“There are a few techniques to making these little buggers. It’s one of my favourite pasta shapes, but weirdly tricky to master. I don’t want that to put you off – I’ve seen both 5-year-olds and 100-year-olds rattling it out in Italy very easily! Approach it with a Zen-like mind and I promise you’ll get into the rhythm soon enough. ”
Pile the flour on to a clean surface and make a well in the middle. Gradually add 200ml of warm water, using a fork to bring the flour in from the outside until it forms a dough. Knead on a flour-dusted surface, switching between fast and slow kneading, for 10 minutes, or until smooth and firm. Cut the dough into four so you can work with it a quarter at a time. Cover the rest with a clean damp tea towel while you work, to stop it drying out. Roll your first quarter into a long sausage shape about 1cm in diameter, then cut it into 1cm nuggets. Keep your surface well dusted with flour.
Now, method number one: starting at the edge furthest away from you, drag a blunt eating knife towards you over a nugget of dough, so it curls round and over the knife. Gently pull the dough off the knife, push your thumb inside and turn it inside out. Repeat, and you’ll get it after a while. Method number two requires you to stick your thumb into the centre of a nugget (roll it into a ball first if you want to be more precise), rotate your thumb around to create a round disc, then pick the disc up and hold it between your thumb and forefinger, pulling it gently over your forefinger to make a similarly effective little ear. Transfer to a floured tray as you go.
Whichever method you choose, repeat with the remaining pasta, shaping and perfecting as you go until all your little ears are done.