Monday, April 28, 2008

How to Make Fresh Egg Pasta Dough

Now that I've had my pasta roller for a while, and made a few batches of fresh pasta, I'm ready to share the recipe I used. If you've got others, I'd love for you to post them. Mine originally came from Julia Della Croce, but I modified it slightly after watching Chef Todd English on Chef's Story.

It may not seem like it, if you've read the post on the first time I used my pasta roller, but I'd made pasta fresca before. Early last year I made it, more or less regularly, using an extrusion machine. The drive shaft for the extruder got lost somewhere (that's what I get for having my kids do the cleaning up) and I've not used it since. I don't think the results were as good, though. I suspect it has to do with the gluten not developing right during kneading.

Julia Della Croce says that you shouldn't use semolina flour, often marketed as pasta flour. She likes a fine 00 white flour, or all-purpose flour. I use all-purpose flour because it's easier to find in the local grocery store. If you like the flavor of semolina flour, I'd recommend trying different ratios of all-purpose flour, and semolina flour. That's what I'm going to start trying, anyway. In this case, I'm using just a touch at the end.


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for dusting your work surface)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (optional)
semolina flour (just enough for the rolling process)

Combine the eggs and oil in a food processor, and pulse two or three times until mixed. Add the flour, a little at a time, until a until the dough starts to ball up. You may not need to use all the flour. If you can't get it to ball up, after all the flour has been put in, add one tablespoon of water and pulse once. Proceed to the next step.

I'm using a food processor to get things started because I've not mastered mixing the dough together on the counter without getting it all over the floor.

Remove the dough from the food processor to a lightly floured work surface. Gently knead the dough until you get a very soft ball. It should be firm enough to handle, but very pliable. Work in a little more flour if you need to. You want it to be soft and responsive, but not sticky.

Using the heels of your hands, flatten the dough ball and knead it from the middle outward, folding it in half after working it each time. Knead both sides, trying to maintain a round shape, until the dough is even and elastic. This should take about ten minutes.

Cover the dough with an inverted bowl or plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 15 minutes, or up to three hours. If it's going to be more than a half hour, I'd recommend refrigerating it.

Try using whole wheat flour along with the all purpose flour. I use 2 cups wheat flour, to 1/2 cup white flour, or sometimes just whole wheat flour. It creates a soft and mildly nutty pasta that's great with light sauces. Heartier sauces mask the delicate flavor.

Next time, we'll go over how to roll and cut the dough, so stay tuned.

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