Last month, I was cleaning photos off on my old hard drive and discovered a glaring oversight on my food blogging part: I had never told you about one of my proudest kitchen triumphs to date, mastering the pasta nest!
By “pasta nest” I mean the method of creating a well inside a mound of flour, placing several egg yolks in the center and creating pasta dough with your fingertips alone. Why is this process so intimidating? Don’t countless cooks all over Italy do precisely this every single day without fail? Clearly, they have never read Jeffrey Steingarten, who I alone blame for my fear of The Nest.
“… I ran into a problem,” Steingarten writes in The Man Who Ate Everything.
As I began to incorporate flour from the crater’s inner wall, a wavelet of egg slashed over the top, causing a serious erosion problem, and when I nimble scooped up a handful of flour and from the stable side of the mound and used it to stanch the flow, the crate collapsed. A torrent of egg yolks, now thick with flour and cornmeal, surged across the table, carried a pile of chopped garlic, and like molten lava rolling over a Hawaiin housing development, leaving death and destruction in its wake, headed toward my handwritten notes. As I snatched away the notebook, the flood plunged on, lifting two rosemary branches as though they were matchsticks and cascading over the edge of the table and into an open silverware drawer…
It gets worse from there as he does not wash the silverware immediately, and it takes on “the feel of industrial-grade sandpaper” and you can see why, as another home cook in a tiny New York City kitchen, I couldn’t imagine my pasta nest experience being any less of a disaster.
My single counter is tiny, has not just a drawer with every cooking utensil I own beneath it but two open shelves with assorted stuff that fits nowhere else and a cabinet with serving platters, food processor and KitchenAid parts, measuring spoons and, ironically, my pasta maker and the thought of scrubbing a yolk-flour crust from each of these objects kept me from trying this method for the five years between the time I first read Steingarten’s story and, well, three and half months ago, when I was working on the agnolotti recipe in my dumplings article for NPR.
It was the fantastic amount of detail in Thomas Keller’s recipe from the French Laundry Cookbook that drew me in; sure, it is a lot of instruction but it also explains exactly how to keep it from going horribly awry, little details like creating a large enough well, pulling in only the smallest amount of flour at a time and kneading the dough even longer than one. Even better, it works. Thirty minutes later I had the most shiny, elastic, sunny round of pasta dough that has yet to grace the smitten kitchen and now it is the only way I will make it. And really, if it has been working for Italian cooks for hundreds of years, why not us?
Question: What are you most the most scared to cook?
One year ago: Sour Cream Bran Muffins
Seven-Yolk Pasta Dough
Adapted from French Laundry Cookbook
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon milk
Mound flour on a board or other surface and create a well in the center, pushing the flour to all sides to make a ring with sides about 1-inch wide. Make sure that the well is wide enough to hold all the eggs without spilling.
Pour the egg yolks, egg, oil and milk into the well. Use your fingers to break the eggs up. Still using your fingers, begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well and not allowing them to spill over the sides. This circular motion allows the eggs to gradually pull in flour from the sides of the well; it is important that the flour not be incorporated too rapidly, or dough will be lumpy. Keep moving the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour. Using a pastry scraper, occasionally push the flour toward the eggs; the flour should be moved only enough to maintain the gradual incorporation of the flour, and the eggs should continue to be contained within the well. The mixture will thicken and eventually get too tight to keep turning with your fingers.
When the dough begins thickening and starts lifting itself from the board, begin incorporating the remaining flour with the pastry scraper by lifting the flour up and over the dough that’s beginning to form and cutting it into the dough. When the remaining flour from the sides of the well has been cut into the dough, the dough will still look shaggy. Bring the dough together with the palms of your hands and form it into a ball. It will look flaky but will hold together.
Knead the dough by pressing it, bit by bit, in a forward motion with the heels of your hands rather than folding it over on itself as you would with a bread dough. Re-form the dough into a ball and repeat the process several times. The dough should feel moist but not sticky. Let the dough rest for a few minutes while you clean the work surface.
Dust the clean work surface with a little flour. Knead the dough by pushing against it in a forward motion with the heels of your hands. Form the dough into a ball again and knead it again. Keep kneading in this forward motion until the dough becomes silky smooth. The dough is ready when you can pull your finger through it and the dough wants to snap back into place. The kneading process can take from 10 to 15 minutes.
Even if you think you are finished kneading, knead it for an extra 10 minutes; you cannot overknead this dough. It is important to work the dough long enough to pass the pull test; otherwise, when it rests, it will collapse.
Double-wrap the dough in plastic wrap to ensure that it does not dry out. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before rolling it through a pasta machine. The dough can be made a day ahead, wrapped and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before proceeding.
Once you’ve triumphed over your seven-yolk pasta dough, here are some ideas of what to cook with it:
168 comments on seven-yolk pasta dough
Deb, so glad to see you recommend trying pasta dough. I made my first pasta sometime last year (regular Lidia Bastianich recipe of egg yolks, 1 whole egg, olive oil, and cold water in a food processor, then kneaded by hand). I even rolled it out by hand, the whole time thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Every time, though, it seems like magic that something that was just minutes ago a pile of flour and an assortment of wet ingredients turns out so sturdy and wonderful in the pot.
