Mixing pasta dough/Photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman

How-to-make-pasta instructions almost always include putting flour on your counter or board, forming a well and cracking your eggs into the well.  I almost always wind up with egg white on my shoe when I do this.  It only dawned on me while working on the pasta dough ratio for Ratio that this well method was completely unnecessary and that I would never have to wipe egg white off my shoe again.  The dough is thoroughly mixed and kneaded till smooth so how you incorporate the eggs isn’t critical. I imagine the original reason for the well method was that it saved on cleaning a bowl, but I would rather clean a bowl than my shoe and floor.  The well method is romantic, encouraging a measure-by-eye attitude and evoking images of an Italian grandma in her apron making pasta just for you.  But I always weigh everything because it’s so much cleaner and easier and you need a bowl to measure in.

The pasta dough ratio is 3 parts flour, 2 parts egg.  So I crack 1 egg per serving into a bowl, then multiply that weight by 1.5 and add that much flour. If you are math challenged or simply love the convenience (as I am and do), simply plug the weight into your Ratio smartphone application (Iphone Ratio App & Android Ratio App) it will give you the flour you need. Or use the Marcella Hazan-recommended ratio of 1 cup of flour and two eggs. It helps to have a pasta machine, but the last person I watched make pasta at home for ravioli used a rolling pin and it was just as fast.

There’s something deeply satisfying about making your own pasta.  It’s a great transformation of flour and egg.  The dough is a pleasure to touch as it becomes smoother and smoother.  Like mayonnaise and stock you make at home, you can’t buy homemade pasta at the store.  Even pasta sold as fresh isn’t like the noodles you make at home.  If you want, you can do something cool, like an egg yolk ravioli.  Or this lasagna bolongese from Three Squabbling Asians (notice they use the well method). In summer you can make a quick tomato water sauce.  But simple is great too.  Homemade pasta with butter and veal salt is a dream.

I cook a lot of dried pasta, but every now and then, I want the particular pleasure and comfort that only homemade pasta delivers. (I can’t figure out how to make the below flickr slideshow go faster but you can click on the image to speed it up).

 

Pasta Dough

  • 9 ounces/255 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  1. Combine the flour and eggs in a bowl and mix them with your fingers to combine.
  2. When the dough comes together, knead it on a floured board or countertop, pressing it with the heel of your hand, folding it over, kneading, fold until it is velvety smooth.  This will take 5-10 minutes.
  3. Form the dough into a disk.  Put a towel or plastic wrap over the dough and let it rest on the counter for 20 to 60 minutes.  The dough can also be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
  4. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces, roll them into the desired thinness and cut as you wish.  You can cut your noodles using a pasta machine or with a knife.

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If you liked this post on pasta, check out these other links:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved

 

 

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59 Wonderful responses to “Homemade Pasta”

  • Melissa

    I needed this reminder of how simple fresh pasta is to make. Why no salt? Waiting for the pasta to absorb some in the water?

  • Linsey M.

    Beautiful pictures! We usually spend every other Sunday making fresh pasta. My kids love to make it. They like to experiment with different flavors. We have added fresh basil from our garden, lemon zest, etc. We mostly use the hand crank pasta roller, which makes the best noodles. You can’t beat the texture or the flavor.

  • withinseason

    Good call on the portion size tip – we’ve always managed to have way too much. We let it dry out and have it around for later, but I find myself wondering how long it’s still good to eat if we do that.. Do you know?

    • Diane

      Hi, withinseason! My mother had five kids so all of her pasta was eaten immedately. But my grandmother’s pasta was made once a week and then half was dried in nests and then stored in a paper bag for days. It was perfectly fine, but drying it over a half day or so in the nest is important.

  • Phil

    I’ve always done it in a bowl for the same reason, but I still go through the trouble of making the well in the flour, etc. Even though it always seemed unnecessary. Don’t know why, just because it was ingrained in my head I guess.

