Sourdough Pasta (with a Pasta Machine)

Recently I was lucky enough to receive a pasta machine from a relative (thanks Cecilia!), and I’ve been giving it a pretty good workout lately – it definitely makes homemade pasta easier to churn out than rolling it by hand. This particular pasta machine was made in Italy but comes under the name “NUDELMASCHINE”, which sounds more German than Italian and prompts me and Nate to put on our best/worst German accents whenever it comes out of the cupboard for a pasta-making session.

A little while ago I came across a recipe for sourdough pasta on The Gingered Whisk (one of my Sourdough Surprises buddies), and as recipes for using up excess sourdough starter are always useful, I gave it a whirl. Like all things made with my particular sourdough starter, the sourdough taste in the pasta was not very assertive (I think I must have a very mild culture in my starter) but I get a kick out of using my starter wherever I can. For the pasta in this post, I doubled my original homemade pasta recipe and added about 1/4 cup excess starter to the dough. It made a really nice, silky, easy to work with dough that I happily ran through the pasta machine and then coiled into little nests under a tea towel.

Unfortunately, this pasta is moister than I’m used to, and by the time I’d finished cutting the last of it into strands of fettuccine, those little nests of pasta had stuck together beyond the point of possible separation and the individual strands of pasta were no longer so individual.

Pasta, stuck together. *Sigh*

I swore a bit (OK, a lot), then had no choice but to run it all through the pasta machine again. This time, instead of coiling the finished pasta into nests, I hung it to dry on a broomstick balanced between two chairs, which worked like a charm.

So this pain-in-the-butt actually had a happy ending, because I learned two things: one, if you are letting the fresh pasta sit for any length of time before cooking it, the drying step is crucial; and two, this dough can tolerate being man-handled rather a lot, and in fact I would recommend it – when cooked, the pasta was silky yet chewy in just the right way, and probably the best I’ve made yet. Also, drying the pasta out allows you to keep it in the fridge for a few days in a sealed Ziplock bag, which is great because this recipe made enough for two meals for me and Nate.

Sourdough Pasta

Makes 1 lb of pasta, enough for about 4 servings. If you are rolling this by hand without a pasta machine, be sure to give the dough a thorough kneading to encourage gluten formation before rolling it out – it should be very smooth and elastic.

In a medium bowl, measure:

2 cups all purpose flour

In a small bowl or cup, whisk together:

2 eggs

1 – 2 tbsp olive oil

Pour the egg mixture into the flour, then add:

1/4 cup sourdough starter (does not have to be active – discard is fine)

With a fork, mix the liquid into the flour, starting in the middle and gradually drawing in the flour from the edges of the bowl. Add water, a few drops at a time as needed, to form a shaggy dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands until it becomes a cohesive, smooth dough. Cover the dough with the upturned bowl and let it rest for 20 – 30 minutes.

When the dough has rested, cut it into 4 pieces. Flatten one of the pieces into a long-ish shape, dust it with flour, and pass it through the pasta machine’s flat rollers at the widest setting. Fold the dough in thirds and pass through the rollers again. Repeat about 6 more times or until the dough is very smooth and elastic, folding the dough in half or thirds after each pass and flouring it as necessary to keep it from sticking. Don’t worry about overdoing this stage – you are essentially kneading the dough with each pass and the more passes you make, the stronger the gluten in the dough, which means nice chewy pasta rather than limp, flabby pasta.

Turn the rollers to their next smallest setting and pass the dough through about 3 times, folding it in half on the first pass if you feel it necessary. Continue this way, with 2 or 3 passes at each setting (without folding) before moving onto the next smallest setting. Feel free to cut the pasta sheet in half it it gets too long to handle easily. If you are making long pasta sheets for lasagne, continue on to the very smallest setting. If you are making cut pasta (ie, fettuccine), stop at the second-to-smallest setting. Repeat with the remaining pieces of pasta dough.

