Making Pasta from Scratch
Believe it or not, making fresh pasta at home is not as hard as it sounds. Proper measurement of ingredients is the key to great pasta. It can be made entirely by hand, or more easily with a food processor or stand-up mixer. It is imperative that once the pasta is made, it is allowed to rest for a period of time so the gluten in the flour can relax before being worked. Allowing the dough to rest results in pasta that is much more pliable and easier to work with when rolled and shaped.
Below is a full list of the utensils/tools needed to make pasta from scratch:
- Clean work surface: Large cutting board or surface used to mix the dough
- Mixing bowls: Used to hold flour or used to mix the dough if you don't like working directly on a work surface
- Rolling pin: Used to roll out the dough
- Stand Mixer with a Dough Hook attachment: Used for mixing and kneading the dough together
- Food Processor: Used for mixing and kneading the dough together
- Pasta Roller and Extrusion attachment: Used for rolling out sheets of dough. An extrusion attachment can be used to form different length and widths of noodle shaped pastas
- Pasta Wheels/ Pasta Rollers/ Pasta Cutters: These tools can be used to form different shaped pastas and stuffed pasta like ravioli.
Typically the following ingredients are used to make pasta from scratch: Flour, eggs, salt, water (sometimes milk and oil are used instead of water or in addition to). Here is a very basic recipe for making pasta:
- 2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling the pasta
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- Water, if necessary
Making pasta dough by hand
The first step to making pasta by hand is to combine the ingredients, creating the pasta dough:
- On a clean work surface or in a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt in a mound.
- Next, create a little hole or well in the center of the flour-salt mixture.
- Add all three whole eggs to the center of the well and whisk together with a fork to scramble the eggs.
- Slowly begin bringing a little flour at a time to the center of the well.
- It will take a few minutes to incorporate all of the flour and eggs so take your time and enjoy the process.
- Watch as the dough begins to change form from a wet mixture to a more sticky mixture.
- Once the mixture has come together as a sticky ball of dough you can stop here.
- If you find the dough to be too dry, sprinkle it with 1 tablespoon of water and mix again quickly.
Next you want to begin kneading the dough onto your work surface. You may want to add a little more flour to the work surface if you find that the dough is too sticky to work with.
- The trick is to fold the dough into itself over and over again.
- The dough will require at least 5-10 minutes before it will come together completely.
- The dough is done being kneaded once the sticky dough becomes supple and smooth.
- Now it is important to let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes (or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 1 day, but be sure to thaw the dough before you begin to roll it out).
Making Pasta Dough with a Machine
If you want to use your food processor or stand mixer, simply add the flour and salt to the machine and turn it on low to mix. Keep the machine running as you pour in the eggs and then pulse just until the dough comes together. Add water if necessary and then kneed the dough by hand the rest of the way if using a food processor or kneed the dough with your machine if you are using a stand mixer with a dough hook.
Shaping the pasta dough
Using a paring knife cut the dough into quarters and work with each individual quarter at a time. Cover the pieces of dough that you are not using and begin rolling the dough out on your work surface using a rolling pin. You can continue to roll it out with a rolling pin if that's all you have or you can set up your tabletop pasta roller if you want to use that tool. Get the dough to about 1 inch thickness and then begin feeding it slowly through the tabletop pasta roller. Continue to feed the dough through each of the sizes of the roller until you get it to your desired thickness. If you want to make long noodle pasta then flatten your dough with the pasta roller to the 6, 7, or 8 setting.
For shaped pasta you can stop at a thicker setting. At this point you can cut the pasta dough using a pasta wheel/ pasta roller/ pasta cutter or the extrusion attachment on your tabletop pasta roller. Continue to roll out the remainder of the dough before cooking. Pasta comes in an infinite number of shapes and sizes and whether the shapes are straight or curvy, hollow or solid, flat or raised, so experiment and have fun with the process!