  • honeybee

    Ah! Memories of my dear Italian grandmother and great-grandmother. Dressed in long, white restaurant aprons, they did, indeed, use the well method and measured the ingredients with their hands. Those old pros never got any eggs on the floor or their shoes, though! :)

    @withinseason: we always frozen any extra fresh pasta without any problems.

  • Dean

    Thanks, Michael. Homemade pasta is so easy and so rewarding. I’m glad I’m not the only one who abandoned the well method. I got egg and flour everywhere. A couple of suggestions. It’s easy to knead the dough by pressing it into a disk then running it through the pasta machine several (7-10) times set on its widest setting. Resting the dough after kneading is critical, and it gives me the time to make the sauce. Adding a small amount (i.e., 1TB per 1.5 cups flour) of good olive oil to the dough adds a subtle richness to the taste. Now that it’s spring, I often add chopped fresh herbs.

  • Carri

    I inherited an Atlas hand crank machine from my mother in law, who insisted she never used it. As a matter of fact it sat in my kitchen drawer until my kids pulled it out and made a lovely fresh pasta dinner for my husband and I’s anniversary a few years back. It has become a favorite cooking project, especially if we want to wow dinner guests. And amazingly easy, we don’t fully knead our dough by hand, instead we just pull it together into a ball and knead a few times, the let sit covered 30 minutes. Run it through the largest setting of the pasta maker about 10 times, folding it over on itself after each pass (added bonus: this is a great way to keep a 10 year old occupied!), it’s cool how silky it becomes. You can then reduce the size with each pass until you get your desired thickness.

  • Chad

    Fresh pasta rocks but also Sheri and I make and dry our own – wec can use any leftover herbs and such that way. In fact having wood oven lasagna from home made parsley and basil noodles and and bolognese very close to the one mentioned tonight for supper (comfort food to follow my dentist appt)

  • Evan D.

    3 Questions:

    1. Do you really need to use 00 flour or will AP work?
    2. Is there a benefit to using higher fat eggs?
    3. Does the freshness of the egg make a difference on dough? IE does a really fresh egg work better, worse or same as a couple of weeks old.

    • ruhlman

      i prefer ap flour. a fattier egg might make pasta more tender, but don’t know. freshness of eggs not a critical issue.

  • David F

    I’d never made pasta until I bought your book. I’ve never been able to get it thin enough (as I only have a rolling pin, and not a pasta machine), but I still love the taste and texture. Thank you!

  • Brian Silvey

    I started out with AP and have gradually, over time gone over to Semolina from Bob’s Redmill. It gives greater texture to the finished pasta. It is a bit harder to knead, but starting it in the food processor helps soften it up.

    Michael, what do you do with the pasta after you’ve rolled it out? I’ve seen and heard several different methods. I personally like to roll it out and then let it dry a bit on the counter, fillping it every ten minutes or so until it gets a somewhat leathery feel and then cut it with a pizza cutter. But I’m always looking for new ideas.

    Brian

  • Diane

    Thank you, Michael, for mentioning Marcella Hazan’s ratio, which I’ve been using since moving away from Mom’s in the mid 70′s. Has kept my husband happy for many years!

  • Victoria

    Michael,

    I have always made my homemade pasta in the food processor, so I am going to give your bowl method a try. Looks great.

    I have a BeeBo cavatelli maker, which I only used for the first time about three months ago after having it sit on the shelf for, literally, years. I Googled “how to make cavatelli,” and found a YouTube video of someone using his KitchenAid meat grinder with the sausage stuffer attached. He put the dough in the KitchenAid, and uniform ropes of pasta came out, which were perfect for running through the hand-turned cavatelli maker.

