Basic Pasta Dough
Recipe from "Biba's Italy," by Biba Caggiano
- 2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- 4 extra-large eggs
Mound the flour on a large wooden board or other work surface. With your fingers, make a round well in the center of the flour. Crack the eggs into the well, and stir thoroughly with a fork. Using the fork, begin to incorporate the flour, starting from the inner rim of the well, into the eggs, until about half of the flour has been incorporated and a soft paste begins to form.
With a dough scraper, push all the remaining flour to one side of the board. Scrape off and discard the bits and pieces of dough attached to the board. Wash your hands, then begin adding some of the flour you have pushed aside into the dough. Knead gently with the heels of your hand. As you keep incorporating a little flour at a time, the dough will become firmer. Keep the board clean and dust it lightly with flour as you knead. After 8 to 10 minutes of good kneading, the dough should be smooth, elastic, and just a little sticky. (Press one finger into the center of the dough. If it comes out barely moist, the dough is ready to be rolled out. If the dough is quite sticky, add a bit more flour and knead it 2 to 3 minutes longer.)
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Just before using, knead again for a minute or two.
Set the rollers of a hand-cranked or electric pasta machine at their widest opening. Cut off a piece of dough about the size of a large egg, and flatten it with the palms of your hands. Keep the rest of the dough wrapped in plastic. Dust the small piece of dough lightly with flour, and run it once through the machine. Fold the dough in half, pressing it down with your fingertips, and run through the machine again. Repeat this step four or five times, dusting lightly with flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Now change the rollers of the pasta machine to a decreasing setting, and roll out the dough once without folding. Keep rolling the sheet through the machine on decreasing settings until you have rolled it through the last (thinnest) setting. Cut, stuff, and shape the pasta sheet immediately according to recipe directions, before rolling out another sheet, so that the sheet will not dry out.