Basic Pasta Dough

This is a fantastic recipe for many different pasta noodles and types. It’s basic, but neither bland or boring; it’s flavorful, hearty and absolutely delicious. For new comers, it can be easy to find pasta making-from-scratch intimidating. I mean, how can something so delicious, be so easy to make? Once you get the hang of pasta, it really is that straightforward. Yes, it takes a bit of time, but I find it relaxing, and it is so well worth both the process and the wait. If you love pasta like I do, once you start making homemade noodles, going back to store-bought, just won’t be the same. Since I started making pasta at home, I literally have pasta cravings each week, so it’s a good thing I created a reliable and handy recipe that consistently yields beautiful and tasty noodles!

I admit, my first pasta dough adventure started out terribly flawed. I ended up with really dry, cracked, crumbly dough whomp, whomp. I was absolutely set on figuring this out. Maybe because I already had a pot of gorgeous bolognese simmering on the stove top; and it needed some cozy pasta to pair up with. I had a feeling too much flour and not enough moisture was the issue, which is crazy because my first recipe called for like 6 eggs and 3 cups of flour. I threw the whole batch away, took a deep breath, and started looking at other recipes.

I was not feeling entirely confident randomly picking yet another recipe, but I did so, and then used my instincts to make a few adjustments via trial and error to make it my own. So maybe I lucked out, but this recipe represents the best quantities of simple ingredients that seem to work really well. In the end, I used far less flour and less eggs than the recipe I used on my first try. And, I use more flour and more egg than the recipe I loosely referenced the second time around, and it has turned out so well.

By the way, some pasta enthusiasts, or made-from-scratch purists, will emphasize the importance of using a higher protein and gluten flour. You can read up on the differences between semolina, 00, and AP or bread flour. Semolina is coarser than 00 or all purpose or bread flour. To make it easy, you will use a combination of both unbleached flour and semolina with my recipe. I like to use Bob’s Red Mill Semolina flour which can be purchased at some grocery stores or online.

Also worth commenting, I use what is referred to as the well method for creating the dough, and a hand pasta maker versus an electric pasta maker for creating the pasta sheets, fettuccine, and spaghetti. For pappardelle, I simply roll up the pasta sheets one at a time into large loose folds, then hand cut the noodles to about 3/4″ using a sharp knife. I create ravioli using a hand pasta cutter.

I hope you enjoy this overall process as much as I do. Please be patient with yourself. If you end up with a flawed first go around, no worries. Get back out there and keep trying it. Beautiful pasta is in your future. With some practice it will be part of your go-to repertoire in no time. I find creating the dough and kneading it by hand is so satisfying. This allows me to assess precisely how it’s all coming together visually and by touch.

Are you ready? Here we go!

Prep/cook time: total ~2-1/2 hours (15 mins pasta dough; then let it rest ~30 mins; create pasta ~30-45 mins; drying time 30 mins; cooking time: 4-10 mins)

Serving: ~4

Author: Mindi Cunningham | sweet basil & lemon


2 cups unbleached bread flour

1/2 cup semolina flour

4 eggs room temperature

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

*extra semolina flour for dusting pasta sheets and noodles


Preparing the dough:

Ensure your work surface is very clean before emptying ingredients and making the dough. I know it goes without saying, but please, wash hands thoroughly because you will be relying on your hands a lot for this process.

Pour the flour out onto a work surface (a silicon mat or a clean counter works just fine) in the shape of a mound. Take a spoon and carve out the center to create a well.

Next, carefully pour eggs, oil olive and salt into the well.

Using a fork, very gently begin stirring the eggs together, folding a tiny bit of flour into the center little by little until eventually, the flour has been pulled into the egg mixture entirely. Not to worry things may look a bit messy and sticky. This is as it should be at this stage. To help the dough come together, finish massaging the dry and liquid ingredients together by hand, until dough consistently forms. If things feel very sticky, lightly sprinkle a bit of semolina onto the fingertips and palm areas. You should not have to do this more than once or twice. Too much flour is not good, so I don’t recommend sprinkling flour directly onto the dough.

You can rub both hands together to release the sticky dough; as it falls to the work space little crumbles will land. Don’t waste these, simply pick up your dough formation and press into the dough crumbles and work them back into the dough. If dough seems slightly dry, pour a very slight amount of olive oil into your palm and rub your hands together before working into dough. Do not add another egg or pour oil directly into your mixture. The ratios are pretty sensitive, so usually only a very subtle and careful adjustment is required to remedy the dough to get it just right.

Press the bottom part of your palm closest to your thumb, into the dough, folding the dough over from top to middle, kneading with the palm again, then rotating the dough clock wise with each fold, continuing to repeat the process for 10 minutes. Dough should be much stiffer and tougher than a bread dough, and not dry, cracked or crumbly. Your dough should look like this after kneading as you form your dough ball for rest.

Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temp for ~30 minutes.

Now let the real fun begin. Time to create your pasta sheets! Take your dough and cut it into 6 pieces. Make sure you have sprinkled some semolina flour onto your clean work surface and set some in reserve off to the side.

Take one section of the dough and cover the remaining dough with the plastic wrap to prevent dough from drying out. Take the dough and flatten it out by hand into a rectangular shape. Precision is unnecessary, just create a basic shape. Next, run it through your pasta maker on the first setting once. Remove and fold into thirds. If you need to dust the dough with semolina do so to both sides to prevent sticking. Work the pasta into a rectangular shape again, trying to create a bit more form. Run it lengthwise through the first setting a few times. Then take the sheet and run it through each setting twice, stopping when completed with setting 7 (for ravioli and spaghetti), 8 for fettuccine and pappardelle (running through only once, not twice). I usually remove the sheet around setting 4 or 5 and cut the sheet in half so it’s not too long. I dust the sheet with generously with semolina at this stage to prevent any sticking.

Once the pasta sheet has been created, I immediately create my noodles or shapes, this allows the pasta to get a head start on the drying process. Repeat the process to create pasta sheets and noodles so that all the dough has been created into raw pasta noodles.

Whether you use a drying rack, lay them flat or dry in a pasta nest, make sure you sprinkle generously with semolina flour, this will prevent sticking and help with the drying process. Allow noodles to dry about 30 minutes before boiling.

Ensure your boiling water is at a full, rapid boil and add 1 Tbsp of salt to your water before adding pasta. Pasta will cook between 4-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your noodle and type. You’ll want to do a taste test at a few intervals, but generally it cooks faster than boxed noodles. Pasta is done when it’s not stiff and it tastes soft and chewy with some bite to it.

Once noodles are finished cooking, treat them with as much care as you have throughout the process. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove pasta and place into a bowl for serving. If you’re looking for a great sauce to pair with your pasta, my homemade bolognese is absolutely delicious. We are talking about my favorite of all favorites! I will post this recipe as well as my homemade ricotta stuffed ravioli very soon. Stay tuned, and comment with questions, or direct message me on Instagram @sweetbasilandlemon

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