    • Mary Beth

      Victoria, I LOVE the cavatelli cranking machine! I have a vintage Vitantonio cavatelli machine that I picked up at a thrift shop. I had trouble using a regular pasta dough recipe for it- instead, had best luck with the slightly softer recipe that came with the machine (and in the BeeBo instructions) that uses ricotta and one egg. You also have to cook this kind of pasta a lot longer than other fresh pasta- up to 14 minutes. And even though the booklet calls it a “cavatelli gnocchi machine”, it is certainly *not* gnocchi- this is a different type of pasta altogether, and one which I hope becomes revived again on its own merits. Lidia (Lidia’s Italy) had a recent show on making cavatelli by hand, the first reference I’d seen to it on any of the Italian cooking shows. But as you said, there are several very helpful YouTube vidoes that show how easy it is to make this particular pasta.

      Also, Michael, I too always thought that the one thing about making traditional pasta dough is that you *must* let it rest for a minimum of 15 minutes- 30 is better. In playing around with the cavatelli dough, because it is a little softer, it doesn’t require the rest period.

      About the eggs: since I now get fresh eggs every week from a friend in the country, the eggs are all sizes, and quite non-standard, including the occasional double-yolk egg. Using the weight of the eggs to determine the ratio of flour to add will make this calculation so much easier.

      Sometimes if I don’t have time to roll and cut a whole recipe of fresh pasta before dinner time, such as when I want to make it for one ore two servings. I just wrap and store the remaining fresh dough in the fridge for up to three days. I have had no problems with running the leftover dough through the Atlas later when I have more time. I usually let it sit out (still wrapped) for a bit so it’s more pliable, but I have even been able to crank it out straight from the fridge. Wonderful if I am craving some fresh pasta for lunch fast!

      • Cindy

        As to letting it rest, I’d assume that’s to relax it when you are rolling it out by hand. Otherwise it is kind of like rolling out an inner tube. We’ve never let it rest when we use a hand-cranked roller.

  • Karen Downie Makley

    if you roll it out by hand, without a pasta maker, do you reccomend using parchment or plastic wrap or will it peel nicely off of the cutting board? i am unreasonably intimidated by scratch pasta noodles because one ravioli dough attempt, couple of years ago, was a bit of a failure.

  • Terrie

    Michael,
    I usually use durum flour for pasta, what is the difference between using that and all purpose? Also, I usually use unbleached, all purpose flour. Would that work or do you need to use regular bleached AP flour? I’ve only begun experimenting with fresh pasta since Christmas. My gift from my husband was a pasta roller…sweet!

    • ruhlman

      durham a hearty high protein wheat, works great. all flour works fine, results differ a little.

  • Mitch Goldstein

    Michael, I have the same pasta roller you have (based on your pics.) How thin do you roll the pasta? I only go to the 2nd from the thinnest. Do you change how thin you go it depending on if you use the fettucini or the spaghetti cutter?

  • John Ross

    You know how the Japanese roll out their soba sheets with a wooden pin, how the sheet is rolled around the pin? I was wondering if that technique would work with egg pasta, or is it too delicate? Any thoughts?

  • Ed

    Thank you for this, as always, Michael. I do have a question: Every time I make pasta it comes out fine, but if I try to dry it, it gets very, very brittle and breaks off the drying rack. If I try to store it fresh in the refrigerator without drying, regardless of how much flour or cornmeal I toss it with, it sticks into a giant clump. How do you dry/store pasta without these problems?

    • ruhlman

      use semolina flour if you want to dry it. if you want to store it, toss it with corn meal or semolina, fold small portions on a sheet pan and freeze, then transfer to plastic bags. Boil straight out of the freezer.

  • Paul C

    I use the ratio of 1 egg (or two yolks) per 100g flour. Usually end up with a bit of flour left over and use this to flour the bench, the pasta while laminating etc.

    I’ve made it with durum, semolina, spelt, strong bread, ap etc. I’ve settled on using king arthur bread flour, or if I want to be a bit more special I use half spelt half durum and use only the egg yolks.

    Also I find adding a little salt to the dough is a good idea as it cooks too quickly to absorb too much salt from the salted water its cooked in.

  • Abigail Blake

    I have to disagree with the need to freeze homemade pasta noodles. If you make sure to let the pasta dry thoroughly (overnight is good), all that’s needed is to put the dried pasta in an airtight container and store it in a dry place. I find that really large cookie tins are good for storing pasta.

