a pasta machine is essential.
Remember a pasta maker should last a lifetime, so if you are buying one, go for a strong classic machine like the Marcato Atlas Original Italian Pasta Maker pictured here.
This machine has an excellent reputation. It has been, and continues to be, one of the most famous and consistently popular pasta machines on the market.
Another highly recommdended and well-known pasta machine is the CucinaPro 150 Imperia Pasta Machine. A top quality heavy duty model, this is another excellent buy.
Whichever model you buy, there are lots of attachments available which allow you to make a huge variety of pasta shapes.
2. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each one into a ball. Take one ball, flatten it and sprinkle with flour. Pass it through the pasta machine rollers.
Fold the dough in two, sprinkle with a little more flour and pass it through the rollers again. Repeat this two or three more times. You’ll notice that the texture of the dough improves as you roll.
If all of this rolling sounds too much for you, you can use a motor attachment like the Imperia Pasta Machine Motor that will make the whole process easier and faster.
3. Now reduce the width of the rollers on your pasta machine by one notch and pass your pasta sheet through again. Now repeat this process, making the rollers narrower each time until your pasta is nice and thin. If you feel that your pasta is losing its shape, just fold it over to make a neat rectangle, widen the rollers and run it through again. As you roll, your pasta sheet will start to get very long and you can cut it in two if you want to.
4. Finally cut your pasta to the desired shape. Your pasta machine will probably come with a cutter attachment for spaghetti or tagliatelle.
It’s very satisfying to watch the strips of pasta appearing – “the magic bit” as my little girl calls it. Just remember to dust your pasta sheet with flour before you pass it through the cutter.
You can also buy attachments for your pasta machine to make all kinds of interesting shapes. A ravioli attachment I think is especially useful and fun to use but the options are limitless. Once you start making your own pasta, you may just hooked.
Fresh spaghetti or tagliatelle will cook in 2 to 3 minutes in boiling water so watch it closely to maintain a good al dente texture.
Sprinkle the pasta liberally with flour, place it in a freezer bag and store in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. You need to do this immediately to prevent the pasta from drying out.
The pasta will also freeze for up to 3 months in the freezer. Prepare it as above, by sprinkling it with flour and placing in a polythene bag. Defrost the pasta dough thoroughly before you cook it.