Royal pasta dough
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This is definitely a royal pasta dough - silky, velvety pasta, made with a simple blend of Tipo 00 flour (00 means it's super-fine) and fine semolina, which has a wonderful flavour and golden colour. This blend of flours along with free-range egg yolks gives you the ultimate in pasta dough. And the best bit is, it's still super-cheap for the volume of pasta that it gives you. Enjoy this rolled or cut into a hundred different shapes, and feel the pride in making pasta yourself from scratch.
Of course the world of pasta is full of rules and old wives’ tales about what you can and can’t do, but throughout Italy, in every village, town and region, they all regularly contradict each other. This method will get you into a good place, but of course you can roll it out thicker for a thicker noodle, which will simply have to be cooked for longer. The most important question to consider is, does it eat well with the sauce you’re going to pair it up with? Only you can answer that. The sauce and the pasta shape should be in harmony – the pasta is equal to the sauce.
Pile the flour and semolina into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Separate the eggs and add the yolks to the well, putting the egg whites into a sandwich bag and popping into the freezer for making meringues another day. Add the oil and 4 tablespoons of cold water to the well, then use a fork to whip up with the eggs until smooth, then gradually bring the flour in from the outside. When it becomes too hard to mix, get your clean floured hands in there and bring it together into a ball of dough. Knead on a flour-dusted surface for around 4 minutes, or until smooth and elastic (eggs can vary in size and flour can vary in humidity; this dough shouldn’t be too wet or dry, but tweak with a touch more water or flour if you need to – use your common sense). Wrap in clingfilm and leave to relax for 30 minutes.
Traditionally, Italians would have used a very large rolling pin, and you can do it that way if you like, it just requires a large flat surface and a bit of elbow grease. In this day and age, I think it’s fun and advisable to use a pasta machine. Attach it firmly to a nice clean table and divide your pasta dough into four pieces, covering everything with a damp clean tea towel to stop it drying out as you go.
One at a time, flatten each piece of dough by hand and run it through the thickest setting, then take the rollers down two settings and run the dough through again to make it thinner. Importantly, fold it in half and run it back through the thickest setting again – I like to repeat this a few times because it makes the dough super-smooth and turns it from a tatty sheet into one that fills out the pasta machine properly.
Start rolling the sheet down through each setting, dusting with flour as you go. Turn the crank with one hand while the other maintains just a little tension to avoid any kinks, folds or ripples. Take it right down to the desired thickness, which is about 2mm for shapes like linguine, tagliatelle and lasagne. For anything turned into a filled pasta, such as ravioli and tortellini, go as thin as 1mm because when it’s folded around a filling it will double up to 2mm.