    I too use the 100 grams of flour to 1 egg ratio because that’s what I was taught by an Italian friend. With regard to the question from John Ross above – yes on rolling the dough around the pin. There are good illustrations of this technique in Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

  • Carolyn Z

    Spanker, spankee, spanked!

    Sorry off topic again!

    Any plans to update the android version of Ratio, the app?!

  • Kimber

    ‘Well’, this is a simply kneaded, back to basics style of making pasta with tack, or, tactile feel that touches not just our stomach but passion in preparing it, sorta like play – dough for the cooks soul…..

  • JimD

    Making pasta is one of my favorite kitchen things. Mario Batali says that he has all of his newest cooks start on making pasta. He has them knead the dough for 10 minutes no stopping. I started doing the same thing.

    It’s magic to watch flour and egg turn into a rough ball then into a shaggy dough then presto at about 3 minutes it smoothes out, but at minute 7 it becomes silky and luxurious. The last three minutes I use to get the dough nice and smooth. Then it goes in the fridge for up to 2 hours. I do use a pasta machine to get the thickness right.

  • Aaron

    Just another one of the ways reading Ratio has transformed our kitchen. I find that every so often I need to make this. Kind of weird. I use it for ravioli, chicken and noodles, fetuccini. I love the way the dough feels so smooth when it is ready to rest.

  • Tim R

    Mr. Ruhlman,

    I must say that I read about making pasta from you two to three years ago. I used what I thought was your original ratio of 1 cup flour to two eggs and never looked back. I am a pasta making whiz now, and while my friends like to gang up on me about my passion for it, they truly know very little about the satisfaction it of bringing eggs and flour together. I think that it works perfectly, I like to mix in a little over a third of a cup of semolina for added flavor, texture, and color. I find that a dough of purely semolina and egg does not turn out that well.

    It’s one of the best things you could ever eat.

    Thanks again,

    Tim

  • Paul C

    For those that are intimidated by pasta (and also bread) a few of Jamie Oliver’s books have really simple, easy to follow instructions for making both pasta and bread. I think that’s where I got my 1 egg per 100g flour ratio.

  • connie

    I’ve always used one egg (large or extra large in US) and 100g flour to make pasta, per person. About the same as you, so thanks for the tips!

  • madonnadelpiatto

    if I may add my two Italian cents, the trick is in the ratio more than in the weight because eggs can be bigger or smaller and flour can have more or less moisture. The basic Italian recipe is not 100 gr flour to one egg, but actually can be recited as follows: 1 egg per person and as much flour as an egg can take. Fresh pasta in Central Italy is made with 00 flour, similar to your pastry flour. The 00 flour is finely ground and as a result the pasta dries out faster, it’s easier to handle and retains more body. Semolina flour makes more rustic noodle and has a lovely rustic texture but it’s not suitable to ravioli as they will more easily fall apart. Regular flour makes a more sticky dough so you need to use more flour when rolling and dry the noodles for a longer time before cooking. And Michael you are so right, no store bought product compares with fresh homemade pasta, so realxing, so good for body and soul.

  • yuan

    Hey Michael,

    Thanks for checking us out, and for the words of encouragement! So glad to hear you like our blog. The next time you’re in the Bay Area, we’d love to make you dinner!

    Yours in Deliciousness,
    The Three Squabbling Asians

  • luis

    Nice…. very nice way to make pasta and a ratio to boot. Wonderful stuff Michael. Can’t wait to try it. Time challenged, always putting pasta on a manana to do sheet…. This is simple and good.
    Nice work bro.

  • Russ H

    You should mention one other viture of homemade pasta. In these times when money is VERY tight and many are out of work, homemade pasta is CHEAP! I mean REALLY CHEAP! A few cups of flour and a few eggs? Cook in some boiling water? A little salt and sauce of whatever kind? You can feed your family for PENNIES. Really makes you rethink buying that pasta at the store, not jusyt for tast but also for savings! Just one of the wonders of cooking at home.

