Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fresh pasta

I haven't made fresh pasta for quite awhile, but I was feeling inspired by MasterChef so decided to get the pasta machine out and make pasta from scratch for dinner tonight. I employ the assistance of my stand mixer, my beloved pistachio green KitchenAid named Charlotte :), and also my DH. I used to just make a well in the flour on the bench, add the eggs into the middle, and then incorporate them as Jamie Oliver suggests, but in reality Charlotte makes the initial incorporation of the egg into the flour so much easier, and plus I love any excuse to put her to use.

So the recipe - very simple. 100g of flour: 1 egg. In this case, I did 400g of flour and 4 eggs. Jamie suggests 600g and 6 eggs for 4 people, though Nigella says 1 egg per person is sufficient. The sauce I am going to serve it with easily serves 6, but I think 4 eggs worth of pasta will be plenty. The best flour to use is a high protein flour, preferably Italian '00' flour, which is nice and fine. Normally what I have to hand is breadmaking flour, which is high protein, but as I had found 00 flour in my local Woolworths recently, I was able to use that today.

Here Charlotte is working the egg into the flour using the dough hook on speed 1.

Here you can see the pasta dough is starting to adhere. I usually take it out at this point and start kneading by hand on the bench.

Basically you just want to mix the flour and the egg and knead until it is smooth. If you were doing the whole thing by hand, then you mound the flour on the bench, make a well in the centre, and break the eggs into the well. You then start to draw the flour into the eggs until cohering and evenly mixed, and then start to knead. It needs quite a bit of kneading to work the gluten into long strands, and it is hard work! I like to think I am burning off some of the kilojoules I will shortly consume :P . Sometimes you need to add some extra egg (or a little water) or some extra flour. Here is the ball of dough after I had kneaded it until it was holding together and starting to get smooth. DH is stronger than me though and so jumped in and took over to get it to the point where it is at in the pic below.

This is where DH left it. I am sure some people could get it smoother still, but it is pretty smooth and elastic at this point, and will be more so still once it has been worked through the pasta machine. At this point, you want to cover the dough with plastic or a damp tea towel to prevent the dough from drying out and leave it to rest for 30 mins.

My Atlas Marcato pasta machine, which is what I use for rolling out the pasta, though you can use a rolling pin. Today I followed the instructions for rolling out the pasta in 'Cook with Jamie'. Break off an orange-sized piece of dough (half the dough in this case). Run it through on 1 (the widest setting) several times, each time folding it in half before rolling it again until smooth. Then run it through on 2, fold in half, then run through again on 1. Repeat this 4-5 times to work the gluten. Now run it through on increasingly smaller settings until you get to the thinnest setting.

Now fold the length of pasta in half again and again until you end up with a square. Turn it 90°, and run it through on 1 again, and then gradually down to the thickness you want the dough.

For some reason, DH decided my job would be to turn the handle while he manipulated the dough - turning the handle supposedly being the tricky part according to him - yeah right. In our house making pasta is a team effort.

The pasta sheet getting longer and thinner while DS2 supervises from his highchair.

The pasta sheet cut into shorter lengths (thirds) to make it easier to go through the fettuccine cutter and so the resultant strands of fettuccine aren't unmanageably long.


Finished fettuccine dusted lightly with flour to prevent sticking.

Cooked pasta. Fresh pasta is very quick to cook - just a few minutes.

Used to make Nigella's Greekish lamb pasta (Forever Summer).

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