Hmm, what am I scared to cook? I’ve long wanted to try making sushi, but I’ve never done it because I am convinced it wouldn’t work. I also never cook with fish because I have no idea how.
I’m most scared to bake with yeast-dough–I just don’t get it! I get so paranoid about every detail that I’m sure this is why my attempts fail time after time.
Bread scares me. To death. I do bake bread (often badly), and I’m terrified every time. On the rare occasion that it turns out, it’s as though heaven’s angels are singing down on me. Yes, I’m being dramatic. Beautiful pasta! Bravissimo!
I’m scared of bread, too, but no-knead saved me. Fish also scares me. I fear getting a bad one, overcooking it, undercooking it, stinking up my kitchen …
awesome. man, i really need a pasta maker. that last picture is just wonderful.
Ooooh, homemade pasta? And the baked tomato sauce? I swoon for both. I have been meaning to make them for dinner for quite some time, and somehow it just hasn’t happened. Maybe this was just the push I needed. Thanks a million!
I have a couple things I am most scared to cook with. One would be blind folded with a chain saw and two would be clams/mussels. I am mostly paranoid that I will give us food poisoning or end up with bad ones. Even though I know the rules about them smelling fresh and tightly closed etc. The thing is I enjoy them on occasion, my mom used to cook them all the time but the ones she got always seemed fresher and nicer then ones I see round where I live now so I am too scared to buy em and try em. I have paranoia that maybe they’ve been sitting in the little glass case for a month or something. I shall leave them for my ma to make me when I visit. :)
p.s. great pasta making photos, I never did the well method but I do enjoy making pasta!
I would love to roast duck, but I am too afraid to attempt it at home.
Beautiful pasta! Now I’m all inspired to go make some pasta. Good job conquering your fear. My biggest fear is attempting macarons. I’ve heard so much moaning about their capricious nature, that I am both dreading and longing to make them.
Oh Deb. You slay me :( Please invent some gluten-free pasta dough that looks this good.
I got a pasta maker for Christmas which was also when I got diagnosed with celiac disease, and now I am too afraid to use it!
I am terrified of meringues or anything involving whipping up egg whites. I never know if I’ve beaten it enough or too much. I tend to shy away from recipes that use a lot of egg yolks, because I have no idea how to use up the whites. However, I can handle pretty much anything else. I have skipped doing homework to make bread. : P
The pasta looks lovely.
Deb, your eggs look super yellowy-orange – similar to eggs we had every day for breakfast recently in a small ski lodge in the rockies. They tasted very rich, and the chef called them ‘pasteured eggs’ – are yours normal or pasteured? Just asking because I’m now looking all over for them and can’t find them anywhere…
I’m afriad to try anything that you set on fire – but banana’s foster (Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe) is on the menu for our sort-of Valentine’s Day dinner next Saturday – as is fresh egg pasta! Cross your fingers I still have eyebrows!
Oh, that’s so funny – I’ve made pasta with “the nest” once before, and I did have a little rupture, with egg glopping out the side. The whole thing was a mess, but doing everything by hand did give me the best pasta I’ve ever made.
I’m afraid to cook live lobster. I can’t even kill spiders.
DIVINE!!! I got a pasta machine at christmas and there’s no stopping me now!!! Nothing like homemade pasta!
ap, my two cents as far as the egg yolks…growing up on a farm, our chickens had run of the outdoors (they head in at night on their own) and thus ate bugs and grass all day. The yolks were fantastically orange. If you can get ahold of some eggs from a smaller farm (or even a neighbor that keeps a few chickens) you’ll probably find what you’re looking for!
I love the whole egg/well idea! Despite having raw eggs on the counter, I might actually have to try it!
The homemade pasta looks lovely. Now I’ll just have to pony up for a pasta machine:) The one food I’m afraid of cooking is good ole’ fashion ribs. My other, sort of related, food phobia is buying larger pieces of meat. I do love eating it…as long as someone else is buying!
Never did pasta with the nest…only in my food processor. I love making pasta and have mastered ravioli. Now if only I could master gnocchi. Mine, not so good. I also use the hand crank pasta machine. Looked online for the attachment to the kitchenaid …. sheesh was that pricey!
ap, try your local farmers market for fantastic fresh free range eggs. my favorite eggs in new york city are from knoll crest, at the Union Square Greenmarket. they also sell fresh pasta at their stand if you’re too intimidated by Deb’s recipe.
ap, I get eggs with Omega-3 added that are that super-orange color.
I am terrified of my broiler. I’m pretty sure I know where it is on this oven (a previous oven’s heat source was at the top, this seems more conventional, with the broiler drawer actually serving as the broiler).
But I’m terrified of it, nonetheless. Urgh!
