Okay, this is being picky, but there’s nothing quite like hand-rolled pasta. That rolling pin (as opposed to the metal rollers of a pasta machine) embeds a pebbly texture into the dough. Sauces collect in those tiny pits and crevasses achieving what Italians see as a saintly marriage of sauce to pasta.
Pasta machines give a smooth finish, which is fine, but if you’re going as far as to make your own pasta, why not go all the way? Although Italian women use a long narrow pin called a mattarello, use any heavy rolling pin that feels right to you. Softer than most, this dough becomes appealingly light when cooked.
Cook to Cook: For richer pasta, eliminate the water and substitute two more eggs. For a Renaissance experience, substitute 3 tablespoons of rose water or orange flower water for part of the water measurement, and add 3 tablespoons of sugar to the flour.
- 2 3/4 cups (about 14 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the pasta
- 3 large eggs
1. Making the pasta by hand: Make a mountain of the flour in the center of a work surface. Hollow out a well in the middle. Have a pastry scraper handy. Pour the eggs and 1/2 cup warm water into the well. With a fork, mix them together. Now start incorporating shallow scrapings of the flour from the walls of the well into the liquid. As you work in more and more flour, the well’s sides may collapse. No fear. Stop any liquids from running off with the pastry scraper, using it to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. It will look hopelessly rough and messy. Don’t worry. Just start kneading.
2. After about 3 minutes, the dough should be slightly sticky and elastic. If very sticky, lightly dust the surface with a couple of teaspoons of flour. Continue kneading for 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, elastic and alive in your hands. If it is too sticky while kneading, work in extra flour a little at a time. Lightly wrap the dough in plastic and let it relax at room temperature, 30 minutes to 4 hours.
3. Making the pasta in a food processor: To protect the dough from overheating, have the eggs cold. Place them and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of the processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add about 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Pulse no more than 5 seconds. Add all but one quarter cup of the flour, pulsing 5 seconds more. If the dough is very sticky, pull it apart into several pieces, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour and pulse again. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky. Pulse 8 times and then scrape the dough out of the bowl. Let rest as directed in step 2.
4. Roll out the pasta: cut the dough into quarters. Roll out one quarter at a time, keeping the rest of the dough wrapped. Very lightly flour the work surface (no more than 1-1/2 teaspoons). Shape the dough into a ball. Roll out into a circle by stretching as well as pressing down. Stretch the dough by rolling a quarter way back onto the pin and gently pushing the pin away from you. Turn the disc a quarter turn and repeat. Do this twice more.
Keep rolling and stretching until the pasta is thin enough to see the color of your hand or this print through it. Spread the sheet out on a flat surface and dry for 20 minutes until it is leathery in texture, turning it several times for even drying. Repeat with the remaining dough.
5. For lasagne noodles, cut into 4 x 8-inch pieces.