How to make fresh egg pasta

When making fresh home-made egg pasta, variously known in Italian as pasta fresca or pasta fatta in casa or pasta all’uovo, I usually make life easy for myself by using my trusty KitchenAid mixer to form and knead the pasta dough and then the pasta attachments to roll out and cut the dough into various pasta shapes. An easy to remember rule of thumb is to use 1 egg per 100g of flour for each person. If you are using imperial measurements, the rule is 1 egg per cup of flour per person. These rules of thumb, however, are not at all exact, as the results will depend on the exact size of the egg, the quality of the flour, even the humidity in the air, so be prepared to adjust as you go along.

Pour the flour into the mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and the egg(s). To make the rolling and cutting easier later on, you can add a drop of oil, before adding the eggs although purists frown on this. Attach the dough paddle.

How to make fresh egg pasta

 Turn on the mixer mix at slow speed (setting 1 or 2) until the the eggs are well incorporated. The dough may look rather crumbly at this point, but not to worry.
How to make fresh egg pasta
Switch to the dough hook and continue to mix, first continuing at a slow speed, then turning it up a notch to a moderate speed (setting 3 or 4) until the dough sticks to the hook and—hopefully—forms a smooth surfaced, uniform ball. But depending on various factors, including the exact size of the eggs and the ambient humidity in your kitchen, one of two things may happen: either the ball will be very sticky and wet, in which case you can add a bit more flour until the dough becomes firmer, or the dough will remain too dry to form a ball, in which case you can add a bit of water.
How to make fresh egg pasta

You can use more or less the same method for making pasta dough in a normal food processor: Add you ingredients to the processor bowl and pulse until they form a ball, making adjustments if need be as described above.

You can also form the dough the old-fashioned way, entirely by hand: pour the flour in a mound on a spianatoia or other dry surface, then make a well in the middle of the flour (this is called a fontana, or fountain, in Italian). Add your eggs, salt and oil into this fountain. With a fork, begin to whisk the ingredients in the well, incorporating the flour at the sides of the well little by little. As the mixture becomes too dense to mix with your fork, begin to use your hands to incorporate more and more of the flour until you have a ball of dough.

Place the dough on a spianatoia or other dry surface and knead it by hand for a few minutes until the dough has reached the right consistency, smooth and pliable and yet still firm. (If you find that the dough is too wet, sprinkle it with flour and knead the additional flour into the dough.

How to make fresh egg pasta

Then allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes wrapped in plastic wrap or a plastic bag. This rest will ‘relax’ the dough and make it much easier to work with, but if you lack time, it is not an absolutely necessary step.

Then put the pasta roller attachment on the mixer (or a pasta ‘machine’), set at the widest setting and, taking a piece of dough corresponding to one of the eggs used to make the dough (in other words, if you used 3 eggs, cut the dough into three pieces), flatten it out with your hand or a rolling pin and then pass it through the roller, which will turn the dough ball into a rather thick sheet.

If the pasta has a smooth consistency (which is should if it has been properly kneaded and rested) then lightly flour the pasta sheet, turn the roller to the next, slightly narrower setting. (If not, fold the pasta sheet and pass it through the widest setting once again, and repeat as needed.) Keep passing the pasta sheet through successively narrower settings, one by one, until you reach the thickness you want, which will depend on the kind of pasta you are making. Repeat the process with the other pieces of dough, which you will have kept wrapped in plastic so they don’t dry out.

For most kinds of pasta, such as tagliatelle, taglierini or fresh spaghetti, lay out the pasta sheet to dry on a towel or (my preferred method) on a baking rack. The rack will allow air to flow on both sides of the pasta, so it will dry more quickly and evenly. In either case, however, it is a good idea to turn the sheets over every once and while so they dry evenly; the top will always dry more quickly than the bottom, even when using the rack. The pasta is dry enough when it feels ‘leathery’ to the touch but not brittle. If it is not dry enough, the pasta stands will tend to stick together when you cut the sheet, while the dough will become unworkable if dries out. (If you notice that splits are beginning to open on the sides of the pasta sheets, then it is getting too dry, but if you act quickly enough, the dough can still be used.) With some practice (and a few inevitable misfires) recognizing the right degree of dryness will become second-nature.

Once dried to the right point, pass the pasta sheets through the cutting attachment of your mixer or pasta ‘machine’. The KitchenAid mixer pasta set, as well as most pasta ‘machines’, come with two cutting attachments, one for thin pasta like spaghetti or taglierini and one for ribbon pasta like tagliatelle or fettuccine. (The one for thin pasta will be the roller with cutting blades at narrow intervals looking something like a comb.) Other pasta shapes need to be cut by hand.

As the pasta sheet passes through the roller, catch the strands of pasta with your open hand and gently hold them up so they do not fold onto each other. Lay them out on a floured surface (or back on the rack). Depending how thick the pasta sheets are, it is possible that some of the strands will stick together. If this happens, then you can just gently pull the strands apart. It’s a bit tedious but not too difficult.

