Pasta Dough 101
I've hesitated to share my pasta dough recipes for several reasons, primarily because they're always changing, incredibly dependent on feel, the environment, and myriad other factors, and recipes don't tend to do pasta dough justice. I do, however, believe that anyone can make great fresh pasta with knowledge, patience, and practice, so due to popular demand, here they are. Note that all ingredients are weighed because yes, it does make a difference, and volume measurements will not yield the same results. So if you don't already own a food scale, I highly recommend getting one for all your pasta (and cooking and baking) needs!
Egg Pasta Dough
Used for: most stuffed pastas and long strands such as tagliatelle and pappardelle, as well as some short hand-formed shapes like garganelli
400 grams '00' soft wheat flour (all-purpose can also be used)
50 grams semola rimacinata flour or semolina flour (optional, or use 450 grams soft wheat)
255 grams egg (approximately 4 whole eggs and 2-3 egg yolks, depending on egg size)
Flour and Water Pasta Dough
With durum wheat, used for: Strascinati ("dragged" ) shapes such as orecchiette, many short hand-formed shapes like cavatelli and lorighittas, some stuffed pastas such as curlurgiones, some long strands such as sagne ritorte
450 grams durum wheat flour (semola rimacinata or semolina)
225 grams warm water
With soft wheat, used for: select hand-formed shapes such as trofie and pici
450 grams '00' soft wheat flour or all-purpose flour
For trofie: 225 grams warm water
For pici: 215 grams warm water; 10 grams extra-virgin olive oil
Specialty Flour Pasta Doughs
I also incorporate specialty flours such as einkorn, spelt, red fife, and rye—as well as gluten-free flours like chestnut and chickpea—into my doughs, particularly when a mix of flours or grano arso ("burnt wheat") are traditionally used for a pasta shape. In every case, I use a base of either '00' soft wheat or semola rimacinata flour depending on the pasta to ensure proper texture and workability.
Other Sources of Hydration
I also experiment with wine, vegetable purees, and other liquids to impart color and flavor. Due to the added water content, using these in egg-based dough will impart a chewier, softer texture to the pasta (which can be delicious!).
The method for making pasta dough by hand applies to all of the aforementioned recipes and is, more or less, as follows:
Weigh and combine flour(s) in a medium-large mixing bowl. Weigh the liquid; for egg dough, whisk the eggs and yolks together. Make a wide well with your fist in the center of the flour and add the liquid. Using a fork, gradually incorporate the flour into the well in a circular motion until a thick, smooth, custard-like batter forms. When it's too thick to continue with the fork, cut the remaining flour into the center of the well with a bench scraper or your hands as consistently as possible and transfer everything to a flat surface. Knead the dough vigorously until smooth, firm, and well-combined, about 10 minutes. (You may need a small amount of water if the dough is too dry or a dusting of flour if it is at all sticky; add both with your fingertips on any dry or wet patches.) Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours at room temperature. If storing overnight, refrigerate and bring back up to room temperature before use.
Photo and video by Mackenzie Smith Kelley.