Pile 400gm plain or “00” flour onto a dry (preferably wooden) surface. Form a well in the centre and add 4 eggs and 1 tsp olive oil. Beat the eggs and oil with a fork and slowly incorporate flour by scraping against the flour wall.
Colours and flavours Depending on the desired colour and flavour, add 10-15gm beetroot or broccoli powder, or 5-10gm chilli, charcoal or paprika powder to flour before mixing. For squid-ink pasta, add 1/2 tsp squid ink to eggs before mixing.
Note Vegetable and charcoal powders are available from select health-food shops. Squid ink is available from select fishmongers.
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Knead dough until smooth and elastic (15-20 minutes). Kneading develops the gluten – the dough should bounce back slowly if you press on it. Wrap it in plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 15-30 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 5 days.
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Divide dough into four, then, working with one piece at a time (cover remaining dough with plastic wrap to stop it drying out), flatten it with a rolling pin or the palm of your hand, dust lightly with flour and gently feed it through the pasta machine, starting at the widest setting.
Fold the two ends of the dough towards each other, then rotate dough 90 degrees and feed through the pasta machine again (this is called laminating, and creates a strong, structured dough). Laminate once or twice on the widest setting, then continue to feed dough through the pasta machine, reducing settings notch by notch, until the pasta is the required thickness (for the standard 1.5mm, you should be able to see your hand through the sheet of pasta).
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Cut pasta into preferred shapes (see below). Cook immediately, or dust with rice flour, then store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze it (frozen pasta can be cooked without defrosting it first). To dry pasta, leave it in front of a fan for 4-5 hours, then store it in a paper bag at room temperature for up to 1 month.
For fettuccine or capellini, feed 1.5mm-thick pasta through pasta machine with required attachment fitted to cut. For pappardelle or tagliatelle, dust 1.5mm-thick pasta with flour, fold in half four times and cut into ribbons with a sharp knife. For farfalle, cut 1.5mm-thick pasta into 2.5cm-wide strips, then cut at 4cm intervals with a fluted wheel and pinch the centre of each rectangle so they resemble butterflies. For lasagne, cut 2.5mm-thick pasta into sheets to fit tray.