To make orecchiette the traditional way, precise quantities are seldom used; the old guideline is to use roughly one handful of flour per person, but obviously this depends on the size of your hands.
about 400g/14oz/3½cups hard durum-wheat flour
Set aside a handful of flour for dusting, then mound the rest of the flour on to the work surface. Make a hollow in the middle of the mound. Add tepid water to the hollow. Using your hands, gradually mix the water with the surrounding flour to make a dough, adding more flour from the reserved quantity, if needed. The dough is ready for kneading when a thumb, inserted into it, comes away cleanly. Knead for 10 minutes, then form into a ball.
Squash the ball of dough on one side until it forms a point, applying your body’s weight while rolling it. Continue rolling the point until it forms a long tubular shape. Roll this until a long string of dough, the thickness of your little finger, stretches out from the side of the ball, an arm’s length long.
Using a non-serrated knife, cut the length of dough into sections the size of a finger joint from tip to knuckle.
With the blade at an angle of 30 degrees, press down on the dough while pulling it backwards. This thins the dough and rolls it around the knife to form an oval. Invert it to look like an ear. Shape the remaining dough.
Place the orecchiette on a clean, floured cloth and leave to dry slightly before cooking. Alternatively, fully dry them out, then store in sealed jars for up to 1 year.