My very first attempt to make fresh pasta dough can be chalked up as a dismal failure. I was barely thirteen at the time, insisted on being bought a pasta machine for my birthday, which I would use all the time. Reality painted a very different picture.. the dough just jammed up in the rollers, and what exited the other end was some pretty awful chewy output. Not my finest hour by any measure, so bad in fact I never tried again. I suspect my first pasta machine made its way to a charity shop. Fast-forward three decades, and having accrued a fair amount of dough making experience by making bread, the desire to make homemade pasta returned. As a further incentive, I had Marlini on standby to help with the production line, and during the initial Covid lockdown pasta had disappeared off the shelves due to panic buying. This Fresh Egg Pasta with Cuttlefish Ink recipe is a significant improvement over my endeavours in the 1990s!
We have found several fresh pasta dough recipes, and after trying a few iterations landed on a good approach which has produced consistently good results. As ever, it never takes too long to start to adapt. After a couple of attempts (the first time mistakenly not adequately flouring sheets of rolled dough resulting in them getting stuck together) – we got better. It was also a great team effort in the kitchen for Marlini and I as we ventured into production line mode. Two relatively capable bodies makes this a lot quicker. The other point I wanted to make is that in so many other recipes we have seen they dollop a mound of flour on a surface, create a well, and drop the eggs in the centre- maybe it is my technique, but it is one messy approach. Flour went everywhere – to the untrained eye, it could have used on the set of the cocaine fuelled film, Scarface. Our far less theatrical approach is to use a large mixing bowl and silicone spatula to get the dough evenly mixed into a ball, before transferring to a silicone mat for kneading.
Credit for the basic recipe entirely goes to Marcato, we adapted the recipe to blend in the Cuttlefish Ink.
After first experimenting with a more standard egg pasta recipe (why run, before we can even crawl, right?) we were really keen to start to experiment and try more creative versions. We have made spinach pasta (another recipe for another time) but the type we really wanted to try at home was black Cuttlefish Ink Pasta (Nero Di Seppia in Italian) and were surprised by how easy this was to make. Thankfully, I didn’t have to grapple with an angry Octopus or similar- I can highly recommend Nortindal’s Cuttlefish Ink – it comes in a jar. It is very economical to use- one heaped teaspoon to make 500g of fresh egg pasta.
If you are unable to find Cuttlefish ink, or it is not to your taste, you can simply omit it and make normal fresh egg pasta. The technique is very much the same.
Fresh Egg Pasta with CuttleFish Ink Fettuccine
- Pasta Machine
- Silicone Mat (optional)
- Pasta drying rack
- 250g g soft-wheat "00" flour sifted
- 250 g durum wheat flour (semolina)
- 250 g whole eggs and water approximately 5 eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp cuttlefish ink heaped
- Weigh the eggs and add a little water (if required) to make up to 250g. Pour into a blender, add the cuttlefish ink, and blitz for a few seconds.
- Sift both the "00" soft-wheat flour and durum wheat into a bowl, make a well in the centre, and pour in the egg/cuttlefish ink mixture. Mix thorougly with a fork to thorough blend together.
- Knead dough with hands until completely smooth and consistent for about 5 minutes. If too try, add water. If too wet, add more flour. Perfect dough should never stick to your fingers.
- Once you have a firm dough ball, dust with flour, put in a plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 mins
- Remove from refrigerator, and place on silicone matt. Roll into a fat squared suasage shape, and divide evenly into 6-8 pieces. (this will dictate the length and width of the pasta). Flatten each piece to slightly less than the width of the paste roller, and dust liberally with semolina flour. This is a really important step as it prevents the roller from clogging up.
- Set the adjustment knob on the pasta machine to '0', turn crank handle clockwise, and feed piece of dough through the rollers.
- Lightly dust both sides of pasta sheet again with semolina flour, and fold pasta in half. Feed again twice until the shape is log and regular. Cut the pasta sheet in two, and dust again with semolina.
- Lightly dust surface (I use a large non-stick silicone rolling matt) with semolina flour, ready to place the rolled pasta sheets on top.
- Set adjustment knob to position 1, pass pasta sheet once more, then set to 2 pass pasta sheet through again and continue incrementally until you reach position 6.
- Carefully place sheet on previously dusted surface, and dust with more semolina flour.
- Repeat until all sheets have been rolled to knob adjustment position 6. You may want to square of the ends of the pasta sheets with a knife so that each piece is more even.
- Transfer the crank handle to the cutting accessory (in my case, Fettuccine), and feed the pasta sheet through the roller to cut it.
- Pick up the pasta using a rod , and carefully transfer it onto one of the arms of the pasta drying rack. Ensure you allow a little space between the cut pasta ribbons to stop them sticking together.
- Allow the pasta to dry for about 1-2 hours (depending on temperature and humidity), and store if not using at the same time, store in a large ziploc bag and place in a refrigerator.
- Do not use cold eggs out of the fridge.
- Salt should not be added to the dough.
- When you cook fresh pasta, put in a large pan of salted water.
- Freshly cut pasta can be frozen, but always consume within a month.