Kneading

Pasta quality depends on how you knead the dough. You can knead it using the rollers of the pasta machine, and you can knead it in the food processor, but to obtain the matchless texture unique to pasta made at home, you must knead it by hand. If the only egg pasta you have had has been the so-called “fresh” kind you buy, or entirely machine-kneaded pasta, whether it is made in a restaurant’s kitchen or even in your own, then you have never felt under your teeth the resilient body, the sinew, of true homemade pasta. Dough needs the warmth of your hands and of the wood surface on which you work it. It responds to those as it cannot to the metallic touch of a steel cylinder or blade. The procedure is not as daunting as it may sound. It takes just 8 minutes and, physically, it can be a deeply satisfying rhythmic exercise. It is good not just for the dough, but for you as well.

Place the mass of flour and eggs near you on the work surface. With your fingers bent, push forward against it using the heel of your palm, giving it a lengthened, oblong shape (photo E). Fold the mass in half, give it a half turn, press hard against it with the heel of your palm again, and repeat the operation (photo F). Turn the ball of dough always in the same direction, either clockwise or counter-clockwise, as you prefer. When you have kneaded it thus for 8 full minutes, the dough is ready to be thinned in the machine, or rolled out with the long pasta pin.

If you are working with a large mass, divide it into two or more parts and knead one part completely before doing another. Keep any part of the mass you are not working with, or of the dough you have finished kneading, tightly covered in plastic wrap.
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