@ Bethany (#2), sushi really isn’t too difficult to make! If you can find the basic ingredients (nori, rice, rice vinegar, whatever fillings you want in it), then it’s really easy. :)
What am I afraid of making? Pies. Last time I tried making a pie, it ended up looking like a turkey. Seriously. It was bad…
Crepes. Whenever I eat out, they’re always so heavenly, I fear mine would definitely turn out rubbery – somewhat similar to the Frisbee that my dog Buck carries around in his mouth.
Anything deep-fried. For both my apartment’s tiny kitchen’s and my waistline’s sakes.
That fragment is an apostrophe disaster. Sorry.
At first I thought, “There isn’t really anything I’m afraid to cook” but then I read Nicole’s comment and realized I’ve been avoiding creme brulee for the past eight months because, yes, I’m afraid of the torch. I hope that realization is enough to make me do it next week. :-)
I am in the midst of conquering my fear of pie crust. My husband challenged me to make a pie a week until I had it licked, but I’m far enough along to realize I now need a pro’s help: that would be my Aunt Esther and as soon as she gets back from her winter in Florida, I am booking her for lessons. That’s how I managed to master yeast/bread making and actually that’s how I learned to roll sushi too.
Another phobia I have is seafood other than fish fillets. Mussels, scallops, lobster, shrimp. . . they all are so mysterious or the recipes are frighteningly complicated. sighhhh
Mmmmmm. I think I am going to make pasta right now. Of course mine will come from a box. Had fun last night! See you soon.
I’m afraid of any dough (pastry, pasta, bread). I did make the no-knead bread, but it came out too floury :( I’m hoping to try pasta soon! You always make it look so easy!
Steingarten’s account of his pasta dough nightmare reminds me of those ridiculous, but hilarious info-mercials that show people trying to do the simplest things in the kitchen and failing miserably, only to be instantly cheered up by the newest and stupidest gadget invention that’s only $19.99! And if you act now, you get another one for free!
Also, I LOVE the picture of the pasta coming out of your pasta machine. It’s a beautiful thing.
Your dough is beautiful! I’m afraid to cook Cook’s Ilustrated’s temperature-sensitive chocolate buttercream. I just can’t get it right. Next on the list is traditional pie crust. Until the CI vodka recipe came out, I was doomed.
My one huge failure in my cooking experience thus far has been gnocchi, which I tried to make about 3 years ago, and it traumatized me enough (they were basically inedible) that I’ve been too scared to try them again.
I really should, because I’ve read about the magic of baking the potatoes, and proper mixing techniques, but I’m trying to live up to the standard of amazing restaurant gnocchi that I’ve had, and I’m not sure if I’m ready to test myself just yet…
That looks beautiful, Deb!
I have an ongoing fear for baking cakes.
I’m scared of pie crust! There, I’ve said it. I make it when I have to, but it intimidates the hell out of me. I’ve never been happy with any pie crust I’ve ever made.
That pasta dough is a thing of beauty! I remember watching my mother making it by hand like that, surrounded by mountains of eggs and flour. I rarely make it fresh. Too much counter clutter! Maybe when I finally get that dream kitchen…
My name’s Helen and I’m scared of making caramel. There. I tried it once, burned it once and scarred myself for life. Never made it since. Maybe it’s time to face those demons. With a sugar thermometer……
I had the same disaster happen when I attempted to make handmade pasta dough. The eggs were nicely settled in the crater and as I was trying to mix in the flour, the eggs started to slide out of the crater and run onto my countertop and drawers and onto my floor. It was such a mess. I’ll definitely try your method, the pasta looks beautiful!
My stepdad makes great homemade pasta using the egg nest method. It’s funny, too, because he really never cooks! The pasta is just his “specialty” that he cooks every few years when he wants to impress the family. I remember the first time I saw him do it when I was a kid…it’s pretty fascinating. And the product is so good. I think it’s funny that his specialty is something most people are afraid to cook. Me, I’m afraid to make most pastry doughs. I enjoy making many things from scratch, but I usually buy my pie dough. I think my fear is from a time I tried to make Danish pastry dough…I followed the recipe exactly, but it melted into a big buttery mess in the oven. Now I guess I feel like the sacrifice of store bought dough is worth not having to endure the disappointment.
That looks gorgeous. I’ve never tried to make bread (although I did make it once by accident – I was trying to bake a cake and it came out bread-like) but this sounds like a fun thing to try. – Lisa
If you haven’t made homemade noodles for chicken noodle soup you should try it. Makes an ordinary soup special and delicious. I was afraid of pie crust until I read Roland Messier’s cookbook. (Pastry chef at the White House). He got tired of trying to come up with the perfect crust and finally just threw all the ingredients into the Kitchen Aid (softened butter), mixed it up and wound up with the best crust. I’ve made his pate sucree many times and it’s always perfect. So much for “work cold, work fast”.
Until recently I was afraid of making my family’s ultra spicy hot and sour soup (which is our equivalent to your Matzo Ball soup even though we are Croation and not Chinese) but moving to Australia with no hope of home-cooked hot and sour eased my fear and my attempts have somehow been up to standard.
So I guess my new fear would be…
anything out of my Michael Recchuti Chocolate cookbook.