For stuffed pastas like ravioli, however, you do not want to allow the pasta to dry, but rather you need to work as quickly as possible. The pasta should remain moist, so that the top and bottom of each pasta ‘pillow’ sticks together. See the recipes on this blog for specific instructions on rolling out and cutting particular types of fresh pasta.

Notes

The best kind of flour for making most kinds of fresh pasta is called farina “OO”. It is made with a soft wheat (farina di grano tenero) that has been very finely ground and all impurities removed. (In Italy, flours are categorized from “OO” to “O” to 1 and 2, going from the finest to the coarsest. Farina OO gives the pasta a lovely texture, somewhat firm but not nearly as firm as store-bought pasta. The problem with much so-called ‘fresh pasta’ that you may buy in stores outside Italy is that they are almost always made with semolina flour, which is the kind of flour used to make ‘industrial’ pasta like spaghetti, penne and the like. It gives the fresh pasta a hardness that is not characteristic of fresh pasta.

Farina “OO” is available in many Italian specialty stores, as well as (in the US) online. If you can’t find this kind of flour, regular ‘all purpose’ flour will do. And some cooks like to use a blend of all purpose and cake or pastry flour to try to approximate the texture of farina 00. Some cooks use pure pastry flour, which I have never tried but suspect would be too soft. I have not experimented with these blends, so I would not want to comment.

There are other sorts of fresh pasta that require other sorts of flour: orecchiette, for example, are made with a blend of semolina and all purpose flour. One of my favorite winter pastas, pizzoccheri, are made with a mixture of buckwheat and white flours. Individual recipes will specify the kinds of flour to use but, unless specified otherwise, you can assume that farina 00 is the flour you should prefer.

 

How to make fresh egg pasta

Total Time: 1 hour

How to make fresh egg pasta

Ingredients

    For each portion of pasta:
  • 1 egg
  • 100g (1 cup) flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • A drop of olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Using a standing mixer: Pour the flour into the mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and the egg(s). To make the rolling and cutting easier later on, you can add a drop of oil, before adding the eggs although purists frown on this. Attach the dough paddle.
  2. Turn on the mixer mix at slow speed (setting 1 or 2) until the the eggs are well incorporated. The dough may look rather crumbly at this point, but not to worry.
  3. Switch to the dough hook and continue to mix, first continuing at a slow speed, then turning it up a notch to a moderate speed (setting 3 or 4) until the dough sticks to the hook and—hopefully—forms a smooth surfaced, uniform ball. But depending on various factors, including the exact size of the eggs and the ambient humidity in your kitchen, one of two things may happen: either the ball will be very sticky and wet, in which case you can add a bit more flour until the dough becomes firmer, or the dough will remain too dry to form a ball, in which case you can add a bit of water.
  4. NB: You can use more or less the same method for making pasta dough in a normal food processor: Add you ingredients to the processor bowl and pulse until they form a ball, making adjustments if need be as described above.
  5. You can also form the dough the old-fashioned way, entirely by hand: pour the flour in a mound on a spianatoia or other dry surface, then make a well in the middle of the flour (this is called a fontana, or fountain, in Italian). Add your eggs, salt and oil into this fountain. With a fork, begin to whisk the ingredients in the well, incorporating the flour at the sides of the well little by little. As the mixture becomes too dense to mix with your fork, begin to use your hands to incorporate more and more of the flour until you have a ball of dough.
  6. Place the dough on a dry surface and knead it by hand for a few minutes until the dough has reached the right consistency, smooth and pliable and yet still firm. (If you find that the dough is too wet, sprinkle it with flour and knead the additional flour into the dough.
  7. Then allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes wrapped in plastic wrap or a plastic bag. This rest will 'relax' the dough and make it much easier to work with, but if you lack time, it is not an absolutely necessary step.
  8. Then put the pasta roller attachment on the mixer or a pasta 'machine', set at the widest setting and, taking a piece of dough corresponding to one of the eggs used to make the dough (in other words, if you used 3 eggs, cut the dough into three pieces), flatten it out with your hand or a rolling pin and then pass it through the roller, which will turn the dough ball into a rather thick sheet.
  9. If the pasta has a smooth consistency (which is should if it has been properly kneaded and rested) then lightly flour the pasta sheet, turn the roller to the next, slightly narrower setting. (If not, fold the pasta sheet and pass it through the widest setting once again, and repeat as needed.) Keep passing the pasta sheet through successively narrower settings, one by one, until you reach the thickness you want, which will depend on the kind of pasta you are making. Repeat the process with the other pieces of dough, which you will have kept wrapped in plastic so they don't dry out.
  10. For most kinds of pasta, such as tagliatelle, taglierini or fresh spaghetti, lay out the pasta sheet to dry on a towel or (my preferred method) on a baking rack. The rack will allow air to flow on both sides of the pasta, so it will dry more quickly and evenly. In either case, however, it is a good idea to turn the sheets over every once and while so they dry evenly; the top will always dry more quickly than the bottom, even when using the rack. The pasta is dry enough when it feels 'leathery' to the touch but not brittle. If it is not dry enough, the pasta stands will tend to stick together when you cut the sheet, while the dough will become unworkable if dries out. (If you notice that splits are beginning to open on the sides of the pasta sheets, then it is getting too dry, but if you act quickly enough, the dough can still be used.) With some practice (and a few inevitable misfires) recognizing the right degree of dryness will become second-nature.
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21 Responses to “How to make fresh egg pasta”

