Posts Tagged ‘homemade pasta’

Italians are tough.

When I mentioned to one recently that I’d watched Stefano Manfredi make pasta from scratch in fifteen minutes, she replied, “Fifteen minutes?  He took five minutes too long!”

This astounded me, because pasta has always been our culinary bugbear.  Pete and I have tried to make it on several occasions, and always ended up with a kitchen covered in flour and a pasta machine clogged up with dough.

It now seems that (surprise, surprise) we’ve been overthinking the whole process.  We’ve tried with continental flour, then remilled semolina flour, then added oil, boiling water and so forth, and each time we’ve ended up with a clumpy mess.

So we decided to try again using Steve Manfredi’s method. After all, it’s hard to argue that something is impossible when we’ve witnessed it with our own eyes.

I tipped 400g of plain (AP) flour into a large mixing bowl and cracked in four fresh eggs.  The amount of flour will depend on the day – factors such as humidity, the hydration of the flour and ambient kitchen conditions will all impact on the finished dough.  Manfredi suggests starting with slightly less flour and adding more as needed (I, of course, forgot that bit).

I squelched the flour and eggs together until combined, but didn’t knead it.  Then I cut the dough into quarters and started feeding it through the thickest setting on the pasta machine.  This kneads and conditions the dough – feed it through the rollers, fold it in half and feed it through again, and keep repeating until the dough is smooth and pliant. Fold the dough in whichever way is necessary to fit your pasta maker – our machine is small, so we alternated between folding it lengthwise and crosswise. Dust with flour if necessary to stop the dough sticking, and resist the urge to narrow the rollers before the dough is well kneaded.

Once the dough is flexible and smooth, start reducing the roller setting and feed the pasta through until it reaches the thickness you’re after.  Keep dusting with flour as you go.  We put ours through until it reached the number “6” notch on our machine.

We found this easier to do with two sets of hands – Pete cranked the handle and I manoeuvred the dough as it grew longer and longer with each pass. The finished sheet was dusted with flour, rolled up loosely, and cut into thick tagliatelle.

We cooked the pasta immediately – no drying or resting time required – and as it was so fresh, it only needed a minute in salted boiling water (Manfredi suggests just thirty seconds!). We served it with a simple black olive and tomato sauce, and it was sublime

The whole process was ludicrously easy and surprisingly tidy.  Plain (AP) flour was much easier to work with than the stronger semolina or continental flours.  However, we didn’t manage to put dinner on the table within the prescribed thirty minutes – I think it was closer to forty and it took the combined efforts of both of us.

Just as well we’re not Italian!

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Everyone has their culinary bugbear – some can’t bake cakes, others struggle with pastry, and many are put off by tempering chocolate.  For us, it’s always been homemade pasta.  That’s not to say we haven’t thrown time and money at trying to get it right, but each attempt has turned out stodgy, floury and brittle.

So it was with some trepidation that we decided to try a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s new cookbook, Plenty.   But oh, we were so delighted with the results!  The pasta was mixed in minutes in our large food processor, and passed easily through the rollers and cutters without the usual shredding and crumbling.

We began with four eggs from our girls, and gifts from friends – a small box of saffron from James and a knob of turmeric that Diana grew in her backyard.  The recipe specifies ground turmeric, but Di’s fresh version was too good to pass up.

The finished dough was a glorious golden yellow…

  • 440g pasta flour or 00 flour
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (80ml) boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 scant teaspoons saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (we used grated fresh)

1. In a medium sized bowl, soak the saffron threads in the boiling water for ten minutes, then stir in the turmeric and olive oil.  Add the eggs and beat well to combine.

2. Place the flour in the large bowl of a heavy duty food processor and, with the motor running, gradually pour the egg and oil mixture through the chute.  Pulse the food processor until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and start to come together.

3. Tip the dough and any loose flour onto a clean bench and knead briefly until smooth.  Wrap snuggly in a plastic bag, and then rest the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to one day.

4. Cut the rested dough into four pieces, keeping three covered as you work the first one. Shape the small ball into a long rectangle, then pass it through the rollers of a pasta machine, starting with the thickest setting.  Pass the sheet through, fold it, and pass it through again – repeating this process a few times to give the dough strength.

5. Once the pasta is elastic and doesn’t tear or crumble through the rollers, gradually reduce the  settings until it reaches the desired thickness.  Flour the thin sheet of pasta well, then either cut it into strips with a knife, or pass it through the cutting blades of the pasta machine.  Hang the noodles up while you process the remaining dough – we used a laundry rack, but I think tradition dictates a wooden dowel supported between two kitchen chairs!

This pasta cooks in mere minutes in salted boiling water, and we served it with slivered almonds, mint, parsley and the spiced butter and shallot sauce which accompanied the recipe in the cookbook.  Truly superb vegetarian fare!

PS. We’ve repeated this recipe without the turmeric and saffron and found it works perfectly well for “everyday” egg pasta.  The quantities given above make approximately 750g of pasta dough.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

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As part of our egg de-glutting, Joanna suggested this choc-orange marble cake by Suelle at Mainly Baking.  Unlike butter cake versions, this one is moist and tender, thanks to the addition of almond meal.  And it used up six large eggs!

Pete felt I’d “overswirled” – he maintains that marble cakes should have clumps of flavour rather than ribbons, but I was more than happy to trade that for the gorgeous loops of colour in the cut slices!

Suelle’s recipe is here, and I sized it up by 50% to suit my 10-cup bundt pan.  It resulted in a very large cake, which was cheerfully shared around the neighbourhood.

Still on the topic of eggs – this morning I took Sue’s advice and made some egg pasta, seen here drying on our laundry hanger…

It made a delicious lunch topped with mushroom and garlic sauce!

Last night I turned our leftover kugelhopf into bread and butter pudding for Pete’s cousin Jono…the sweet kugel suited the dish perfectly…

And finally, here’s Pete’s delicious custard-based ice cream, flavoured with Dutch cocoa and dark Belgium chocolate.

Egg glut?  What egg glut?

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