Deb, Those egg yolks have an incredible color, where did you get those eggs? I concur, the pasta rolling out of the machine is a fabulous pic. I’ve been making pasta like this with my girls for years. It is always so much fun and deliciously light! What scares me – getting the rice perfect for sushi rolls.
Sue, the ultra yellowy orange egg yolks are the result of free range chickens– when they’re allowed to run around and eat bugs and grass, they lay better, more beautiful eggs.
I have been fantasizing about making homeade pasta for years now, but it always seemed so intimidating. Thanks for confessing your fears, Deb! My biggest cooking fear has got to be centered around candy-making. The explanation of David Lebovitz was fabulous, though, and I am definitely eyeing your cheesecake squares. New reader of your blog and I LOVE it, it has rekindled my creativity in cooking.
I’m afraid to bake pumpernickel bread. Every recipe looks SO complicated, and I know it’s never going to come out like the Raisin Pumpernickel bread you can get in Astoria. Of course I live 200 miles from Astoria, but a girl can dream, right?
My least favorite thing to think about cooking? Chicken. Slimy and gross feeling, it sends shivers up and down my back whenever I have to think about touching the raw stuff. Actually, anything meaty like that– including steak. I can deal with ground beef and sausage, as long as I don’t have to touch it while it is cooking.
Used to hate dealing with raw egg, too. But I’ve overcome that fear.
Oh, and deep frying. Let’s not forget deep frying– messy and hot oil and getting burned would be the pits. I’m definitely going to have to watch someone deep fry before I attempt to try it myself!
Great post! After likewise mastering the flour-egg-volcano-crater hand mixing method, I read a recipe suggesting the use of a food processor to do the initial mix . . . which worked well. I mix the flour and eggs in the food processor for about 30 seconds and then dump the dough ball onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. It’s not quite as messy or time-consuming as the all-by-hand method. But I continue using both methods . . . mainly because I like to have my hands in my food. And it’s good to have the all-by-hand technique down for those times when I’m traveling and my host doesn’t have a food processor.
I am afraid of prime rib…I can bake, cook almost anything, but for some reason I am afraid of ruining this expensive piece of meat. The pasta looks wonderful!!
wow, I always imagined pasta would be much more complicated than this, I must get a pasta macine and try this recipe!
I got a brand new Jamie Oliver cook book a few years ago, and the first recipe I tried was a bread recipe that he used this method for, and lo and behold, I broke the flour wall and gooey egg-y yeasty floury mess spilled all over the book and all over my tiny kitchen. However, I developed a trick: if you set up your flour and eggs and everything on a rimmed sheet pan you still have plenty of room to work with and if the walls do break, the sheet pan should contain everything.
I have been a victim of the pasta crater overflow each time I’ve made my own pasta. But what the hell, maybe throwing in a few more yolks will make it better to handle. I’m afraid of baking complicated breads that you won’t know are successful until the end of many hours of working with the dough.
Thanks for the tips on the eggs – I’ve been buying from our local farmer’s market for years and they NEVER look like that but it’s likely the variation in diet that they might not have. Have to ask about feed next time…
I am way intimidated by proper laminated pastry dough. No way I can roll that many folds without the butter deciding to leave.
I should try the well method again. The lava flow brought back memories…
congrats! i just read the latest issue of real simple and your blog was named one of the best food blogs!
I’m intimidated by croissants. I have had the same recipe written out by hand (two pages, back and front) for at least 10 years and regularly take it out and pin it to the fridge as some kind of dare/threat. Then a month later I’ll clean house and come to my senses and put the recipe away. By my calculations, if I wanted to have croissants for brunch at 11 am, I would have to start the absurd process of buttering, folding, buttering, folding, at 2 am. And only sleep in two hour intervals that night.
Cool… I’ve never tried just yolks (or almost). What a beautiful yellow you get. Love your blog. :)
Pasta dough….or pastry dough, either, or both. Probably for the same reason. They seem so exacting, miss a measurement, or knead too long, or not long enough….and it’s just not going to work.
I suppse that’s why I’m more comfortable with savory dishes, they’re more forgiving….mess up and well, chances are you’ve got time or at least a chance to add a pinch of something to save the dish, or transform it altogether!
One of my biggest fears that I need to overcome! I’d love to try this!
This looks so delicious, but soooo fattening. I am somewhat afraid of pecan pie, I tried to make it once and it was a liquid disaster.
I never thought of just yolks and I have resorted to just the food processor. I am scared of making pastry dough, AGAIN! I have done it twice only to manage a mortar-like crust. I suppose I must get back on and continue to ride despite having been thrown. I may dare to try this method though. Thanks for the info and great shots.
i will def be trying this! i just made the switch from the hand pasta machine to the kitchen aid attachment one (thank you santa!), and it has changed my life. we now can mix, knead, roll and cut in about 30 minutes, which means fresh pasta on the weekdays. :)
What am I hesitant to make? Table-top size, thin-as-tissue-paper struedel pastry.
After a few tries I gave up and purchased Phyllo dough in the freezer…not too bad but NOTHING like the real thing, and about 100 less layers in the finished product.
