The rewards of making fresh egg pasta are far out of proportion to the amount of effort required. The task is made easy with the use of a food processor and an inexpensive manual pasta machine. Here are a few tips to make your first experience rolling the dough a little easier.
• Don’t skip the first few passes through the widest setting of the rollers. This kneads the dough, developing the gluten and helping it become more elastic.
• If the dough sticks to the rollers, dust it with a little flour.
• If a small tear appears in the dough, patch the tear and roll the dough through the same setting of the pasta machine again. For larger tears, wad the sheet into a ball, flatten it with your palm, and start again, beginning with the widest setting of the rollers. Tears may occur if the dough is sticking to the rollers or you’re rolling too fast.
• You should be able to roll a small piece of dough from start to finished sheet in about 10 minutes. Try not to work more slowly than this, or the dough will start to dry out while you’re rolling it.
• You can roll out fresh pasta a day ahead of cooking. Make a stack of sheets, layering them between parchment paper dusted with semolina flour. (Semolina is a little coarser than regular flour and keeps everything from sticking.) Put the stack on a tray and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, until you’re ready to cut the pasta. I generally prefer not to use made-ahead pasta for ravioli, because it’s harder to seal than dough that you’ve just finished rolling. If you do want to use dough you’ve made in advance, be sure to moisten the ravioli sheets with a little water around the pockets of filling to get a good seal.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
Type of Dishfresh pasta
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 3 extra-large eggs
Put the flour in the bowl of a food processor. Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork. With the food processor running, add the beaten eggs in a steady stream. Process until the dough comes together and is smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. If the dough seems sticky, add a little more flour. Put the ball of dough in a bowl and cover with plastic. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Cover 5 of the pieces with plastic. Flatten the remaining piece of dough slightly with your hand, dust it with flour, and crank it through a manual pasta machine with the rollers set at their maximum distance apart, the #1 setting. Fold the dough in thirds as though you were folding a business letter and run it through the machine again, feeding the narrow side into the rollers. Repeat the process of folding and rolling 4 or 5 more times. This process kneads the dough and prepares it for the next step of thinning it. Don’t hesitate to sprinkle the dough with flour as necessary as you continue running it through the machine; you don’t want it to stick to the rollers.
Gradually roll the dough to the desired thinness, narrowing the distance between the rollers with each pass of the dough. If the dough tears, just patch it together and roll it through the same setting again, a little more slowly this time. If the dough sticks to the rollers, sprinkle it with flour. (You will soon get the feel for the right speed and the proper level of moisture to keep the dough rolling efficiently.) After you’ve rolled the dough through the #6 setting, it should be thin enough to cut into any string pasta. For ravioli, the dough should be rolled slightly thinner. If you have an older machine there may be only one more setting; otherwise, the machine may go up to #9. For ravioli, roll the dough through #7 if that’s your highest setting, or through #8. (I never use #9-the dough becomes too delicate to handle easily.)
Let the dough dry for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting it into noodles. Ravioli should be prepared while the dough is still moist. Transfer the cut noodles to a board or a sheet pan covered with a towel lightly dusted with flour.
2002 Jody Adams and Ken Rivard