  1. 26 September 2011 at 06:11 #

    Shirlynn, As mentioned, just a drop—a teaspoon at most. You just want to give the pasta a bit of elasticity. Many people see adding oil at all as “cheating”so you can leave it out if you prefer, but it does make the pasta a bit easier to handle.

  2. Anonymous
    25 September 2011 at 23:38 #

    Hi Frank,

    How much oil do I need to add for a cup of flour?

    Thanks.
    Shirlynn

  3. 4 March 2010 at 11:39 #

    I've always wanted to make homemade pasta, but I always thought it was incredibly difficult and time consuming. As soon as I get the equipment I'll have to try it out.

    -Matt
    http://www.favedietsblog.com

  4. Anonymous
    22 November 2009 at 01:08 #

    It was rather interesting for me to read this post. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

  5. 17 November 2009 at 13:28 #

    thanks franck i am going now to take my pasta machine out from the cupboard ! Ciao Pierre

  6. 22 September 2009 at 20:01 #

    Vincent, Delighted to join Petitchef.com! Cheers, Frank

  7. vincent
    22 September 2009 at 14:18 #

    Hello,

    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM YUM.
    We would like to add it to the Petitchef.com.

    We would be delighted if you could add your blog to Petitchef so that our users can, as us,
    enjoy your recipes.

    Petitchef is a french based Cooking recipes Portal. Several hundred Blogs are already members
    and benefit from their exposure on Petitchef.com.

    To add your site to the Petitchef family you can use http://en.petitchef.com/?obj=front&action=site_ajout_form or just go to Petitchef.com and click on “Add your site”

    Best regards,

    Vincent
    petitchef.com

  8. 19 September 2009 at 17:08 #

    I brought mine back over when I moved from Italy, so I don't really know where to find one here. Did a quick Google search for “pasta board” and came up with link: http://www.fantes.com/pastry-boards.html. They call it a pastry board but it seems like the same thing.

    If you know someone who works with wood, I understand that they're actually quite easy to make.

    By the way, I saw in your blog that you roll out your own pasta with a mattarello. I have one too, but only do that when I'm feeling really ambitious–but you're right, the pasta you get is definitely superior. One day I'll blog about making pasta entirely by hand–that's the way Angelina used to do it!

  9. 19 September 2009 at 12:03 #

    Since you are talking about a spianatoia, do you know where I can buy one in the US? I use an old wooden table but it's not very practical. Maybe I could go to home depot and buy some wooden board? Where did you get yours?

    • Peggy
      27 October 2012 at 19:09 #

      I just got an extra ‘bread board or ‘cutting board’. (the kind that fits into your counters)

  10. 17 September 2009 at 20:33 #

    Thanks, everyone, for all the great comments. And, yes, Chef Shari, backlinks are always welcome!

  11. 16 September 2009 at 21:24 #

    I've never made pasta before and have honestly been scared to try. You've inspired me! I'm going for it!!

  12. 14 September 2009 at 02:57 #

    Nice Post!

  13. 13 September 2009 at 10:06 #

    awesome post! i have to find the italian flour to try this. thanks for sharing!

  14. Greig
    13 September 2009 at 01:07 #

    I have just discovered your blog, and I have just been given a pasta maker. So perfect timing. And the post was so useful. My first batch was successful – hand cut pappardelle to got with a rich ragu. Gracie.
    Greig

  15. 12 September 2009 at 19:20 #

    I've tried several times making pasta, but I can't say I've been successful. Your post makes me want to try again! The Julia Child's chicken dish looks great! I recently got her book, and I plan to try this dish, soon!

  16. 12 September 2009 at 12:22 #

    I love homemade pasta. Actually making pasta is fun though quite messy with the flour all over the place.

  17. 12 September 2009 at 10:51 #

    With a mixer is even easier!!! ;)

  18. 12 September 2009 at 08:27 #

    great post, thanks, I love my new Kitchen pasta attachments! If you don't mind, I may put a link on my latest blog, Fresh From the Sea and Saucy Like Me, since the scallops are served over fresh pasta.

  19. 12 September 2009 at 07:55 #

    I want a pasta maker…

  20. 12 September 2009 at 01:06 #

    A wonderfully comprehensive post!

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