Thinning Pasta Dough Using a Long Rolling Pin

Getting the Dough Ready. You will find it simpler to work with dough that is fully relaxed. When you have finished kneading the ball of dough as described, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or as much as 2 hours. Remove the wrapping when you are ready to begin rolling it out. Should you find the dough slightly moist, do not add flour, but knead it briefly until the excess dampness disappears.

Part One. Put the dough within comfortable reach in the center of the work table and with the palm of your hand pummel it two or three times firmly to flatten it slightly. Place the rolling pin across the top of the dough, about one third of the way in toward its center. The pin should be parallel to the edge of the table near you. To open out the ball of dough, push the pin energetically forward, let it roll backward to its starting point, and push forward again, repeating the operation four or five times (photo A). Do not let the pin roll onto or past the far edge of the dough. Turn the dough a full quarter turn, and repeat the above operation. Continue to turn the gradually flatter disk of dough after every three or four passes of the pin, at first a full quarter turn, then less, but without changing direction. If this is done correctly, the ball of dough will spread out into an evenly flattened, regularly circular shape. When its diameter reaches about 8 to 9 inches, you are ready for the next movement.

Part Two. You have flattened the dough; now you must begin to stretch it. Hold the near edge of the dough down with one hand. Place the rolling pin at the opposite, far edge, laying it down parallel to your side of the table. One hand will work the pin while the other will act as a stop, holding down the edge of the dough nearest you.

Curl the far edge of the dough over the pin. Start rolling the pin toward you, taking up no more dough than needed to fit snugly under the pin. With your other hand, keep the near edge of the dough from moving. Roll the pin part of the way back to you, then with the heel of your palm push it forward, stretching the sheet of dough held taut between one hand on the table and the other on the pin (photo B). Work rapidly, without interrupting the action. Do not apply any downward pressure whatsoever and do not let the hand working the pin rest on the dough longer than 2 or 3 seconds on the same spot.

Roll the pin back to you, stop, then push it forward to stretch the dough; wrap more dough around the pin, rolling it back toward you, stop and push forward, stretching the dough; continue to repeat this procedure until you have wrapped all the dough around the pin. Then, while the dough is curled around the pin, rotate the pin a full half turn—180 degrees—so that one end points toward you, and unfurl the dough, opening it up flat. Once again, place the rolling pin at the opposite, far edge of the dough, laying it down parallel to your side of the table.
Repeat the rolling and stretching operation you performed before, until the dough is once again completely wrapped around the pin. Rotate the pin another 180 degrees in the same direction as before, uncurl the dough from it, and repeat the full procedure once again. Continue thus until the sheet of dough has been stretched to a diameter of about 12 inches. Proceed immediately to the next phase.

Part Three. This is the decisive final step, the one in which you’ll stretch the sheet of dough to nearly double its preceding diameter.

The circle of dough is lying flat before you on the table. Place the rolling pin at its far end, parallel to your edge of the table. Curl the end of the dough around the center of the pin and roll the pin toward you, taking up with it about 4 inches of the sheet of dough. Cup your hands lightly over the center of the pin, lifting your fingers to keep them from touching it (photo C). Roll the pin forward and away from you, unfurling the dough, and then back toward you, taking up again no more than the original 4 inches of dough. At the same time that you are rolling the pin back and forth, slide your hands, with fingers always uplifted, away from each other and toward the ends of the pin; then slide them back together toward the middle of the pin, quickly repeating the motion a number of times.

As your hands move away from the middle, let the heels of your palms brush against the surface of the dough, dragging it, pulling it, in fact stretching it toward the ends of the pin. At the same time that you are sliding your hands from the middle toward the ends, you must roll the pin back toward you. Bear in mind that the pressure in this motion is directed sideways, not downward. If you press down on the dough, it will stick, not stretch.
The dough can be stretched in only one direction. When the hands move back toward the middle of the pin, they should be floating over the dough, barely skimming it. You want to stretch the dough outward, toward the ends of the pin, and not drag it back toward the middle. While you are bringing your hands back over the middle of the pin, roll the pin forward, away from you.
Your hands must flick out and back very rapidly, making contact with the dough only with the heel of the palm, applying not weight, but pull, as they move outward. All the while, you are rocking the pin forward and back.
Take up another few inches of dough on the pin and repeat the combined motion: The hands moving out and in, the pin rocking forward and back.
When you have taken up and stretched all but the last few inches of dough, rotate the pin 180 degrees, unfurl the sheet of dough, opening it up flat, and start again from the far end, repeating the entire stretching procedure described above.
As the sheet of dough becomes larger, let it hang over the near side of the table. It will act as a counterweight and contribute to the stretching action. But do not lean against it, because you might break it. As you take up dough on the rolling pin from the far end, gradually allow the near end of the sheet to slide back onto the table.

When you have rotated the pasta sheet a complete turn and it is all fully stretched, open it up flat on the table. The rim of the sheet is likely to be thicker than the central portion (photo D). Run over it with the rolling pin to make it uniformly thin. Should there be creases anywhere, iron them out with the pin. If there are any tears, do not be dismayed; it happens under the most expert hands, and they can be repaired. Gently pull their edges together, narrowly overlap them, and seal the patch either with a moistened fingertip or by running the pin over it or both.

It may take longer to read this than to do it, because the action itself should be executed in 10 minutes or less for a two-egg dough.