Culinary Anthropologist

Basic fresh egg pasta dough

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Fresh pasta dough can be made with just flour and water, or with a mixture of eggs and water, with whole eggs and/or egg yolks.  The more egg you use the easier the dough will be to handle and cook, and the more yolks you use the richer its golden colour will be.  Use genuinely free range eggs, as it is the hens’ diet of green things which makes their egg yolks orange.  If you don’t have special ‘OO’ (very fine) pasta flour ‘di grano duro’ (made from hard wheat, with high protein content), you can use regular plain flour and it will still work. I recommend the pasta flour available from Shipton Mill.


Recipe:  Egg pasta dough.pdf

Makes:   approx 600g (enough for 8 starters or 4 main courses)

500g ‘typo OO’ pasta flour
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
semolina flour

  1. Mound the flour onto a clean work surface and create a large well inside so it looks like the crater of an exploded volcano.  Crack eggs and the extra yolk into the well and add a generous pinch of salt.  
  2. Use a fork to whisk the eggs, then start bringing in the sides of the crater and incorporating flour.  Keep mixing until you have a thick paste.  At this point it may be easier to use your hands to knead in the remaining flour.  Incorporate as much as possible – you want a stiff, smooth dough.  If it seems too dry, sprinkle over a little water using your fingertips.  Knead for 10 minutes – it will become smoother.  
  3. Cut the dough in two and wrap each piece tightly in clingfilm.  Set aside for 30 minutes.  If you like, you can make the dough several hours in advance, even the night before, in which case keep it in the fridge.
  4. Assemble your pasta rolling machine and unwrap a piece of dough.  Lightly dust a large area of work surface next to the machine with flour.  Squidge the dough into a rectangular block, with one end tapered so that it can fit into the machine.  Dust it with a little flour.  With the machine set to its widest setting (usually 1), roll the dough through.  Fold it in three like a business letter, prod it all over with your fingertips to seal, and repeat the process, feeding one of the open ends into the machine first.  Keep repeating until the dough is smooth and silky.  If it is sticking to the rollers you need to dust with more flour.  If it is cracking up it may be getting too dry and you should use less or no flour.  
  5. Now feed the dough through each of the settings, getting thinner each time, until you get to the thinnest (usually 6).  You only need go through each setting once, and this time don’t fold the dough between rolls.  You should end up with a long, thin sheet of fine pasta, the width of the machine.  
  6. Sprinkle plenty of semolina on a lined baking sheet.  Cut the pasta into your desired shape and store on the baking sheet dusted with extra semolina so that the pieces don’t stick.  Cover with clingfilm and let rest for half an hour before cooking.  Or keep it in the fridge and use within a day or two.
  7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt.  Shake any excess semolina off the pasta and boil until al dente – usually just a few minutes.  Unless your pot is huge you may need to do this in batches so as not to crowd the pasta.  Drain pasta and let steam dry for a minute to remove excess moisture.  Toss with your prepared pasta sauce or simply drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or meted butter and grind over some black pepper.

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