Recipe Notes Serves 6 to 8
4½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tablespoons salt
Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl; empty the contents of the bowl into a pile on a wood or marble workspace and make a well in the center of the mound. Break eggs into the well, and with a fork, beat the eggs gently; with your other hand, keep shoring up the sides of the flour mound. Slowly incorporate the flour “wall” while beating the eggs. If the “dam” bursts, don’t panic. Just corral the eggs with the fork and keep working them into the flour mixture. It will turn into a thick paste. Now, using your hands, continue to mix it until you can shape it into a ball. (The texture will feel like it’s made of flakes of dough.) Set the dough aside.
It’s important to clean off your hands and wash them thoroughly, then scrape and clean your workspace. Place the dough back on the cleaned workspace and cut it in half—this will make it a bit easier to knead.
I find that the kneading is a bit of a workout! Push down hard with the heel of your hand and stretch the dough away from you. Then fold it back toward you and give the dough ball a quarter turn. Press down, stretch, fold, and turn again; keep kneading for about 10 minutes. All this pummeling helps to distribute the moisture and makes the dough nice and smooth.
Shape the dough into a neat ball, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 2 hours.
Rolling the dough: Flour your work surface well and grab a rolling pin. The motion is very much like rolling out a pie crust, pressing down and out from the center of the doughy disk, and turning the disk after each rolling/stretching pass. A marble rolling pin helps to flatten the dough a little faster and more easily.
Keep dusting the board with flour as you turn and roll the dough. You may want to recruit some extra hands (and muscle) to help roll this sheet of dough until it’s the thickness of a piece of good stock paper. Cover it with a kitchen towel for 5 to 10 minutes to let it rest and dry slightly.
Cutting the dough: Be sure the dough is dry enough so it doesn’t stick together when you fold it. Take one edge of the dough and loosely fold over to make a 3-inch wide fold. Keep going until the whole thing is folded.
Using a sharp knife, press down evenly and cut ¼- to ½-inch strips from the rolled dough. As you cut the roll, open up the noodles to let them dry further on your workspace or on a drying rack. You can also take small bundles of pasta strands and loop them loosely around your fingers to form “bird’s nests.”
Your beautiful fresh pasta is ready to cook! Gently drop the pasta into boiling salted water (a good big pinch of salt), and start testing it as soon as it returns to a boil. One thing about fresh pasta: It cooks very quickly!
The best way to test the doneness is to simply fish out a strand and bite into it. If it has a nice “chew” without a hard core, it’s done.