Rolling/Shaping Pasta Dough

 Fresh pasta is achievable even if you don’t have a pasta machine, as there are some options for handmade pasta – such as trofie – which are equally delicious. If you don’t have a pasta machine, I would not both with trying to use a rolling pin – it is simply not worth the effort.

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: Around 40 minutes


Ingredients

+ 1 quantity of basic pasta dough
+ Many clean tea towels
+ Additional flour and/or semolina

Method

By hand:

Lightly flour your work surface and start making the pasta, in this instance – trofie. Tear off small pieces of dough about the size of an olive and using the palms of your hands, quickly roll them backwards and forwards so that they develop a spiral shape. Allow the trofie to drop onto the floured work surface to rest, while you prepare the sauce.

With a pasta machine:

The pasta machine takes a lot of the hard work out of any attempt to roll, and stretch pasta by hand. It still takes some time, but it is the far superior method.

If you have placed your dough in the fridge, allow it to return to room temperature. In the meantime, clear all available bench space you have – you will need it before long. Before you start rolling, knead the dough quickly a couple of times to remove any excess moisture. Then, prepare your dough by dividing into the number of portions you made. Take one portion and, with the palm of your hand, flatten the dough so it will fit through the widest setting on the machine. Keep the remaining portions of dough covered in cling wrap so they don’t dry out.

Set the machine at the widest setting. Feed the dough through and then fold itself – as you might fold a business letter – pressing lightly to eliminate any bubbles of air. Feed the dough through another three or four times until it is the same width as the machine, folding it in thirds each time. Feed the dough through one last time and, without folding it, lay the sheets on a nearby tea towel then repeat with the remaining portions of dough. Do not let the sheet touch, or they will stick together.

Now you are ready to stretch the dough. It is handy at this point to have an assistant to manage the pasta sheets, as they become longer and more unwieldy. If they become too long to manage, you can cut them with a knife to the desired length.

Working with one portion at a time, move the setting on the machine down one notch and feed the sheet of pasta through. Keep reducing the setting a notch and feeding the sheet through, thinning the pasta until you have reached the last or second last thickness setting.

When you have rolled all the sheets out, you will need to start cutting them straight away as these will dry out very quickly. Start by cutting the pasta sheets into manageable lengths (25-30 cm), covering any part of the pasta that is waiting with a clear damp tea towel to protect it from the air. Unless you are making lasagne or a filled pasta, follow the instructions below.

  • If cutting with a machine attachment, lightly flour the sheets before passing them through. Once cut, gently unravel the pasta and place on a lightly floured tea towel. Sprinkle with a little more flour or semolina and continue with the next sheet of dough until all are made. Cover the finished pasta with a damp tea towel if you think they are drying out too much, or alternatively sprinkle with a little more flour if they seem to be sticky. If you wish to dry your pasta, roll into loose nests for easier storage.
  • If cutting by hand, flour and lightly roll each sheet into a loose cylinder, then using a very sharp knife, cur through the dough at the required intervals. Then unravel and follow the instructions above.
  • Common pasta widths include: Tagliolini 2.5 mm, Tagliatelle 5 mm, Fettuccine 8 mm-1 cm, Pappardelle 2.5 cm, Lasagnette 3 cm.

Original recipe from The Art of Pasta.

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