Fresh egg pasta, or sfoglia, is one of the cornerstones of Emilia-Romagna’s culinary heritage.
This bright yellow pasta is characteristic of the Emilia-Romagna region. From Parma, to Modena, to Bologna and Ferrara, it is the staple of culinary delights such as tortellini, tortelloni, cappellacci and tagliatelle, whose sunny hues shine temptingly from the windows of all local food shops and restaurants.
It's an amazing experience to buy fresh pasta when you visit the local food shops and markets, but making it for yourself is even more satisying!
Did you know... Cesarine helped to break a world record? We rolled a sheet of pasta that was longer than an American football field!
Making your own ‘Sfoglia’ is great fun, and is easier than you think. In fact, you need just two ingredients, a rolling pin, and some elbow grease. That’s right, we don’t need a pasta machine: here, the pasta is rolled strictly by hand. It takes some practice, but once you’ve got the technique, you will be making pasta forever!
By the way, if you’re heading to Italy and want to dive into the world of pasta making, you can book a cooking class in one of our local homes. Learning with a local is an unbeatable way to learn the secrets of Italian home cooking.
Pile the flour onto your work surface and make a wide well in its centre. Then, break the eggs into the well. Using a fork, gradually incorporate flour from the sides of the well to mix with the egg. Take care not to let the egg spill over the sides.
Once you’ve obtained a reasonably solid mixture, use your fingertips to gently work it into a rough dough, using quick, light movements. Don't use your whole hand for this part, using just your fingertips is much more efficient... and less messy!
When the mixture has formed a more solid dough, scrape any dough residue from your work surface with the edge of your knife or scraper, and add to your dough.
Now, begin to knead your dough with regular movements for 10 – 15 minutes, until it is very smooth and soft. Make sure to stretch it out with the heel of your hands so the fibres within the dough become elastic. After kneading, you should end up with a silky-smooth ball of dough that is springy to the touch.
To check if your dough is ready, roll it into a ball and cut it in half. If you can see some air bubbles inside, it means you’ve kneaded it enough. However, if there are no air bubbles, just knead it for a couple more minutes to incorporate more air.
Once your dough is ready, shape it into a ball, and cut a cross shape in the top which will help its fibres to expand as it rests. Then, wrap the ball with cling film and leave it to one side to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remember, this needs to be wrapped carefully, because you don’t want your dough to dry out.
Start rolling out the pasta using your rolling pin, from the centre outwards. Whilst rolling the dough, make sure to turn it frequently. As a result, it will have a more regular shape.
When the dough is rolled out wide and flat, it is easier to turn it around by wrapping it gently around the rolling pin and moving it as needed. Remember, don’t pick it up or turn it with your hands, because it could tear.
Once your dough has rested, you can start rolling out your fresh pasta. Dust your work surface with flour, as this will prevent it from sticking.
Flatten your dough ball slightly with the palm of your hand, so it’s easier to get started with the rolling pin. Roll your dough around the work surface so it’s covered in flour, which will stop the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.
The thickness you need depends on the recipe. However, a good way of checking you’ve rolled your pasta thin enough is to lift it up using your rolling pin, and hold it up to the light. If you can see plenty of light shining through, it’s a good sign that you’re done.
In Bologna, according to local tradition, you should be able to see the Basilica of San Luca through your sfoglia, only then is it thin enough!
Now, you have the staple for a whole range of iconic pasta dishes, from tortellini, to tagliatelle, to lasagne, cappellacci... The world is your oyster.
Cooking knowledge is the best souvenir.
There are so many pasta variations all over Italy, and the best place to encounter the most authentic Italian pasta is in local homes.
Have a look at these pasta making classes...
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