The classic pasta dough, or sfoglia, of Emilia-Romagna requires only two ingredients, flour and eggs. Bleached all-purpose flour yields a more tender dough than the unbleached variety. The dough can be made by hand or in a food processor, then rolled out with a wooden rolling pin or by machine. You can make pasta dough up to 2 days ahead. Or, if short of time, purchase ready-made fresh pasta sheets and cut as directed in individual recipes.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
- 4 large eggs, plus beaten egg as needed
MIXING THE DOUGH: Place the 2 cups flour in a mound on a clean work surface to mix the basic egg pasta by hand. Make a well in the center and add the 4 eggs to the well. Using a fork, beat the eggs, gradually incorporating small amounts of the flour from the interior wall of the well into the eggs. Working in a circular pattern, continue to incorporate flour, being careful to maintain the wall of flour so the eggs do not run over the edge.
Work the flour into the eggs until a smooth dough forms. Depending on the humidity, a little less or a little more flour may be needed. If less flour is needed, simply don’t incorporate all of it. If more is needed, sprinkle a little on top of the dough and knead it in.
On a clean surface, knead the dough until smooth, velvety and elastic, 1-2 minutes. Cover with a bowl to prevent drying and let the dough relax for 1 hour before rolling it out.
Place the 2 cups flour in a food processor fitted with the metal blade to mix the basic egg pasta. Lightly whisk the eggs just until blended in a bowl. Turn on the food processor to aerate the flour briefly, then pour in the eggs. Continue to process for a few seconds until the dough can be pressed into a ball. If the dough is too dry, add beaten egg, 1 teaspoon at a time, and pulse until the correct consistency is achieved. If too moist, add flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, and pulse. Remove the dough from the processor and knead briefly until the surface is smooth, velvety and elastic, about 1-2 minutes. Cover with a bowl to prevent drying and let the dough relax for 1 hour before rolling it out.
Use the pasta dough immediately, or wrap airtight and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Before using, unwrap the dough, cover with a bowl to prevent drying and bring to room temperature.
ROLLING AND CUTTING THE DOUGH: Cut the dough in half or thirds to roll and cut with a pasta machine. Cover unused dough with a bowl to prevent drying. Set the pasta machine rollers to their widest opening (number 1 on most machines) and feed one portion of the dough through the rollers.
Roll through once, fold the dough crosswise into thirds, turn it a quarter turn and roll through again.
Roll the sheet through one more time to strengthen the dough. Set the rollers to the next smaller opening and roll the dough through once. Continue in this manner, progressively setting the rollers to the next smaller opening and rolling the dough through once. On the first, third and fifth settings (numbers 1, 3 and 5), roll through twice to strengthen the dough.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8 or 1/16 inch (3 mm or 2 mm), the second-to-last and last settings on most machines, as specified.
If the dough ripples, too much dough is being pushed through the rollers, or the dough isn’t relaxed enough to be stretched. Cover the pasta sheet and allow it to relax for a few minutes, then return to the previous setting and roll through. If the dough repeatedly breaks, the gluten must be developed more. Knead the dough by hand and let it relax as before, then begin the rolling again.
For flat cuts such as pappardelle and tagliatelle, place the pasta sheet on a lightly floured board and let dry a little for easier cutting (15-20 minutes) while you roll out the remaining dough. Then adjust the blades to the desired width as directed in individual recipes and pass the sheets through the cutters. Gently separate the pasta strands and gather loosely into small piles. Let dry for 1 hour. Meanwhile, cut the remaining pasta sheets.
TO ROLL OUT AND CUT THE DOUGH BY HAND: Divide the dough in half or in thirds. Cover unused dough with a bowl to prevent drying. On a lightly floured board, roll out 1 portion of the dough 1/8-1/16-inch (3-2-mm) thick, or as specified in each recipe.
For flat cuts such as pappardelle and tagliatelle, place the pasta sheet on a lightly floured board and let dry a little for easy cutting (15-20 minutes) while you roll out the remaining dough.
Using 1 pasta sheet at a time and beginning at a long end, loosely roll up the dough, making folds every 2 1/2 inches (6 cm).
Cut the roll crosswise into slices the width of the pasta specified in each recipe. Gently separate the pasta strands and gather loosely into small piles. Let dry for 1 hour. Meanwhile, cut the remaining pasta sheets.
FOR FILLED PASTA: Use the pasta sheets made by either the machine or the hand method immediately to prevent drying, while filling and cutting the pasta dough as directed in individual recipes.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
604 calories; 11g total fat; 425mg cholesterol; 128mg sodium; 97g carbohydrates; 3g fiber; 25g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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