Your pasta looks lovely….the eggs look like the ones I buy in our neighborhood from folks who keep chickens in their backyard: except the eggs they have a larger and have double-yolks. They make the BEST Challah bread!l
Croissants are my worst nightmare.
Deb, congratulations on your mention in March’s Real Simple magazine for one of their favorite food websites!
I’ve done that exact same yolk spillage as Steingarten. It was pretty traumatizing.
Deb, I was so happy to see a hunk of pasta dough on your site today. I’ve been working with pasta every week at the restaurant I’m trailing at and am coming to love the process. There is something undeniably satisfying about a satiny-smooth pasta dough.
Thanks for sharing. I love keeping up with your kitchen adventures.
~Best, from a fellow puny-NYC-kitchen cook.
Jams and other preserves are pretty scary to me. The cooking portion is not particularly intimidating. But the possibility of giving myself and those I love botulism is enough to make preserved foods my culinary bogeyman.
I would add that although there are Italians who make their own pasta, an awful lot nip over to the local pasta maker when they want fresh-made. Yours looks quite nice, though. What did you cook it with?
Scallops. I am scared of scallops. I failed twice and it was probably due to the heat not being high enough. Help?
My pressure cooker scares the HECK outta me. The combination of really hot stuff under really high pressure…. I love homemade pasta and will def try your fabulous-looking recipe.
Gnocchi. I’m scared of producing leaden lumps of potato and bringing my nonna’s disgrace down upon my head. But I *really* want to learn.
Dancer who eats, I saw your comment just above mine. I just did some braised scallops that were fantastically easy and delicious, you can see ’em on my blog. But I often just pan-sear ’em over medium-high heat and then make a quick pan sauce with whatever’s laying around (Maker’s Mark makes an unconventionaly but totally yummy sauce).
I am totally making this pasta.
– Us vs. Food
have you tried grilled scallops? just remove the top shell, keep the shell it’s connected to, slather margarine or butter, top with toasted minced garlic, put over charcoals and viola! delicious scallops. YUM!
am afraid of making cheesecake. everything i’ve read about it intimidates me. not to mention cream cheese is pricey where i live so… to waste that much money on something i don’t think i can make is scaring my wallet. But since i love cream cheese, i just eat it with toast. :)
I get scared every time a recipe calls for tempering eggs. What if they curdle, or scramble? I usually don’t have back-ups on hand either…it’s terrifying.
I also get a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach when I melt chocolate, because for the longest time it would always sieze on me! Now, I make sure that there is no water in sight what-so-ever.
There is nothing like a beautiful golden-rod pasta. Ruth Reichl has a great recipe for gorgeous yellow pasta noodles in her book ‘Comfort Me With Apples’ from a hidden country restaurant that produces all of its own food. Yours looks like a strong competitor.
The pasta dough looks amazing!
I’m afraid to make banana bread. The idea of using over-ripe (which to me reads “rotten”) bananas creeps me out, and I’m afraid that somehow, despite the baking process doing its thing, that the rotten bananas will make me or someone else sick. Bananas! Someday I must get over this, because the boyfriend is a huuuge fan of banana bread.
Squid, I’m afraid of cooking squid. Which bits do you cut off and where the heck is the beak? I love calamari, order it everytime it is on the menu but haven’t the nerve to tackle it myself. Now I’m a very adventurious cook, everyone’s scaries before me I say posh to, I’ve conquered every one. But not squid.
there is no end in sight to my pasta-making mania. None I tell you! But I always use a bowl. My counters are just too hard to clean to chance an errant ribbon of egg!
Croissants. I make terrific bread! Light and flaky biscuits! And stone-hard doorstops shaped liked croissants.
Deb, where did you get those eggs?? They look luscious enough to drink!
Don’t forget to try the cracked pepper pasta… an easy addition that doesn’t screw up your liquid to flour ratio…
funny how there is so much pastry and seafood on here as worst fears! both are things i have no problem with… but for some reason i’m absolutely terrified of cassoulet. i’ve mastered paella and the glorified socarrat, can turn out absolutely perfect moules mariniere, have never made a pastry that wasn’t snapped up in seconds… but cassoulet. CASSOULET! why is it so scary?
Oh, there are still so many things I’m afraid to cook . . . namely, pasta, bread, and cheesecake. I want to conquer my fears in reverse order, so next up cheesecake!
I remember my grandmother making ‘noodles’ that way, and she made it look so easy that I tried it, and it was not easy (but I was only 17, so maybe I could do it now.) Noodles and Boiling beef–that is an Iowa dinner to remember…yum.
bake bread every other day, yeast doesn’t scare me. Puff pastry is something that I have an (until now) unspoken fear of, all that folding and remembering and chilling…just too many steps. Have never done it. Is it really worth it when it is so time-intensive and you can buy it? Tried real strudel once (“roll and stretch dough until you can read through it, as large as a tablecloth..”) and that was a disaster. I suppose if I thought someone would really appreciate it, reminisce with tears in their eyes, it would be worth trying again. Don’t know any of those people.
to laura k.
you can make creme brulee without a torch. you need to put the ramkins in a larger baking dish filled with water and ice (this keeps the bottom part of your creme brulee cold). then you put it under the broiler at a high heat until the top is crisp and carmelly. i did this while living in scotland unable to afford the torches there. it turned out well. i’ve never actually used the torch, but i’m imagining this way is a bit harder, but doesn’t take any specialty tools, which is something my small kitchen needs!
