Fresh egg pasta, or sfoglia, is one of the cornerstones of Emilia Romagna’s culinary heritage.
This bright yellow pasta is characteristic of the region. It is the staple of culinary delights such as tortellini, tortelloni and tagliatelle, whose sunny hues shine temptingly from the windows of all local food shops and restaurants. You can stuff and shape this pasta in so many ways, and you’ll find amazing variations from town to town.
So, how do I make my own?
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 even need a pasta machine: here, the pasta is rolled strictly by hand. It takes some practice, however, 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. Of course, learning with a local is an unbeatable way to learn the secrets of Italian home cooking.
Here’s how to make your own home-made sfoglia.
Recipe and Method
Ingredients (for 4 people)
- 400g (2 cups) “00” flour
- 4 eggs – preferably with very yellow yolks!
- The rule is simple, 1 egg per person, half cup of flour/100g per egg. The eggs should be room temperature.
You will need:
- Wooden rolling pin
- Wooden work surface or board
- Scraper or palette knife
- Cling film
Pile the flour on the dough board and make a well in its centre. Then, break the eggs into the well and, using a fork, gradually incorporate flour from the sides of the well.
Once you’ve obtained a reasonably solid mixture, use your fingertips to gently work it into a rough dough, using quick, light movements.
Cesarina Luisa’s Top tip:
The egg and flour mixture will be sticky, so make sure not to use your whole hand. Just use your fingertips! This way you’ll make less mess.
Once the mixture has formed a more solid dough, scrape any dough residue from your work surface with the edge of your knife or scraper. Add these scraps of residue to your dough… No waste!
Now, begin to knead your dough with regular movements for 10 – 15 minutes, until it is smooth and soft. Make sure to stretch it out with the heel of your hands so the fibres within the dough become elastic. After 10 minutes of kneading, you should end up with a silky-smooth ball of dough that is springy to the touch.
Cesarina Paola’s top tip:
“To check if your dough is ready, roll it into a ball and cut it in half. If you can see 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.”
Once your dough is ready, shape it into a ball, and cut a cross shape in the top which will help it 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.
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. Finally, roll your dough around the work surface so it’s covered in flour, which will stop the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.
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.
Cesarina Rosa’s Top tip:
“If you feel like your dough is too sticky as you roll it out, you can dust with a pinch of flour. However, it is best to wait a little, because the flour and work surface will absorb some moisture as you roll.”
Is your pasta ready?
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.
Did you know?
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. The world is your oyster.
Why not try out some of our fresh pasta recipes?
Pumpkin-filled Cappellacci Ferraresi
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