It feels like an age since my last post. Amidst moving home and lending a hand to the already hugely successful Hart and Fuggle pop-up restaurant I haven’t found the time to write much. The new flat is cosy and light and has a kitchen that I simply don’t deserve, but which I look forward to spending as much time in as possible (pop-up is coming, watch this space).
Now that I had the room to do it, I felt it right to celebrate the move by making some pasta, something I hadn’t done in a long time. The Food Urchin recently had a bit of a shocker in the pasta department, and it struck me how something so simple was so fraught with potential trip ups. It is easy to get rather Hestonesque about it. The ratio to be employed is 100g flour (tipo 00 ideally) with 65g egg. Not 1 egg. 65g egg. This seems to go against everything I stand for in the kitchen, but in this case pedantry is necessary. So weigh your flour, then weigh the egg, or contents of the egg. Unless you plan on hoying the shell into your dough.
If the egg is a little under 65g then add enough water to compensate. Equally, if it is over, add a little more flour. Now, if your kitchen is particularly humid then you will need a smidge more flour. In a dry kitchen you’ll need a little more liquid.
Making the pasta
NB: I’m doing double quantities here.
– Tip the flour onto a clean work surface with a pinch of salt.
– Make a well in the centre and tip in your egg.
– Take a fork and whisk the egg, slowly incorporating the flour. Once you have got as far as you can go with the fork, start bringing it together with your hands until you have a dough. Knead for 10 minutes until it feels like a stress ball. If you have kneaded the dough correctly you should not need to add any flour when rolling.
– Wrap the dough in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
– If you are not using a pasta machine, flatten the dough on a clean surface (have some flour at the ready just in case, but try to avoid using). Starting in the middle of the dough, roll away from you once, then back towards you from the centre. Turn the dough 45 degrees and repeat. Turn and repeat until you have a dough through which you could read the newspaper.
– If you have a machine (and I’d recommend one), roll the dough starting on the lowest setting. You may have to cut it in half about half way through the process.
So up until this point it had all gone well. The theory that a properly kneaded dough kneaded (sorry) no added flour held true and I went ahead and cut the dough into tagliatelle. Something I had been taught in Italy (but by a Canadian, go figure) was that, unless using the pasta immediately, you should put it into bundles and into the freezer. Which is what I did.
When I came to cook the aforementioned bundles, they stuck together like teenagers at a disco. With a bit of nurdling with tongs I managed to extricate some of them from their saucy entwinements, but the end result was several strands of (admittedly successful) tagliatelle with a whole lot of lumpy dumplings. Verdict: either use the pasta immediately, or hang the strands separately on a rail until needed.