The art of making pasta by hand certainly comes about with lots of practice and trial and error. And certainly out there in the stratosphere many recipes and videos abound, so I’m sharing what works for me and what has been passed down from my mother who has had lots of experience throughout the years. With a little patience, anyone can make fresh pasta!
This is a basic recipe for fresh pasta that serves 4-5 people. A “loose” rule I have: I usually count number of people equals number of eggs. And number of eggs per one cup or 100 grams of flour. That’s a rule of thumb, but it can change if you have smaller eggs or a type of flour that absorbs lots of liquid (usually a common white flour such as Gold Medal). Then I reduce the amount of flour or add a bit of water with the eggs (never after I have started mixing!).
- Eggs – jumbo size are best because they have more liquid. With large eggs you may have to cut back on flour or add just a little bit of water.
- Flour – I generally use organic unbleached all-purpose flour from Central Milling Company, Caputo Chef flour tipo “00” a type of specially milled flour that produces a silky, light texture to cakes and pasta. I do not use semolina flour because it results in a pasta that is too heavy. You can experiment with other flours (I have used common flours such as Gold Medal or Trader Joe’s), but you have to be careful.
- I like to measure my flour on the scale because it is more precise. Here I’m providing the measurements both ways.
- I never add oil or salt. They toughen the dough and make it heavy.
- I always mix the dough by hand. I feel like I have more control over the dough as it comes together and it doesn’t get over-beaten by blades in the food processor.
- I use a manual machine to roll out the dough. Again this gives me lots of control over the width and thickness of the pasta.
4 whole eggs
4 cups flour or 400 grams
After measuring the flour, dump it on the counter and make a well with it. Crack the eggs into the well and then beat them gently, gradually scooping up the flour on the sides.
Keep scrapping the sides until you have to scoop it all into a ball, gently squeezing the flour and eggs together. Knead together until the dough is fairly smooth. If it gets too sticky, add a bit more flour. If it is too dry, leave out the flour, don’t try to incorporate it all. Allow the dough to tell you what it can absorb and leave the rest by the way-side or add a little bit of water (go easy! Water is the enemy of homemade pasta – it will turn your dough into glue)), otherwise you will end up with a stiff and tough dough. Place the ball of dough under a bowl and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes. The resting is important because it allows the flour and eggs to relax, making the dough silkier and more manageable.
To work the dough, cut off a wedge (not too large otherwise you will working with more than you can handle) from the ball and flatten it with your fingers. Sprinkle with flour, then pass it through the widest setting (0), fold the flattened pasta and pass it through again in the opposite direction (from the folded side). Do this a few times until the dough has a smooth look and forms a little square. You can have the dough rest again while you cut another wedge. Once you have a few sheets started, you can start working on the length and thickness. Feed the dough through the smooth rollers, each time adjusting the knob settings until you have reached the desired length and width. Dust with flour whenever the dough seems to get sticky. Every machine is slightly different, but I like to keep the dough slightly thicker for tagliatelle (fettuccine), pappardelle, or tagliolini and very thin for lasagne (#9 setting) which sometimes I pass through twice for extra thinness.
- I like to slightly dry the long sheets of pasta before cutting. Be careful because if it is too dry, all you will be able to make are lasagne sheets.
- Cut the length of the sheet of pasta to approximately 10 -12 inches for tagliatelle type pasta. Imagine the diner having to wrap the noodles around on a fork!
- To make tagliatelle or tagliolini, attach the appropriate cutter and feed the pasta, catching the cut pasta as it passes through. Dust with more flour and dry on the table until ready for use.