Thanks for making pasta seem so much easier to make!
I’m interested to see if anyone has any tips on making pasta without the pasta-machine… just rolling it out. This recipe looks too good to pass up, but I don’t have the machine!
Hi Robin–Short of driving yourself mad and rolling it out super-super thin with a rolling pin (well, I find it maddening but I know others have done so successfully) I made orecchiette last year before I had my pasta maker. Just make sure you cut the coins off as thin as possible, or they’ll take forever to boil!
Thought you’d like to know that you got a mention in Real Simple’s March issue (p. 128 — “An enthusiastic kitchen amateur chronicles her adventures, offering a mix of easy recipes, smart and witty commentary, and beautiful photos”).
Pretty snazzy! I felt so in-the-know. = )
I imagine NYC landlords would be quite against the act, but the most frightening cooking moment must be dropping a turkey into a deep fryer. sheer anxiety of wondering if the bird was dry enough and the oil just so in order to not have my eyebrows (or face) burned off, makes me quake in my seat. the fearless (crazy) folks that risk life and limb for the (in their opinion) juiciest bird possible, have a bit of my respect.
Thomas Keller calmed the fear in me as well with his simple roasted chicken recipe. Completely juicy results with no outdoor deep frying fear.
Thanks Deb, I think it’s a good idea to start with the orrechiette. If I make them well enough to please the fam, I’m sure I’ll get one for my birthday!
Helen – I’m afraid of making caramel also! I made it once, after nosh with me and i believe smitten posted caramel recipes. nosh with me notes, “i used a pizza cutter instead of a knife”. i thought this was a great idea, and pizza-cuttered my caramels AND myself into the emergency room to get 5 stitches in my hand. and the caramels were too hard. i’m dying to try again after smitten posted dulche de leche – maybe i’ll just try that again haha.
Allison at sushiday.com, it’s funny you say sushi is easy but you’re scared of pie, because I was thinking, “Oh, but pie is dead easy!” :-) I guess there are all different kinds of cooks, and isn’t that what makes life fun?
Your description on making the pasta was wonderful.
Made this pasta recipe yesterday for Mushroom Marscapone Ravioli…it was awesome! Thanks for the inspiration…my DH thanks you too.
my fair lady, would you have a recipe for eggless pasta?
Or does it simply not occur outside the laboratory conditions?
Pardon the neophyte ;)
Nice to read to your article,
Pasta has existed since the days of the Roman Empire and remains one of the most versatile cooking ingredients, as no storage room or cupboard should be without it. It can be combined with meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, or even a simple herb sauce to create a mouthwatering and nutritious meal within minutes.
Deb, I’m in love with you…you’re witty, talented, and “real-deal” woman! I happened upon your blog about two weeks ago, and I have to check it everyday now and I also spend time in the archives looking up jewels that I missed before I had the pleasure of knowing you!
Thank you for the incredible pictures, art no less. The photographs combined with your winning wit, are a knock-out combo. The recipes that I’ve tried so far, are winners. I made the Irish soda bread two days ago and it was the talk of my co-workers. I didn’t have raisins or currants at the time, so I used tiny dried blueberries and I used caraway seeds as called for…the result was sheer mouth-pleasure! As people gobbled up their slice, they would say “What is that really different good taste? I need another slice to figure it out.” It was the caraway seeds, I think. I’m a fearless bread maker. I learned to make bread with James Beard’s “Beard on Bread”, the first edition…I was about 16 years old. I think I was too young to fear things like yeast, etc. Bread is actually very forgiving I’ve found. I’ve often stuck rising dough back in the fridge because I didn’t have the time to bake it then. Later, I’d warm it up to room temp and proceed with the rising procedure and I’d end up with a divine loaf! Don’t sweat the yeast…it’s your friend!
Once again, thank you for the pleasure of reading what you write and photograph. It’s a gift to all!
I tried my hand at this recipe earlier this evening, and the results were marvellous. Now I can’t wait to make more fresh pasta.
Your website is my new favorite! In a (somewhat bizarre) fit of bravado, I tried two of my biggest cooking fears in one day–yeasty things, and pasta dough.