    • Mary Beth

      Kristyn, the Atlas machines (hand cranking) are relatively inexpensive and should be reliable for years and years. The biggest problem that people have is finding a surface to clamp them onto. There has to be a lip on the edge of your counter that will accommodate the C-clamp. I have heard of people using an ironing board for this task- just cover it with a towel and you’ll have a great surface to work on.
      (IMO) the strength required to roll out pasta dough takes more than I can manage easily so I’ll take the hand-cranking Atlas any day! Also, these little pasta machines show up at thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, and the like, if you are so inclined to look there for one.

  • marc

    Try using Rice flour to dust the cut pasta. Works wonderfully.

  • Mary Beth

    For pastaphiles who are still interested in reading all they can find on the topic, “The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken” by Laura Schenone is a nicely obsessive (and fascinating ) account of all she learned about her family ravioli recipe. It’s also memoir and sort of a culinary anthropological discourse of searching for the origins and adaptations of ravioli and pasta doughs The reason I am mentioning it here is she travels to Italy several times to learn how to hand roll pasta dough. She believes that this skill is best learned alongside someone who learned alongside *their* mother or grandmother. She wanted to document this skill now before it is lost, because even in Italy, people are using food processors and pasta machines to make their pasta dough. She believes that there is a difference in the hand-rolled dough, that it is more supple and silky than machine rolled. (You can google her name – somewhere online is a video of her explaining this hand rolling process.)
    One other great resource- actually, more accessible for the purpose of this topic of “just get in there and make your own pasta” – is Lidia Bastianich’s chapter on homemade pasta in her book “Lidia’s Family Table”. She does a wonderful breakdown of different levels of enrichment with egg and suggests several different kinds of flour and grains. There are also pretty good photos and descriptions of using the pasta machine.

  • George

    The problem I have with my hand-cranked pasta machine is that during cutting the noodles like to stick to the cutting wheels and get jammed up inside the machine. Aside from wrecking my noodles, it is nigh impossible to clean the machine afterward. What do you supposed I’m doing wrong? Not letting the dough dry long enough after rolling? Not using enough flour?

    • Mary Beth

      George, it sounds like it could be that the dough is too soft in the first place, in which case you’d need to add more flour during the mixing stage. It could also be that the sheets of dough need to dry out longer before running them through the cutters, in which case, sometimes they dry too much and crack when you try to pass them through the cutters.
      One way you can “fix” too-soft dough is to flour the length of rolled dough, fold it in half, and run it through the rollers a couple of times, with a little flour sprinkled over the expanse of dough each time.
      Also:
      I find that the pasta cutters don’t always work well when I roll my dough out to the thinnest setting (#7 on my Atlas). But your issue sounds more like dough that is too sticky.
      Of course, you can always use a pizza cutter to hand-cut your pasta into the wider types, or roll up the lengths of stretched dough, jelly-roll style, and cut them into strands with a sharp knife. Hope this helps.

    • Mary Beth

      Thanks for posting this. She sure makes it look easy. I loved seeing how she did that “slap slappy” thing with the pasta dough around the roller.

  • Tim F

    Another vote here for doing most of the ‘kneading’ with the machine. I give it a few turns by hand until the ingredients are evenly mixed, then start running it through the machine on the widest setting, folding in half each time. Give it a rest half way through. It only takes a few minutes to become perfectly smooth. I might be missing out on some subtle textural differences that way but after a long day at work it’s hard to care ;)

  • Eric D

    I have read that some people only use egg yolks. This gives the pasta a richer feel and taste. Anyone try that.

    My problem is knowing how long to cook fresh pasta. Dried pasta is easy to tell because it goes from hard to soft as it cooks. But fresh is already soft. Any tips for telling when it is done cooking?

  • mart

    Very interesting but egg size differs a lot wouldn’t it be better to weigh the egg as well. I gather from your story that the ratios are by weight. Different flours absorp different amounts of liquid shouldn’t one have to compensate for that as well?