Fresh Pasta Without a Machine

Published May 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.

Why this recipe works:

For a pasta dough that could be easily rolled out by hand (but still cook up into delicate, springy noodles), we added six extra egg yolks and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. In addition, we incorporated an extended resting period to allow the gluten network to relax and developed a simple,… read more

For a pasta dough that could be easily rolled out by hand (but still cook up into delicate, springy noodles), we added six extra egg yolks and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. In addition, we incorporated an extended resting period to allow the gluten network to relax and developed a simple, effective rolling technique. 

 

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Fresh Pasta Without a Machine

Pasta made from scratch delivers eggy-rich ribbons with springy yet delicate chew. But what if, instead of a pasta roller, you have only a rolling pin?

Watch the Video

Makes 1 pound; serves 4 to 6

If using a high-protein all-purpose flour like King Arthur brand, increase the amount of egg yolks to seven. The longer the dough rests in step 2 the easier it will be to roll out. When rolling out the dough, avoid adding too much flour, which may result in excessive snapback.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs plus 6 large yolks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 recipe sauce (see related recipes)

Instructions

  1. 1. Process flour, eggs and yolks, and oil in food processor until mixture forms cohesive dough that feels soft and is barely tacky to touch, about 45 seconds. (If dough sticks to fingers, add up to 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until barely tacky. If dough doesn’t become cohesive, add up to 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it just comes together; process 30 seconds longer.)

    2. Turn dough ball onto dry surface and knead until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Shape dough into 6-inch-long cylinder. Wrap with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature to rest for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

    3. Cut cylinder crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece of dough (rewrap remaining dough), dust both sides with flour, place cut side down on clean work surface, and press into 3-inch square. Using heavy rolling pin, roll into 6-inch square. Dust both sides of dough lightly with flour. Starting at center of square, roll dough away from you in 1 motion. Return rolling pin to center of dough and roll toward you in 1 motion. Repeat steps of rolling until dough sticks to counter and measures roughly 12 inches long. Lightly dust both sides of dough with flour and continue rolling dough until it measures roughly 20 inches long and 6 inches wide, frequently lifting dough to release it from counter. (You should be able to easily see outline of your fingers through dough.) If dough firmly sticks to counter and wrinkles when rolled out, dust dough lightly with flour.

    4. Transfer pasta sheet to kitchen towel and let stand, uncovered, until firm around edges, about 15 minutes; meanwhile, roll out remaining dough. Starting with 1 short end, gently fold pasta sheet at 2-inch intervals until sheet has been folded into flat, rectangular roll. With sharp chef’s knife, slice crosswise into 3/16-inch-thick noodles. Use fingers to unfurl pasta and transfer to baking sheet. Repeat folding and cutting remaining sheets of dough. Cook noodles within 1 hour.

    5. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven. Add salt and pasta and cook until tender but still al dente, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and toss with sauce; serve immediately.

    To Make Ahead: Follow recipe through step 4, transfer baking sheet of pasta to freezer, and freeze until pasta is firm. Transfer to zipper-lock bag and store for up to 2 weeks. Cook frozen pasta straight from freezer as directed in step 5.

Step-by-Step

Foolproof Approach To Rolling And Cutting Pasta Dough By Hand

What’s the trick to turning a lump of pasta dough into long, silky strands—without a pasta roller? Starting with a soft, malleable dough is half the battle. The other half: dividing the dough into small, manageable pieces and working with them one at a time.

1. WORK WITH SMALL PIECES

Shape dough into 6-inch cylinder; wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 1 hour. Divide into 6 equal pieces. Reserve 1 piece; rewrap remaining 5.

 

2. START SQUARE

Working with reserved piece, dust both sides with flour, then press cut side down into 3-inch square. With rolling pin, roll into 6-inch square, then dust both sides again with flour.

 

3. ROLL FROM CENTER, ONE WAY AT A TIME

Roll dough to 6 by 12 inches, rolling from center of dough ­­­­one way at a time, then dust with flour. Continue rolling to 6 by 20 inches, lifting frequently to release from counter. Transfer dough to kitchen towel and air-dry for about 15 minutes.

 

4. FOLD INTO FLAT ROLL

Starting with short end, gently fold dried sheet at 2-inch intervals to create flat, rectangular roll.

 

5. CUT INTO STRIPS

With sharp knife, cut into 3/16-inch-thick noodles.

 

6. UNFURL

Use fingers to unfurl pasta; transfer to baking sheet.

Recipe Testing

Troubleshooting Fresh Pasta

This dough is designed to be tacky enough to stick lightly to the counter, giving it traction to be stretched ultra-thin but not so sticky that it wrinkles when rolled out. Variables such as flour brand, measuring technique, and size of the eggs may lead to slight differences in consistency. Here are tips on how to address texture-related problems and other issues that may arise.

Problem: Dough isn’t coming together in food processor.
Solution: Add up to 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough forms cohesive mass that’s barely tacky to touch.

Problem: Dough is too sticky.
Solution: Add up to ¼ cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is barely tacky.

Problem: Dough wrinkles when rolled out.
Solution: Lift dough from counter; dust both sides lightly with flour.

Problem: Dough has too much extra flour, doesn’t stick to counter, and snaps back when rolled.
Solution: Use pastry brush to dust off excess flour from dough.

Problem: Dough sheet is too dry and cracks when folded.
Solution: Mist sheet lightly with water; let sit few minutes to allow dough to absorb water before folding again.

Problem: Dough pieces aren’t same size.
Solution: When rolling out, pay more attention to visual cue provided—dough should be rolled thin enough that outline of fingers is visible through it—than final dimensions.

BE TRANSPARENT

Recipe Testing

Formula For Soft Dough

The biggest hurdle to rolling out dough without a pasta roller is that it takes muscle to stretch it gossamer thin. Our solution? Create a super-malleable dough that doesn’t snap back when you roll it. We did this by adding a generous splash of olive oil, which coats the flour proteins, limiting their ability to form gluten so the dough stays more elastic. We also mixed in six extra egg yolks. Yolks are loaded with fat and emulsifiers that also limit gluten development—but because their proteins coagulate when heated, adding structure, they ensure that the pasta is strong enough to stay intact when boiled.

LOTS OF OIL AND MORE YOLKS

Step-by-Step

How to Make Shaped Pasta

Once each piece of pasta has been shaped it should be transferred to lightly floured rimmed baking sheet. Like the strand pasta, the shaped pasta should be cooked within an hour of being shaped or frozen.

Farfalle

1. Cut sheet of dough into 1- by 1½-inch rectangles, using fluted cutter to cut short side of rectangle. 

2. Place index finger of one hand in center of rectangle. Using thumb and index finger of other hand, pinch in long sides of rectangle until they reach finger in center of pasta. Remove finger and firmly pinch center together.

Garganelli

1. Lay 1½-inch square of pasta diagonally on counter (for a decorative touch, lay pasta on clean hair comb or wire rack to create ridges).

2. Wrap corner of square around pen or pencil, and with gentle pressure push away from you until pasta is completely wrapped around pen. Slide shaped pasta off pen and repeat.

Maltagliati

1. With short end of pasta sheet facing you, cut pasta at a 45-degree diagonal into 1-inch strips.

2. Cut pasta sheet again, perpendicular to first cut, to create rough diamond-shaped pieces of pasta.

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