This lockdown recipe comes from Mario & Valentina, the owners of Casa Umbra and other beautiful houses around Todi, in Umbria. The horse gazing in helpfully is Rio.
1 pound (450 grams) sifted all-purpose flour (farina 00) 5 medium or large eggs Extra flour for dusting and adjusting
Sift the flour onto a large wooden board. Form something that resembles a low, broad volcano with a very deep crater.
Break the eggs into the crater. Pierce the yolks with a fork and use the fork to incorporate them into the flour. Incorporate the liquid from the center outward. The walls of the crater will keep the liquid from running out.
When the liquid has absorbed enough flour that you now have a messy, wet dough surrounded by flour, knock what's left of the volcano in toward the center and begin to knead with your hands to incorporate the rest of the flour into the dough. Scrape up all the remaining flour and the dough bits and squeeze them into the dough.
Plant your feet firmly on the floor and the heels of your hands firmly on the dough in front of you. With all your strength, and leaning in with your whole body, push the dough forward hard with the heel of one hand, then with the heel of the other hand. Then fold it over and continue the movement.
After each completed movement, give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Keep this up for 30 minutes, or as long as you can stand. As you work, the dough may seem dry, but you don't want it to be wet and sticky. It needs just enough moisture to hold it together, not a drop more. If your dough is so dry that you are quite sure it will never hold together, you can add a teensy bit of water. Your goal is a single smooth loaf of dough that is not sticky to the touch.
Once you have a beautifully silky loaf of dough, let it rest for 30 minutes. Wrap it in foil, or just place it on the board and invert a bowl over it until you're ready.
When the dough has rested, you can proceed to the next stage. Depending on what kind of pasta you want to make, this may involve rolling and cutting to make a pasta sheet (sfoglia) or pulling pieces directly from the loaf of dough and shaping them by hand.
You can even roll your own spaghetti by hand, making uneven little rolls that locals call "Pici" and are delicious. Or Pappardelle, wider, flat strips of pasta that are ideal with a rich meat sauce like Wild Boar sauce (though I'm not sure Waitrose deliver joints of wild boar meat nowadays) or Ragú.
As a rule of thumb, here are the widths of the flat pastas:
Tagliolini are 1 to 2 millimetres wide - tricky to cut
Fettuccine are 3-5 millimetres
Tagliatelle are from 4 millimetres to a centimetre, while anything over a centimetre is generally classed as a
pappardella (plural Pappardelle).
Making pasta like this hard work, so make sure you have a bottle of red wine to hand to slake your thirst, and to blame for the wonkiness of any pasta produced! For more sauces have a look at our other "Lockdown Recipes".
To cook your fresh pasta, just pop in boiling water like you would with pre-made pasta - but be aware that it will cook much faster. Where dried pasta normally takes 9-10 minutes, fresh pasta will be ready in 90 seconds to 3 minutes.