Doughn't go breaking my heart: Fresh Pasta Dough

 Fresh Pasta Dough in the making Note: you might want to take any rings off... mine are currently full of flour and egg...

Fresh Pasta Dough in the making
Note: you might want to take any rings off... mine are currently full of flour and egg...

Like bread, making homemade pasta brings me back to rainy days stuck inside the cottage playing with the one thing my mom has always been an expert at making: homemade Play-Doh.  Somehow, when occasion would strike and we’d be stuck inside with a summers’ day worth of energy, she would turn a couple of packets of Kool Aid into this amazing smelling, brightly coloured dough that we could spend hours and hours playing with.

I, always being rather kitchen-inclined, would knead the dough and shape it into any sweet treat I could dream up while my brother sat next to me mashing every colour together until he was left with a big muddy looking mass…  We’re different, my brother and I, but there are a few very strong similarities that we do possess.  A doofy laugh, some cocktail knowledge, lanky limbs, and an undying love of pasta.

I, always being rather kitchen-inclined, would knead the dough and shape it into any sweet treat I could dream up while my brother sat next to me mashing every colour together until he was left with a big muddy looking mass…  We’re different, my brother and I, but there are a few very strong similarities that we do possess: a doofy laugh; ample cocktail knowledge; lanky limbs; and an undying love of pasta.

Making homemade noodles might seem a bit daunting and, yes, it is a bit more of an undertaking than tearing open a box of dry rotini on a Tuesday night but it is oh so worth the effort.  I've scaled this recipe to serve two as I find it's perfect for a date night meal but feel free to multiply the recipe to serve more.

If you can't find '00' flour in your grocery store, all purpose will work just fine.  The two flours have similar protein/gluten levels (between ~10-12%) and are therefore pretty interchangeable when used for fresh pasta.  The main difference between the two is that '00' has been more finely milled thus resulting in a slightly better texture.

Now, don’t be daunted by the length of the method below.  In addition to detailing a method using good old-fashioned elbow grease, I've also included a couple of different tactics for making the dough using a little help from some handy dandy kitchen equipment. 

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting some of my favourite sauces, fillings, and pasta shapes so stay tuned!  In the meantime, give this a whirl, roll it out thin either by hand or with a pasta roller, and cut into long, thin noodles – it’ll be perfect draped with carbonara or my favourite tomato sauce.


Fresh Pasta Dough

Serves 2

1 cup + 2 tablespoons ‘00’ or all purpose flour, plus a bit more for kneading
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp olive oil

Dump the flour onto a large work surface and sprinkle with salt.  Using you hands, gently mix the salt through and create a well in the centre of the mound.  Crack the eggs into the well, being careful not to let them spill out over the edge.  Add the oil and, using a fork or the tips of your fingers, beat the eggs and oil together and begin to incorporate the flour by pulling it in from the inner wall of the well. 

Once the mixture becomes a bit shaggy and tricky to work with, start using your hands to knead the dough into a cohesive ball.  At this point, set the ball of dough aside and discard any scraggly dry bits and flour that is left over.  I typically have about 1 – 2 tablespoons of refuse at this point so don’t feel the need to try to incorporate everything. 

Bring the ball of dough back over to your work surface and continue kneading for about 8 – 10 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth, adding a dusting of flour when necessary.  Wrap the dough in some plastic wrap and set aside to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling, cutting, shaping, drying slightly, and cooking.

 

If you’re looking for a bit of a tidier method, feel free to use your stand mixer or a food processor. 

For the stand mixer approach, combine the flour and salt in the bowl of your mixer and create a well.  Crack the eggs into the well and add the olive oil.  Using a fork, whisk the eggs and oil together and incorporate the flour until a shaggy dough forms.  Fit your mixer with the dough hook attachment and knead on low for about 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.  As with above, if a few tablespoons of flour are left in the bottom of the bowl, no worries!  Cover the dough with plastic and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before using.

For the food processor approach, toss the flour and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  Crack the eggs into a glass measuring cup, add the oil, and give it a whisk.  With the mixer running, slowly pour the egg mixture through the chute and blitz until it all comes together into a smooth dough.  Remove the dough from the processor, leave any scraggly bits behind, and give it a bit of a knead for about 4 or 5 minutes, adding flour when necessary.  As with above, allow the dough to rest covered in plastic for 30 minutes prior to using.