Monday, November 3, 2008

Make It Yourself - Pasta

I know what you are thinking, why in the world would you make your own pasta. Noodles are so cheap! Well, you are right! But I still find reasons to make homemade pasta!

I learned to make pasta years ago (that makes me sound so old!) from Anna, an elderly neighbor. We had lots of extra eggs and she volunteered to show us how to make noodles. She brought her little hand crank pasta maker with her and we enjoyed our first taste of homemade pasta. Wow!!! Store-bought noodles just can't substitute! I rarely make noodles now. Not that they are difficult to make but I don't have an unlimited supply of eggs. Hopefully, by next year we will have our own chickens, and then maybe fresh pasta will become a regular part of our diet. I've heard that Italians "make poetry with pasta", different regions specializing in different types of pasta. An Italian homemaker will make fresh pasta daily. I doubt I'll ever even make it weekly but I know that my husband loves in homemade pasta, so for now it is something special I can do for him.
12 egg yolks
2 cups flour
2 T water

I've never seen a recipe using only the egg yolks. Most use the whole egg, which would certainly stretch your eggs further. You could use half, or less eggs if using the whole egg. But using egg yolks is the way Anna taught me. We always enjoyed using the egg whites to make angel food cake. So at our house, homemade noodles for supper usually means there is an angel food cake waiting for dessert!
Most commercial American pasta has no eggs and is made with Duram flour and water.
Various types of flour may be used. I've successfully used all whole wheat flour but on this day, I was just using white flour. Two cups is only guide. Depending on the size of egg, the type of flour, or the humidity of your house, you will need to use more. You may add salt but it might make the dough dryer. I prefer to add salt when cooking. I have added herbs to the dough just for appearance!

Beat the egg yolks in a bowl with the water.
Pour the beaten egg over the flour. Stir well.
The dough will be very stiff. You will eventually need to work it with your hands.
And yes, it is rather messy!
Add additional handfuls of flour, if needed. Keep working the dough until you have a nice smooth ball of dough. That looks better!
My mom found a pasta maker at a yard sale for me. This enables me to roll it out very thin. But when I wanted to share this recipe, I figured that few of you have a pasta maker sitting in your attic, so I made pasta using only a rolling pin and knife. It worked surprisingly well. I sure wouldn't go out and buy a pasta maker unless you are a serious pasta maker. My husband couldn't tell the difference between the hand rolled and cut pasta, and the machine rolled and cut pasta.

Hand Rolling:
Cut a thin slice of dough off the side of the ball of dough.
Flatten the dough with your hand and sprinkle with flour.
Roll the dough as thinly as possible.
Dust with flour as needed.
Lay the strip of dough on a fabric tablecloth to dry.
Or hang the strips on a wooden accordion clothes dryer.
You want the strips to dry but not become brittle. They should have a slightly rubbery texture.
Keep checking the strips. Depending on the humidity of your home, it will take 30 min to 1 hour.

Lay your strip on the table and cut into desired width.
A pizza cutter may work for you.
I found the fastest way was to fold the strip several times, and cut on a cutting board with a sharp knife. If the noodles are not cutting cleanly and still sticky, dry a little longer.
Second drying:
After cutting, spread the noodles on cookie sheets to dry throughly. You don't want to pile them too deep, keep the noodles spaces thinly.
You want to the noodles to dry completely to keep from spoilage. A warm sunny spot is best for drying. A wood stove is excellent. Properly dried pasta should keep a long time, but I usually put them in the freezer just as a precaution. They don't stay there long!

Of course, you can skip this step, throw the fresh pasta in boiling water and eat immediately! I prefer to keep the sauce very simple so that we can fully enjoy the flavor of homemade pasta.

And just in case you have access to a pasta machine - here is directions.

Machine rolling:
Cut a thin slice of dough off the side of the ball of dough.
Flatten the dough with your hand and sprinkle with flour.
Set your machine dial to the widest thickness.
Crank the dough through the machine.
Set your machine dial to the next smallest thickness and again roll.
Continue through each thickness (most machines have 6 or 7) getting an increasingly thinner and longer strip.
You may wish for a thicker pasta and not roll as thin as the machine could make it. Dust the strip with flour as needed.

Dry as with hand rolling.
Machine cutting:
Most machines have two blades so you can choose between two sizes of noodles.
Change the handle to your choice of blades, crank the pasta strip through the machine.
This is on the thick blade.
And this is with the thin blade.
Dry on a pan as with hand cutting.
And here is my diligent helper! Children love to help!
Sometime, I'd like to try making homemade cannelloni, ravioli, or tortellini. I have recipes but just haven't been brave enough to try it. Anyone know an Italian granny that would take on an apprentice?


  1. I make my own pasta that we LOVE, but it only takes 3-4 eggs. I would never be able to make pasta if I had to use this many eggs, but I'm sure it is very good.

  2. I have always wanted a pasta roller thingamabob.. I would really like to get one..we are pasta people..

  3. Oh it looks good. I have a pasta roller but I have never used it yet. I might become brave and do this soon.


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