Cooking's a great hobby to have. Everyone's gotta eat, which means dedicating time and money to preparing food whether you like it or not. Enjoying cooking is like some kind of tax exemption from domestic drudgery — dinner doesn't get in the way of a relaxing evening, it's part of it. If only I could get into ironing in the same way.
Fresh pasta would be one of those recipes that would have most people saying, "Sorry Tim, I've got work at 8 am tomorrow and I'm not spending my entire Tuesday evening making a bowl of fettucini". Well I'm not going to do that either, but necessity is the mother of invention. And for me, it is absolutely necessary to eat the best food without wasting time or expense.
Now, this doesn't mean cutting corners. Here's what's going on in pasta dough (simplistically): flour and egg are combined, and kneaded to develop gluten. The traditional method has worked for centuries, but it's only one way. I use a food processor, adding half the flour at first to get a sticky dough that stretches, developing the gluten in the same way that kneading does. There comes a point where the dough becomes so dry that the processor stops stretching and just chops it up, but I've tried both ways and any difference is imperceptible. Try both ways yourself, if you don't believe me.
Fresh pasta dough, two ways
Ingredients (per person for a main course. It scales up well.):
- 1 egg
- 100 g plain flour
1. Crack the egg(s) into a food processor, and add roughly half the flour. Process for about 15 seconds until the mixture becomes a gummy, sticky mess, then process for another 30 seconds.
2. Add the remaining flour 1/4 at a time, processing for 20 seconds each time to fully incorporate. Once all of the flour is added it should take on the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.
3. Turn the mixture out onto a board and push it all together to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and stand for 30 minutes before using.
The regular way
1. Pile the flour onto a large board or benchtop, and make a well in the middle. Crack the egg(s) into the well, and whisk the egg briefly to combine yolk and white.
2. Using a spoon or your finger, gradually incorporate flour from the edge of the well into the egg mixture. Once half of the flour is incorporated, mix the rest of the flour in and form into one dough.
3. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until it becomes smooth but elastic (it will be quite a firm dough, but it should spring back if you poke it with your finger). Wrap in plastic wrap and stand for 30 minutes before using.