Italians traditionally use “00” flour (doppio zero) to make fresh pasta. A soft-wheat flour, it is almost powdery and yields a particularly light and porous dough. If you cannot find it, unbleached all-purpose flour is the best substitute. You can make the dough by hand or with a food processor.
The recipe below yields 1 lb. pasta dough. To make 1 1/4 lb. dough, use 3 cups flour, a scant 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt, 5 eggs and 1 Tbs. olive oil, and proceed as directed.
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or “00” flour (see note above), plus more as needed
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tsp. olive oil
To make the dough by hand, measure the flour onto a work surface, mix in the salt and shape the flour into a mound. Using your fingertips, make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the center of the well and add the olive oil. Using a fork, beat until the eggs and oil are blended, making sure the liquid does not breach the walls of the well.
Using the fork, gradually draw the flour from the sides of the well into the egg mixture and beat gently, always in the same direction, to combine the flour with the liquid. Secure the wall of the well with your other hand until the liquid has absorbed enough flour that it will not flow over the wall.
When the mixture is too stiff to use the fork, begin using both hands, gradually drawing in the flour from the bottom of the wall, until you have a soft, moist, but not sticky ball of dough. If the dough will not absorb more flour without becoming stiff, do not use it all. If it is too soft, add more flour, a spoonful at a time. Clean the work surface, dust it lightly with flour and flatten the ball of dough into a disk.
To make the dough with a food processor, fit a food processor with the metal blade. Add all but 1/2 cup of the flour and the salt to the work bowl and pulse to mix. You will use the reserved 1/2 cup flour later to adjust the consistency of the dough.
Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and remove any stray shells. Add the olive oil; there is no need to stir. Pour the eggs and oil into the work bowl. Process until the flour is evenly moistened and crumbly, about 10 seconds. Test the dough by pinching it; if it is very sticky, add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, processing until it is incorporated. After about 30 seconds total, the dough should come together in a loose ball and feel moist but not sticky.
Dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove the ball of dough from the food processor and place it in the center of the floured surface. Using your hands, flatten the dough into a disk.
For both methods: Using the heel of your hand, push the dough down and away from you, fold it in half back toward you, rotate a quarter turn and repeat the kneading motion. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth and elastic.
Shape the dough into a ball, cover with an overturned bowl and let rest for 15 minutes before you roll it out. The gluten in the flour will relax, making the dough easier to roll. Do not let it rest longer or it will be too dry. Makes 1 lb. dough.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book, by Julia della Croce (Weldon Owen, 2010).