Egg Pasta and Fresh Pasta

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Noodles made from standard bread wheat and eggs are preferred in much of northern Europe, and most fresh pastas sold in the United States are of this type. Eggs perform two functions in noodles. One is to enhance color and richness. Here the yolk is the primary factor, and yolks alone can be used; their fat content also makes the dough more delicate and the noodles tender. The second function is to provide additional protein for moderate-protein flours used in both home and industrial production. The egg white proteins make the dough and noodles more cohesive and firm, reduce the gelation and leaking of starch granules, and reduce cooking losses. In U.S. commercial noodles, dried egg is added at 5–10% of the weight of the flour. In Italy, Alsace, Germany, and in specialty and homemade noodles in the United States, fresh eggs are used, and in larger proportions. They may be the only source of water in the dough. Some pastas from the Piedmont region in northwest Italy contain as many as 18 yolks per pound of flour/40 yolks per kg.