My mother never measured anything… especially flour when it came to making pasta. Each time we made pasta, I would have my little notebook out and ask her how much flour she was putting in, and the response was the same every time.
“You only put as much flour as the eggs want to drink today.”
In other words, there is no exact amount; it can vary depending on the egg size, on the type of flour, and even on the humidity in the air that day.
So this recipe is just an approximate amount of flour. Do not mix it all with the eggs at once. Start with 3 cups of flour and go from there.
Rule of thumb: estimate 1 egg per person for a main course, and 2 eggs to 1 cup flour.
4 cups flour*
8-10 jumbo eggs
Mound the flour in the middle of a wooden board. Make a well in the center of the flour. Break the eggs right into the center of the well. Beat the eggs with a fork until they are completely incorporated.
Using the fork gradually start to pull in flour from the sides of the well, slowly incorporating the flour with the eggs. Mix in only as much flour as the eggs can absorb. You may not need all the flour.
Once the dough starts to come together, begin kneading until smooth and elastic, using flour if the dough gets sticky.
You want to be continuously kneading the dough in a loose ball form, you should always be incorporating a new corner and folding it into the dough.
You want to work the dough for a total of about 8 minutes. During the kneading if the dough gets too nervous and tense (which is when it becomes too elastic and pulls back onto itself); you need to let it relax so that it is easier to work with, so set the dough for 5 minutes under a dry dishcloth and let rest.
Your dough should contain a nice ratio of air pockets throughout. If it does not, you may have used too much flour and kneaded too roughly. Allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes before you make pasta, covered under a dry dishcloth.
Using a Pasta Machine
Divide the rested dough into 6 equal parts. With the palm of your hand, press the dough as thin as you can get it with your hand.
Starting on the largest opening of the pasta machine (typically the lowest number on the dial), feed the dough through the machine, one piece at a time.
Fold each piece into 3 parts like a letter. Lightly flour each side, and repeat feeding the dough through the machine 4-5 times until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Use flour on the outside of the folded dough each time before it goes back into the machine if it appears that it will stick. Make sure that you repeat the same number of times with each sheet, so that your thickness will be uniform.
Turn the dial on the machine to the next number, making your opening one notch smaller. Feed each piece of dough through the machine one time only, and do not fold it this time. Continue this process of narrowing the machine opening until you reach the thinness you want. Sprinkle with flour when necessary. It’s important to put each piece through the same number of times so each sheet of dough is a consistent thickness and texture.
Lay the finished pasta sheets onto a lightly floured surface while working, and cover the sheets with a kitchen towel as you go along.
Your machine should have an opening or attachment that is used for cutting the sheets into a shape of long pasta. Feed each sheet through the desired shape attachment one at a time. Lay the noodles on kitchen towels until you are ready to cook. Shake off excess flour right before cooking by tossing the noodles lightly in colander. Make sure you have a large enough pot with a rapid boil to cook the pasta in. Fresh pasta needs a larger pot and more water than dried pasta because it has a tendency to stick together more easily if not.