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Joke pasta


Photo: Joke pasta

Photo: Joke pasta

Having bought a very smart pasta machine, I made my first pasta last night. It was a dismal flop. Instead of soft delicious ravioli I made nasty miniature chewy hot water bottles. The filling was tasty though.

I tried making it using a 400g well of flour “00” on the worktop. I broke four large eggs into the centre of the well and began to combine the eggs with the flour. Easy peasy until the eggs started to break through the wall of the well and cascade towards the edge. I managed to save some of the egg mixture whilst Inca and The Contessa guzzled the egg splosh that had escaped to their level.

I should really have started again. But being a pasta making newbie assumed that I could guess how many eggs I had lost and just add more. I reckoned that I’d lost about one so added another to the bobbly dough. It looked far too dry so I added another. This made the dough too wet so I added more flour. I skipped most of the kneading bit as I reckoned passing it through the machine several times would do the work for me. So I slapped it around a bit, wrapped it in cling film and popped it in the fridge for half an hour whilst I did the watering.

The flattened ball didn’t look very promising and bucked a bit at being forced through the machine a few times. It was too dry on the outside and too soggy on the inside. So the concertina of rolled pasta remained just that. I was getting rather alarmed at this stage. Was I making puff pasta?

Eventually I managed to make two long strips of pasta that looked more like pastry. I daubed on the filling and cut out the ravioli parcels. Plunged into a large saucepan of salted boiling water, ravioli is supposed to rise to the top when it is cooked. Mine lay at the bottom in a heap. Eventually we hauled them out and attempted to eat them.

So this morning I cruised the internet for advice and suggestions. I found this recipe from Mark Hix, it gave me loads of pointers as to where I’d gone wrong. I’ve decided to dedicate an afternoon to pasta making next time.

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  1. Sally Millington

    Living 450 metres up an Umbrian Hillside means that instead of buying pasta we usually make it. Indeed practice makes perfect…but no intricate equipment is needed. First , try smaller quantities. 100 grms per egg…but dont expect to integrate it all into the dough. Use a bowl and you will not lose the egg. Add a desert spoon of olive oil to the egg. Use a fork to get the soft dough together , then use finger tips.If you are using a pasta machine then divide the dough you get from the above quantities and keep half in a sealable bag, whilst yu work on the first section.Start on 7 ( largest gap on my machine) and go up and down the numbers (7-5) folding the dough at least three or four times dusting with flour each time. Don’t add any flour when you get towards the final roll ( on my machine 3)
    For Ravioli use a strip about 30cms by 10 cms. Put filling every 2cms. Dampen one edge with water then fold over and put a knife handle to keep one end open. Next use a cupped hand on edge, from the opposite end press down the ravioli expelling the air towards the knife end. Then cut with fluted cutter. Repeat using all the dough and this quantity should make about 30 ravioli i.e enough for two people.

    Key points are to get the pasta as thin as possible. Keep the air out of the pockets and use as soon as possible….or freeze immediately and cook from frozen.

    Alternative to all this is come and visit us in Umbria and I can give a hands on demonstration!
    Best wishes

  2. Michelle in NZ

    Sweetheart – my dear Dad uses a little mixer (the one that came with his stick blender), then ensures it is all squished together okay with his hands. Next -& bestest – cover and pop it into the fridge for half an hour, or at the least cover and leave for half an hour.

    He worked out this methpd after several years of trying. He has a pasta machine to do the rolling out. To use this he has to open the dishwasher as the bench above it is the only one that is the right shape!!

    sending happy pasta thoughts, Michelle (Zebbycat snoring again)

  3. The last time I made pasta I ended up trying to reach some extra flour on the top shelf and knocked it straight onto the floor! The whole room was white except for where my feet had been!
    It took me longer to clean up than it did to make the pasta!

  4. My first attempt was a soggy mess for all the work I put into it! The pasta was rolled to thin and I froze them together instead of separately at first. It ended up tasting like lasagna without the sauce. Next time!

  5. Toffeeapple

    Oh dear! Glad you saw the funny side though. I have never tried to make pasta, it’s always seemed way too much effort for me.

  6. I would recommend making the pasta in a mixer. I used the dough hook on our kitchen aid to make the pasta. You need to leave it running for a while to kneed it properly – it needs to be very elastic-y. The run it through the machine repeatedly until it is smooth and thin with no air holes.

    It is so satisfying when you serve fresh handmade pasta for a dinner party starter.

  7. haliwerfolc

    An Italian friend told me that for ravioli the pasta should be thin enough to see through. That advice worked for my ravioli – no more chewy pasta (it tasted lovely) unfortunately about 50% of the filling ended up in the water.

  8. Ah yes, pasta making…I came to the conclusion that it is something best learned from toddlerhood.
    In the end I gave up and passed on my pasta machine- too much space in the cupboard for too little use. It was always such a major undertaking to make pasta and once my daughter was past the “oooh goody pasta making” stage and into the “do I have to?” stage it really wasn’t fun any more!

  9. Thanks for that. I have a pasta machine and they suggest a recipe using semolina – maybe that will help

  10. That is so funny. I’ve had the same problem with the eggs spilling out from the well.

    Practice makes perfect though.

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