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I tried making fresh egg pasta for the first time today, and generally I think the dough came out alright, except that, as I don't have a roller (and also because I just underestimated the thickness) my pasta was quite thick. I used 100g of 00 flour per large egg, that's all.

I essentially made what resemble tagliatelle but really think - I cut this by rolling out the dough into a rectangular sheet, folding inwards from both sides and then cutting through the rolls - quite a common technique I gained from watching videos.

My pasta came out a little hard, probably from the thickness, but I am unsure as to whether this means I should cook for more time or less time - I cooked for around 10 minutes. Does hard pasta, given the thickness of my hand-rolled pasta mean undercooked or overcooked? Just trying to understand whether, other than rolling thinner, I need to cook for more or less time, next time.

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    I don't understand the question. You say that you plan to roll your next batch of pasta thinner, whatever "thinner" is. Why do you want to change the cooking time too? – rumtscho Nov 2 '16 at 18:17
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    As I said, the pasta came out hard, it tasted hard and when cutting after cooked, e.g. with a fork, it had too much "bite" - not al dente but hard. So I'm wondering, for fresh pasta, is this a sign of undercooking or overcooking i.e. boiling too long? I mention that I will make the pasta thinner because this will mean it cooks quicker as it will be less thick, but I am limited in how thin I can roll my pasta without a machine. – yerbamate170 Nov 2 '16 at 21:31
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    It's not a sign of overcooking that I'm aware of -- the noodles turn to mush in that case. It might be underdone -- if so, if you cut through the pasta, you should see that the middle is a different color than the edges. You want just a little bit of that middle bit if you're going for 'al dente'. But as tumtscho hinted at -- if you roll them out thinner, you'll reduce the necessary cooking time. – Joe Nov 2 '16 at 22:39
  • @yerbamate170 OK, now I get it. Thank you for clarifying. – rumtscho Nov 4 '16 at 7:22
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The hardness you're experiencing is a sign that you've undercooked it. It isn't really "hard" in the sense that dry pasta is hard. It's not brittle, just very tough and difficult to bite through.

You can continue to cook it, but it's going to start becoming mushy on the outside before it becomes cooked through to the inside. That's why pastas are rolled out thin. Rolling it out thin with a rolling pin is enormous effort, so new pasta makers always give up too early. And they get this effect of tough pasta.

We all go through it. Stick with it. And then invest in a pasta roller, which makes it a bajillion times easier. But it's good to have done it the hard way a few times.

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Rolling it out manually is quite difficult (despite popular cooking competitions on television making it look easy). You'll almost always have dough that's thicker in the center than the edges. There are some things you can try (besides getting lots of sweat into your dough as you strive for a 1 mm even thickness).

  • Use your fingers. As you cut the noodles and unroll them, pinch the dough a bit from the center of it toward the edge. It makes a rather 'rustic' noodle, but you can get it a bit more consistent.

  • Use a small roller on much smaller sheets of dough, and roll from the center outward a dozen or so times prior to cutting (this is how I do it). It's much easier to get a smaller section to a consistent thickness. Work on sheets about the size of lasagne.

I really recommend getting a roller for it, most of them are built so solid that your great grandkids will be making pasta with it (which helps soften the price of them). But you don't have to, and some prefer not to use them at all.

For classic tagliatelle, you want it as close to 1 mm thick as you can get, but it doesn't have to be perfect - that's the charm of fresh pasta at home. Try working on smaller batches and I bet you'll find it to be easier. Most of all, don't get discouraged - fresh pasta is one of the most rewarding things you can cook.

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