I used your pretzel recipe, and gave them to my Dad for his birthday–he was thrilled, and yeast was not scary…. Then I made the pasta dough by hand with this recipe. I almost had an overflow disaster, but could block it with my scraper (another good reason to have one on hand). Thanks and….yum!
i did it i did it i did it
first time ever
i bought the kitchen aid rollers on ebay
I am terrified of – PASTA!!!! It’s not that I’m really scared, it’s just that I can’t get it to turn out for anything in the world. I’ll cook anything and usually have good results. If I screw up, I learn from it and do better next time. And I can make great gnocchi (bake the potatoes, DON’T boil them) so pasta should be easy, right? Yet, every time I make it I get a rubbery mess. Fresh pasta should cook in a minute or two, compared to dried, which takes 8-12 minutes, depending on the type. My fresh, homemade pasta could cook for 30 minutes and STILL be rubber. I’ve tried a ton of recipes and varied my ingredients with no success but now I’m going to try yours, after seeing Lidia Bastianich doing a Piedmontese pasta using only egg yolks. It looked wonderful, as does yours. Wish me luck and I’ll take any pointers that anybody cares to offer.
Dancer who eats February 11, 2008 66
When you buy scallops – ask for dry pack scallops ONLY. Lightly brush a heavy sate pan with canola oil and heat until not quite smoking – season your scallops and drop in pan – DON’T MOVE THEM for 90 seconds – then turn for ans 30 -60 seconds depending on size. remove and enjoy – the secret is the DRY PACK – they won’t leach liquid when frying- hope this helps
This one is close to the Di Medici version in her cookbook, with the exception that she has 2 cups of flour and 4 whole eggs. Yours looks yellower and richer. I think I’ll vote for you.
And yes – as Julia and Diana commented to have a yellow pasta you need free range eggs. There is no chance to get that color with regular eggs! Not even in my wildest dreams.
Gabi @ mamaliga.
i was so excited about getting a recipe for pasta that i didn’t actually read through the instructions – just the ingredient list. D:< if i could send a pox upon myself i would. here’s to hoping this time i’ll get it right~
This was a great recipe, one I will make again once I acquire myself a pasta press.
Just hand rolled it the first time I tried it, but It was good anyway :) The no-press way is perfect for those who like making thicker pastas, I made little disc shapes with mine and they turned out fabulously. Thank you!
Can I replace the all purpose flour by whole wheat flour??
I need to learn how to make pasta, pasta maker or no.
Actually, I’m kind of afraid of things that require machines to make. The only kitchen machinery I have (stove and cook top and fridge aside) is a blender and a coffee maker, and they barely get used. When I need almond meal, I grind it in a mortar. Pesto? Mortar. Crushing a ridiculously large box of graham crackers? Stick ’em in a plastic bag and pound for hours. Not because I have some anti-technology conviction, but because I’m afraid of them and I always end up either cutting myself on something, breaking something, or getting it moldy.
I’m afraid of making bread, though I’m ok with yeast dough in general. Puff pastry and phyllo seem daunting, and since they aren’t sold where I live, I never make anything with them. Cakes seem scary, even after making three of them (none of them were received with much excitement, either). Mousse, because of the raw eggs… so many things.
I made the homemade pasta (and agree with Deb that “the well” is not really that difficult). I used a tarte tin – pressed into the dough upside down- to make fancy scalloped edges and pinched them in the middle to create the poor man’s farafelle. I hand rolled, so they are thick… but oh-so-good with a simple lemon, olive oil, fresh basil and diced plum tomato treatment.
Bring on spring!
The thought of pasta did scare me…….until I tried it. You can’t really go wrong, just knead and knead and knead then knead some more. I find it quite theraputic and de-stressing.
I made this pasta tonight and it was fantastic! thanks for the recipe.
I had a great time reading through eveyone else’s culinary fears, and was slightly surprised to see pastry dough (one of my favourite things to make) among the most-feared list, along with pasta and gnocchi, also among my favourite things to make. These things aren’t that difficult to make – they’re just a bit technique intensive, and boy, do I ever like learning techinquies! Before I made my first pie, I read a bunch of pie how-tos, watched a video on making pie, and gathered a list of helpful hints about making pie and where it can go wrong. That first pie turned out wonderfully thanks to the internet’s help.
But then I realized that during the several years I’ve been cooking and baking, I have never made a loaf of bread! I’ve even purchased a sourdough culture which I haven’t activated yet in order to make sourdough. I’ve also been wanting to make macarons for a long time yet never had the proper equipment nor watched quite enough videos on “macronage” techinque.
i want to try your pasta dough for my next lasagna sheets. but i dont have a pasta maker. Can this dough be rolled like lasagna sheets BY HAND? is it too sticky for hand-rolling?
(for your mushroom lasagna that i baked last friday, i made lasagna sheets from http://dishlicious.net/2009/02/home-made-lasagne/ but your dough looks exotic!), Dont hate me for putting it too many questions! I love you!
I don’t think it is any stickier than a regular recipe. It’s a really lovely pasta dough.
I am trying this soon and will get back to you on how it came out. Thanks a ton!
Right, I am not sure if I should be admitting this, but last year I had a ravioli disaster… I was a teensy bit behind schedule for a party where I had promised I would bring ravioli— yes, because it only took me a few hours last time— and as I stirred in the yolks… full pandemonium a la the unfortunate Mr. Steingarten struck. I redid everything in a bowl, and while it turned out okay-ish, it was a bit doughy. I have always thought it was the I-am-rushing-to-roll-this-out-with-a-plastic-rolling-pin-that-is-really-light factor, but after reading about your quest to get the counter method right, I have become paranoid.
