Last night I thought it would be easier (& nicer) to make my own orichette than to buy commercial conchiglie. Well it definitely tasted good. Making pasta is pretty simple really – as always start with good quality ingredients – I used 00 organic ‘pasta’ flour from my local online retailer (Ocado) which had a grittiness different to normal flour & really worked well, & of course free range organic eggs.
Take one medium egg to each 100g of flour, add some olive oil if the dough doesn’t form a mass hanging off the dough hook of your mixer after about 5 min. Room temperature eggs would definitely help! Some recipes suggest that adding salt to the dough causes it to take up water so I don’t do this. After the dough is mixed (it should be really stiff, don’t add too much oil or water!) wrap it in cling film and leave it to relax in the fridge for an hour or so.
After struggling making little thumb hats for about an hour Julian came to my help with an array of YouTube videos which he played sequentially so that I could watch them whilst making (the advantage of being in a tiny appartment). The problem though is that the Nonna’s are so fast that it’s hard to track what they do! So below is my description of how it worked best for me, refer to said videos to get a graphic impression!
Roll a piece of dough out into an approx 1cm diameter roll. Using a sharp flat bladed knife (I used my Santoku knife) slice a 3-5mm thick slice off the end, then turn the knife on its side to smear out the pasta, as the pasta appears from under the knife (I needed to use quite a lot of pressure) put your thumb on it and as more pasta is extruded, move your thumb onto the new part (this gives the dough it’s typical hat shape). When the slice has been completely smeared, turn the hat inside out & there you have your orichette! It took me 2.5h to make 400g of flour worth of pasta, but the result was worth it and I expect to get quicker.
N.B. on one of the videos the nonna said she mixed the flour with a couple of tbs of boiling water, rather than egg, each egg being approx 60g & if we assume it has a slightly greater density than that of water, I would expect maybe 50ml per 100g of flour???? I would however be cautious and test it out with half the amount first up!
Also I estimate 100g of flour per person, though I used only 2/3 of the 400g pasta for 4 people – the exact amount depends on how many men are eating and how hungry people are!