At this point, I cut the pasta sheet in half and fed it through the fettuccine cutter. As it comes out the other side in strands, catch it on the handle of a wooden spoon (this does a better job than your hands of keeping the strands more or less separate). Transfer the cut pasta to a drying rack, aka a broomstick handle balanced between two chairs, making sure that the strands are not overlapping or they will stick together in the time it takes you to cut the rest of the pasta.

If you are cooking the pasta immediately, you don’t need to dry it out any further – just drop it in rapidly boiling, salted water for 3 – 4 minutes, until al dente. If you want to store the raw pasta for a few days, make sure it is quite dry (no chance of it sticking together) and place it in a Ziplock bag in the fridge. The drier pasta may take a few more minutes to cook.

This post submitted to YeastSpotting.


  1. says

    Do you know about the BBC documentary (1 April 1957) about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland? From a summary:

    The hoax Panorama programme, narrated by distinguished broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, featured a family from Ticino in Switzerland carrying out their annual spaghetti harvest.

    It showed women carefully plucking strands of spaghetti from a tree and laying them in the sun to dry.

    But some viewers failed to see the funny side of the broadcast and criticised the BBC for airing the item on what is supposed to be a serious factual programme.

    Others, however, were so intrigued they wanted to find out where they could purchase their very own spaghetti bush.

    Exotic delicacy

    Spaghetti is not a widely-eaten food in the UK and is considered by many as an exotic delicacy.

    Mr Dimbleby explained how each year the end of March is a very anxious time for Spaghetti harvesters all over Europe as severe frost can impair the flavour of the spaghetti.

    He also explained how each strand of spaghetti always grows to the same length thanks to years of hard work by generations of growers.

    You can watch the brief segment here. (It requires Flip4Mac, which I downloaded and installed with no problem, and so could watch the whole segment—about 3 minutes, totally poker-faced, as it were.)

  2. Cecilia says

    My ex-husband is half-German, and I think this might have been a wedding present from one of the German relatives? In any case, you have already used it more than I ever did! Your pasta looks beautiful. πŸ™‚

  3. says

    I love your great step by steps shots you make it so simple to follow your directions. Your pasta is beautiful. I can’t wait to see what you made with your lovely fresh pasta.

  4. says

    I have been dying to try a sourdough pasta for some time now. So glad you posted this because I’d love to use your recipe! The fetttuccine looks silky and beautiful!

  5. says

    Haha, I am glad you gave this a whirl! Shelley and I love sourdough pasta, we make it all the time! You should try different shapes with it, too! πŸ™‚ I am glad the dough can be manhandled, but I hate when you have to find out, though!

  6. says

    Fabulous! Homemade pasta is the best and something that uses up starter is even better. πŸ˜‰ Despite the reroll, your pasta looks perfect and delicious.

  7. says

    Maybe it comes from the Italian region Trentino Alto-Adige that speak German as much as Italian. It was part of Austrian-Hungarian Empire until WWII I believe.
    I’ve a past machine that looks identical too and I’ve made pasta a plenty on it but with a newly developed intolerance to unsoured wheat products, an addiction to making my own own of everything and an active sourdough starter, well, I am profoundly glad I found this recipe. Thank you. πŸ™‚

  8. Ed says

    I’ve never made pasta with sourdough and have being baking loads of bread with my sourdough starter called Tony so am trying it this way for the 1st time. Dough is currently resting so fingers crossed. Hopefully I’ll have it with mussels in cider for me and venison meatballs in a tomato sauce for my wife although I may steal some of the meatballs as I’m making them!!!

    • Korena in the Kitchen says

      I hope the pasta works well for you! Mussels and cider and venison meatballs in tomato all sound like wonderful things to eat with it!

  9. John Aston says

    Korena, thanks for the recipe and tips. I an wondering how you topped it, though. Does the sourdough pair well with a traditional tomato sauce?

    • Korena in the Kitchen says

      Hi John, I think this particular batch of pasta ended up with a cream sauce, but it would go well with anything, including tomato sauce.

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