15 July, 2011

Homemade Pasta (school holiday amusement)

A few months ago I bought an Atlas pasta maker and it has sat in it's box in the cupboard ever since! Expensive piece of rubbish maybe? NO!!!! Not any more anyway. I think I was just scared by the thought of making my own pasta? You CAN get pasta makers a lot cheaper but they are just that..............cheap!! From the stories I have been told anyway. I ventured there once, bought a cheap one, took it out of it's box and took it straight back to the store (after putting it back in it's box of course) for a refund. It had the bubble wrap moulded in to the body of the machine and you couldn't change cutting mechanisms. Nasty little waste of money.

Anyway, I decided today was the right time to use my investment. School holidays (well if you can call them that when you homeschool) and a bored 12yo boy on my hands made it the right time. Playdough is now a bit juvenile for him, pasta is similar to playdough AND you get to eat the result plus one of his favourite hobbies is eating.

I haven't made pasta by hand since I was married to my first husband (gee that would be about 30 years ago maybe?) and then it was SERIOUSLY by hand...no machines, no gizmos, no gadgets. Today I used a food processor for the dough and the pasta machine to roll and shape the dough. I would at least recommend the food processor to anyone reading this though to be honest the whole lot CAN be done by hand.

The result was delicious and hence the reason why the pasta maker is going to get a lot more airing from now on.......even by the said 12 year old who has vowed HE loves fresh pasta enough to make it himself! He did enjoy it but we'll see how long it takes him to realise that it could take away from his computer time!

I also made a bolognese sauce like I've never made before, with milk and cream, trying to stick to the authentic recipe from Bologna. Seeing so much love went in to the pasta the sauce all of a sudden became very important as well.

So here is the pasta recipe for those who feel like getting back to nature or becoming an Italian Mamma! Gosh I envy anyone who grew up in Italy with a mum who made everything from scratch! One of the photos is me looking very much like a big mamma!!!!

Basic Pasta Recipe
4 generous servings
(if you don't want to make it for 4 the ratio is 1 egg to 3/4 cup plain flour)

3 cups plain flour
4 eggs
2 large pinches of salt

In a Food Processor:
Put the flour and salt in the food processor, add the eggs one by one down the chute till the mixture forms a ball
Take dough out of the processor and knead for 2 to 3 minutes
Wrap in a teatowel to prevent a skin forming and rest for 15 minutes

By Hand:
In a large bowl (or on the bench) mound the flour and make a well in the middle
Add the eggs and salt
Use a fork or your fingers and slowly start blending from the middle, working more and more of the flour in to the egg mixture (you may need to add some water to make the dough the right consistency for kneading)
When it is all combined knead for about 5 minutes
Wrap the dough in a teatowel and rest for 15 minutes

For the pasta machine:
Cut the dough in to 5 or 6 even amounts, roll each in to a ball and squash it a bit
Run each ball through on the widest setting (on my machine it is 1) 3 times, then fold the pasta in thirds (see photo) and run it through on 1 again. Repeat the folding and running through another 5 or 6 times (on 1), till the dough feels silky
Put the machine on 2, run the dough through
Put the machine on 3, repeat
Keep going till the dough is as thin as you want it, right down to 9. I stopped at 5
When the dough is as thing as you desire use the cutters
Tonight I made tagliatelle

IF you are doing it by hand the same "silky feel" applies, keep rolling and folding and rolling and folding till it feels right and you have it as thin as you desire
To cut hand rolled pasta in to strips (ie tagliatelle) leave it to rest for a little bit till it's a bit drier or it might stick then roll each sheet up like a jam roll and slice along the length (this is how I did it 30 years and 3 marriages ago!)

Hang the finished pasta over a broom handle between 2 chairs or lay it out on a teatowel to dry a little bit before cooking.

Fresh pasta takes a lot less time than dried pasta to cook.

Bring a very large pot of well salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook for about 5 minutes, checking by tasting it, till cooked. It won;t go as "mushy" as supermarket dry pasta and you will really all of a sudden understand the meaning of "al dente"!!


  1. Yours looks soooo much thinner than mine! I now really do understand "al dente", I was almost to the point of cooking it for too long before taking it out, luckily I didn't! LOL

  2. Funny, with homemade pasta it is easy to cook it al dente and rather hard to overcook it. it is more forgiving of cooking times. With dried cheap commercial pasta it is so easy to overcook it. I think the homemade stuff gives you more leeway.