1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon milk
Wooden Surface (optional)
Making pasta dough from scratch sounds daunting. In reality it is quite simple, it just takes time. In addition to the delicious flavor of handmade pasta you will be able to humbly brag to your guests or friends that the pasta they are eating came from no box, but was made by theirs truly.
This recipe is adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook.
Start by mounding the flour on a clean surface, a wooden board if you have it. Make a well with an opening about 6 inches in diameter. Make sure all the walls around the opening are solid and about 1 inch wide.
I found that having flour on the bottom of the well helps the eggs not stick to the surface that you're working on. Try to make the bottom layer of flour thin, you'll want to use most of the flour for the walls of the well. I used my Epicurean Cutting Board in place of a wooden surface.
Pour the egg yolks, egg, oil and the milk into the well. Break up the eggs with your fingers and once they are broken apart, start swirling the eggs around in a circular motion, making sure to keep them within the well and not spilling over. The swirling will gradually pull the flour from the sides. It's important that the flour isn't incorporated too quickly, or the dough will be lumpy. Take your time. You will need to push the sides of the well in, little by little, to maintain the gradual mixing in of flour, but still keeping the eggs inside the well. The mixture will thicken and eventually get too tight to keep turning with your fingers.
This is a tricky step. Stirring the eggs in the beginning is fine, but it takes awhile for the flour to thicken the eggs. I'm sure if I had more patience the well would suffice and it would work like a charm. However, I have little patience so I knock in flour from the sides of the well to quicken the process.
If the well breaks I quickly try to mound some flour in the gap. If it doesn't work I use my free hand to contain the eggs.
When the dough begins to thicken, use a pastry scraper (or a flat spatula) to lift the flour up and over the dough that is starting to form. Cut in the flour with the scraper. At this point, with your hands, bring the shaggy dough together and form it into a ball.
Even if your well breaks and your dough is a little messy, the dough will still come together.
Knead the dough a few times by pressing it in a forward motion with the heels of your hands, not folding it over on itself like you would do with bread. Re-shape the dough into a ball and repeat the kneading motion several times. The dough will be moist, but not sticky. Let it rest for a few minutes while you clean your work surface.
Kneading and reshaping can be a laborious and time intensive task. To save a little time I developed a technique to expedite the process. Once i knead the dough it resembles an oval. I fold in the two long sides and then the two other sides to make a odd ball shape and then I knead again. Occasionally I'll reshape the dough into a ball and continue kneading.
Here is where the real kneading begins: Dust the work surface with flour. Knead the dough in the same manner as before, pushing it forward with the heels of your hands, and re-shaping it into a ball. Keep kneading in this way until the dough becomes silky smooth. The dough is ready when you can pull a finger across the top of it and it wants to snap back into place. This process will take from 15 to 20 minutes, but knead as a long as it takes to pass the pull test. If not, the dough could collapse when resting.
Depending on how hard you pull your finger across the dough, it will not full snap back. What you are looking for it to snap back a little. If you lightly press on the dough with your thumb the dough should spring back.
Double-wrap the dough in plastic wrap to ensure that it does not dry out. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before rolling it through a pasta machine (or rolling out by hand). The dough can be made a day ahead, wrapped and refrigerated, but bring to room temperature before you continue.
After you have the dough made you can make almost any type of pasta, provided that you have the proper equipment!