My pasta recipe: confidence, combined
with one egg, one cup of “00” flour, a splash of extra virgin olive oil, and a dash of salt. I can’t say I’ve ever been one to measure, and though that habit doesn’t pan out in such pursuits as carpentry and cobbling, with respect to pasta it seems to work.
Recipes are ideas, and with a pasta dough recipe, the idea is to end up with a ball that isn’t sticky. Plain and simple. It’ll roll through the machine without a mess, then roll through the cutters, then boil for no more than a couple minutes. Sauce and cheese of choice to taste.
Anyway, I plop the wet ingredients plus the salt into a bowl and mix with a fork, mostly to agitate the egg. Then dump in half the flour and stir. It will look nothing like a ball of dough at this point and it will stick to everything. That’s fine.
Now dump half the remaining flour and roll the clump around. It should start taking ball shape by now, but it’ll still be horribly sticky.
Dump the remaining flour and add more as necessary until you’ve a ball that won’t stick to your fingers. (If it does stick to your fingers, rub your hands together and the dough will ripple off and you can work it back into the ball, plus a bit more flour.)
Lay out a spot on the counter with even more flour at the ready and the pasta roller nearby. Spread out some flour and flour your hands and pick up the ball and get to kneading it on the dry, floured counter. As the ball absorbs the dusting of flour, sprinkle more. Continue kneading it until it’s dry and elastic.
Next, sit. While you sit, the dough will also sit. I recommend having a beverage. Enjoy this moment and listen for the beautiful gluteny goodness of the 00 flour to make the pasta dough impossibly more stretchy.
Once you’ve quenched yourself, cut a bit of dough from the ball. I can’t tell you how much (as doing so brushes too close to measurement for my tastes) but I can tell you that for my machine and preferences, half or a third of the ball works. Press this flat. And now the fun part: feed the flattened ball through the rollers, starting on the thickest setting, and cranking briskly and steadily. As the flattened dough sheets out, be sure it doesn’t stick to itself, and if it starts to, sprinkle flour on it and gently brush the flour across the surface with a dry hand.
Set the rollers a tick closer together and feed the sheet through again. It’ll get longer every time you do this, so be prepared. Sometimes I’ll uncoil the sheet as it drops out the bottom of the rollers, so to prevent it from turning back into a clump. Even if it does, just start over. And sometimes I’ll fold it gently before I feed it back through, if the sheet has gotten too long to handle.
When it’s as flat as you prefer, run it through the cutters, or use a wine glass to cut circles for tortellini, or whatever. Be creative. And by all means, don’t measure!
Measuring is for scientists and building inspectors, and they rarely ever finish off their work with a flourish of fresh cheese.