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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

egg noodles

They're easier to make than you think. A lot easier, a lot yummier, and a lot healthier. We scrapped the traditional Christmas roasts this year and served up noodles with a rustic lamb bolognaise for lunch. It cut down on time and effort tremendously and everyone loved it.

Homemade Egg Noodles 

(3 cups flour and 5-6 eggs serves approximately 4-6 adults)

You need a stand mixer with a bowl and dough hook.
You need strong white bread flour.
You need eggs.
You need salt.

If you want to make this by hand, you can. It just takes longer to knead the dough to elasticity, but it's definitely possible.

Add 3 cups of bread flour to the bowl. Add a pinch of salt for each cup.

Now crack in about 4 large eggs. Start the mixer going with the dough hook. Watch the dough. As it starts to bind, you'll see if you need to add another one or two more eggs.

Knead the dough (with the mixer or by hand) for a full 5 minutes. You are aiming to create a smooth, elastic lump of dough that holds together around the dough hook, comes away from the sides of the bowl, and is not so sticky that it clings to your finger when you press it. Basically, the texture should be very similar to bread dough. Malleable and soft.

If it is too dry to bind all the flour properly, add another egg. If it is just a touch dry, add 1/2 tsp water until you reach the right texture. If it is too wet, add a little flour. Eventually it will all come right. If you find the dough becoming too stiff for you to work by hand, flop a bowl over the top of it and walk away for 10 minutes. Your arms will have a break and the gluten will relax a little so you can finish kneading.

Once you have a smooth ball of noodle dough, you are ready to begin shaping noodles. The most basic way is as my father did when I was growing up: roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick, and use a knife to cut into long thin strips that boil in the water. Dad would then cover the cooked noodles in a white sauce with tinned tuna fish and green peas added, and that would be dinner. One of our favorite meals growing up!

If you have the luxury, a pasta press will take a bit of elbow grease and time out of the equation for you.

First, divide the dough into smallish balls, about the size of a small eating apple or a clementine. Use the pasta press to flatten each ball to 1/2 inch thick first, and then flatten again to 1/4 inch thick.

At this point, you can leave the dough on a safe surface for an hour if you like. It doesn't need to stay protected from the air super much.

Once you are about 30 minutes out from dinner time, get a large pot of water boiling. Large. The largest you have. The best way to prevent pasta from sticking is with lots of water for it to swim around in, and bring it to a proper rolling boil.

Now, use your machine (or your knife) to cut the shapes of pasta. Here, you can see my machine isn't all that great. It's very old! Granny had it many years ago and the cutters are not as sharp as they once were, so I use it but I don't get as fine a noodle as you would with a good quality new Italian press.


Add noodles to the boiling water and stir in quickly. You can keep rolling and adding more pasta as long as there is water enough for the noodles to move about, even if some of the noodles are already cooked. You will easily be able to see if they're cooked by biting one. As you're ready, transfer noodles to serving dishes or whatever else you plan to do with them. Tuna noodle casserole, a good bolognaise, or just buttered with a sprinkling of dill, homemade egg noodles are satisfying and delicious.

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