Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pasta Dough

Pasta dough is one of those things that seems harder than it really is.  All you need is a pasta machine and in no time you'll be enjoying wonderful fresh pastas.  I made a cheese lasagna on Christmas.  Lasagna noodles are the easiest because once you roll them, they are pretty much done.  Let’s get rolling!

Start with flour (I use unbleached all-purpose), eggs, salt and water.  That's all that's in pasta.  You can use a stand mixer, but it is not necessary.  I actually prefer getting my hands dirty with this – it feels very old school.

 This was a double batch so I used 8 eggs.  Make sure there are no shells…

…and whisk them in a bowl (or measuring cup).  This makes them easier to incorporate into the dough.

Combine your flour and salt. Create a well in the middle of the bowl.  This is for the eggs to sit in.  Pour your eggs into the well and mix them with a fork, slowly pulling more flour into the middle.

Does it look like this yet?  Great.   Keep mixing.

When it gets stiff it's time to start kneading with your hands.  If it seems the mixture is too dry add water one teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency.  What is the desired consistency?  You may need some trial and error to figure it out.  It should be a solid feeling dough but not too sticky.

Eventually you will need to dump the dough on a cutting board to knead even more.  You should knead for 10 minutes or until your arms fall off.

Finished!  Now the dough (and you) need to rest for at least an hour.  This helps the gluten relax and creates a more silky pasta, not to mention it makes it easier to roll out.

This is my go-to pasta machine.  It was my wife's grandmother's machine.  I have two other new machines, but they don't work as well.  This machine also has built in fettuccine and spaghetti cutters.

To roll, start on the thickest setting.  Grab a ball of dough and flatten it.  Run it through the machine.  Fold it in half.  Run it though the machine.  Keep folding and rolling about seven to ten times.  This also helps the gluten relax.  Then, turn the dial one number at a time and run the dough through.  If it sticks your dough is too wet.  Flour it.  Eventually the dough will be very thin and very long.  If you need to cut it in half to make it more manageable, that’s ok.  Hang the rolled dough to dry for about a half hour.  (If you are making cut pasta let dry, for an hour, on a rack or coil it in “nests” for easy storage.  Then freeze it in a zip lock.)

Keep rolling until all your dough is gone.  Here is the finished pasta.  If you don’t have a drying rack, you can use a clean dish rack or let them dry on a floured dishrag.
There is no need to boil this pasta for lasagna.  (If making cut pasta, boil time is 3-4 minutes – much less than dried.)
Pics of my Christmas lasagna to follow shortly…

Happy pasta making!!!

Pasta Dough

Makes: About 1 pound   Active Time: 40 Minutes   
Start to Finish: 1 ½ hours

3 cups unbleached flour
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in stand mixer until it forms a ball.  (Or follow the above “manual” directions.)  Add water drop by drop if dough is too dry (crumbly) or flour it the dough is too wet.  The dough should be firm but not sticky.  Process for 15 more seconds to knead.  Transfer to a floured surface and cover with an inverted bowl for an hour.  (This makes the gluten relax and rolling easier.)
The dough can be made 4 hours ahead and refrigerated, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.
Hand roll or use a pasta machine to shape.


  1. If you are using your wife's grandmother's pasta machine, can I have mine back??? I am inspired to have another go at making pasta myself...

  2. I can attest to the fact that your pasta is DELICIOUS!!