The Beginner’s Guide to Making Pasta

by Jo

It feels so good when you add another string to your bow! For me, this has been learning to make my own pasta from scratch. Let’s face it, buying pasta is pretty damn convenient, cost effective and perfectly tasty. So I’ve made it thirty-odd years without ever having to think about making my own.

But as we know, food isn’t just about needs. It’s about wants and desires too. Knowing how to make as many things as possible from scratch is very important to me in being a really good cook. Besides, there’s something far more magical in your own creations Vs store bought.

As someone who has recently gone from first timer to real enthusiast I thought I would share my own journey into pasta making to help anyone who is starting out or thinking about it. I hope it helps!

Minimal Ingredients & Equipment

What makes pasta so incredibly accessible is how little you need to create it. Flour, eggs, some weighing scales and a rolling pin are the very minimum you require, making fresh homemade pasta an option for most occasions. We tend to have all these staples stocked up in our homes at all times. I love that now I know how to make pasta I don’t need to be governed by whether the pasta jar is full or empty.

How Much Per Person?

Ah the famous question! How much pasta is a sensible portion? Well with homemade pasta the rule is wonderfully simple: typically 125g flour and 1 egg per person. I find that this makes a sensible portion for a regular meal. However, if you were making pasta for a dinner party it might feel a little stingy, so for special occasions I recommend adding another portion’s worth for every 2 people. Nothing worse than everyone enjoying your pasta and running out!

How to Make The Dough

Add your flour to a clean counter surface and create a well in the middle. Crack your eggs into the well. Using a fork, break up the eggs and begin to incorporate flour from the edges. Keep doing this until you have a very loose mixture, at this point its time to ditch the fork and get involved with your fingers!

Add flour on top of the mix and press in with your finger tips. Keep repeating until a dough has formed and once enough flour has mixed, you can begin to knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. This should happen after a few minutes of kneading.

Note that you might not incorporate all of the flour into the dough; some will need to be discarded where it has dried with bits of eggs and created hard crumbs. You don’t want these going in your dough.

Pasta Machines Are Not Completely Necessary

You do not absolutely need a pasta machine for making pasta; you can make it by just using a rolling pin. I will say though, it is a real work out! Pasta dough is very elastic so it can bounce back a lot, and for a lovely pasta texture you need to get the dough very thin; you should be able to see the shadow of your hand behind the rolled dough.

But if you aren’t afraid of some hard work it is perfectly doable. Once it starts to get quite thin I like to hold the dough with one hand and roll with the other to create a bit of stretch and stop the dough from bouncing back. This is similar to what you do when passing dough through a pasta machine.

00 Flour is Not A Necessity

00 flour is typically milled in Italy and is the traditional flour used for making pasta. It has a much finer consistency which aids a silkier texture to your pasta. I can assure you though, that plain flour works absolutely fine and your pasta will not be a disaster if that’s all you have to hand. Please don’t let this hold you back from having a go!

Pasta Dough Dries Quickly

I’ve noticed that you need to work quite quickly with it, as it dries out rather fast! This isn’t such an issue for strands like tagliatelle, but for styles that involve sticking the dough together such as ravioli, it can make it a little tricky.

To tackle this I portion my dough out and work in smaller batches. I find this speeds up the time I spend working the dough (smaller definitely more manageable for manual rolling!) and the dough I’m not working with stays fresh, wrapped in cling film until I need it.

Ravioli is My Favourite

Ravioli is by far my favourite to make, I find the process incredibly fun and the results just delicious! I soon learned that you must resist over-filling your ravioli, and it doesn’t take much to do it! A small teaspoon’s worth is more than enough. A heaped teaspoon will cause them to burst in the water when they cook!

The width of two fingers can be used to space out your ravioli filling. When you have folded over the pasta dough it is important to mould around the filling, and press out any air. Trapped air leads to (you guessed it) burst raviolis.

To cut ravioli, you can use a knife to form the squares, then press the edges using a fork which also creates a nice pattern. I started out this way but have since moved on to using a ravioli stamp which I much prefer; it creates lovely uniform pieces and it’s also really fun! I bought this one from Amazon which was less than £5. You can pick from square or circle shapes – whatever you prefer.

Your Pasta Will Cook Quickly

Additional time spent making the pasta is gained back in how incredibly fast fresh pasta cooks. Three minutes in salted, boiling water is all you need. Use a large pot to give your pasta creations room to move and remove from the water once cooked using a slotted spoon… for me it feels nicer to treat your homemade pasta in a more gentle fashion than chucking it into a colander to drain like I would with store bought.

Pin it For Later

I hope this was helpful for anyone looking to start out in pasta making. Pin this image for later so you can easily find this guide again. Happy pasta making!

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