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Basic Pasta Dough

This Nigella Lawson recipe has brought me a great deal of success so I repeat it here. The secret I have found is to put the dough through each setting of the pasta machine at least twice, folding the sheets back on themselves as you go. On the smallest setting put the dough through at least 4 times so that it is really smooth and silky. When you have made the sheets and cut them as you want dust them with flour to prevent them sticking together while they dry.

 Foodideals - Fresh Pasta doughIngredients:
400g Italian 00 flour
fat pinch salt
4 eggs
Splash olive oil

Method:
Either put the flour (with the salt) in a bowl and crack the eggs into it, or make a mound of flour on a worktop and add the eggs to that. I don’t bother to beat them before adding them to the flour, but if you prefer to, then add them gradually, do. Just find the way that you prefer. All you do is mix the flour and eggs together, and then knead the mixture until it all comes together in a satiny mass. Kneading involves no more than pushing the mixture away from you with the heels of your hands and then bringing it back towards you. If you’ve got an electric mixer with a dough hook, then do use that, but for some reason I don’t find it makes the pasta cohere any sooner. And you don’t get the relaxing satisfaction of making it by hand.

FoodIdeals - homemade pastaWhen the pasta silky and smooth, form into a ball, cover with a cloth and leave for 30 minutes to an hour. Then get out your pasta machine, read the instructions and away you go. Two tips first: cut each slice you want to feed through the pasta machine as you go, and put through the no 1 press quite a few times, folding the strip in half and pushing it through again after each time. When the pasta dough’s been fed a few times through the no1 slot, pass it through the remaining numbers on the gauge, before pushing it through the tagliatelle-cutters. And I find that the pasta strips cut into tagiatelle better if you leave them hanging over the table or wherever to dry a little first (10 minutes is enough).

When you cook the pasta, make sure you’ve got plenty of boiling salted water and start tasting immediately the water comes back to the boil after you’ve put the pasta in.