(If in a hurry, skip long anecdote above and if you would, answer question below)
Is there a big problem with doing this in a large bowl? I just would feel so much less worried.
Nope, and in hindsight, that makes a tremendous amount of sense. A wide, flatter bowl like a pasta dough would allow you to incorporate it slowly, as you should.
Wow, it took 2 years for someone to recommend using a bowl? I was a little baffled when reading the post until I realized that for some reason people thought it was a good idea to *not* use a bowl! :)
My personal bugaboo is anything involving boiling sugar. My jams and jellies do not jell. My caramels do not set. My one and only attempt at a boiled frosting ended in screaming and tears and a stove that smelled of marshmallows when that burner was on for literally weeks (um, and also the frosting, such as it was, ended in more tears when it SLID OFF THE CAKE, to add insult to injury). So now I take the Nancy Reagan approach and Just Say No to boiling sugar. Buttercream frosting is perfectly nice.
What is the advantage to using only the yolks? Would it still come out if you used whole eggs (I hate to have 6 egg whites sitting around waiting for me to come up with something to do with them)?
I’m a bit leery of meringues as well, I’m never sure I’ve underbeaten or overbeaten.
This is my new favorite pasta dough recipe! Thank you!
Deb, thanks for the recipe, please help fresh or dried pasta? I am making squid ink pasta for the first time and I want to know which is better?
Have the first batch resting in the refrigerator till my new pasta machine comes tomorrow. I was wondering if this dough would be amenable to a couple of add-ins, like parmesan cheese and cracked pepper?
LOVED it! I made it with the kids… fettuccine on level 7. Picked it apart, let it dry a bit in a pile, then boiled it up for 2 mins with basil, garlic, and butter. SOOO good! It took a bit of muscle to knead though. I’ll make it again and again!
After being a little frightened by the requirement of fourteen eggs in Keller’s pasta dough recipe in his Ad Hoc cookbook, I came across your recipe (which I was excited to find, as I regularly follow your blog) and was satisfied to find it was pretty much the same recipe, except I would only have to sacrifice 7 eggs. And a sacrifice it was, unfortunately, I should have paid a bit more attention to your accompanying photographs as my pasta-making exercise has been closer to Steingarten’s experience, complete with egg yolks flowing out over the top of my countertop. I have attempted to salvage the dough, but as this required me rescuing yolk by incorporating it quickly into the flour – I have produced quite the lumpy sight of dough. Still, this is what first tries are for, right? We’ll see in a few hours if it still tastes good!
This is the best recipe I’ve tried; produces thin, elastic noodles that melt in your mouth. Especially good with a kitchenaide mixer. Try using smoky paprika in the flour as well
I’ve just started making egg yolk pasta and its a lot harder than I thought! I wish I came to find your page before I started…
I remember reading before that you can just use 2 yolks for every 1 full egg, so I ended up cracking 5 yolks and still couldn’t form the dough. Then I added 1 egg white and kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes then finally I managed to get the dough together.
Its a very firm dough, I probably needed to work it longer, but I will see how it goes. Its resting in the fridge now, hoping I’ll be able to pass it through my pasta machine. I’m really looking forward to the results. If mine fails, I’ll be following your recipe next time and hopefully it’ll be better then!
Btw, my first nest experience was also not too successful. Luckily I didn’t end up with egg all through my utensils, but the benchtop was certainly well coated in egg!!
I linked your recipe to my blog on making fresh pasta- it looks great and I think everyone will enjoy it!
I would love to see a video how the eggs and flour are incoorporated, and also on the kneading process. I want to try this badly…but have nothing to discern whether im doing it correctly or how to fix it if I dont?
After trying half a dozen different pasta recipes, this is, hands down my favorite. The dough is smooth, elastic, melts in your mouth. I’ve substituted no-fat greek yogurt in place of milk, which works well, and also smoked gouda cheese which is just an awesome addition. In a kitchenaide, I use about 1 cup of 00 flour and 3/4 cup of semolina. .. mix about 20 minutes. . .fabulous!
Finally! A recipe that worked perfectly for me. Thank you :)
Did anyone else have their dough turn green after spending overnight in the fridge? I googled and i seems this is a common occurance due to sulpher in the eggs, but is it thus not safe to eat? Love your blog Deb and have pre-ordered the book.
Again, LOVE it! The kids do most of the work… better than playdough ;-)
hi. this may be a silly question – but there’s a difference between this recipe of yours and the http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/01/baklasagne/ one. i was just wondering what the difference is in terms of the final product?
just wondering which one i should use
thank you :)
Yes, this one uses a very high amount of yolks (and only yolks) for a very rich, yellow pasta dough that’s very traditional. The other uses whole eggs and is more efficient.
I think resting is imperative. When I didn’t rest it enough, the first pass through the kitchen aid pasta attachment (thickest setting) made the dough crack and split like a net. After resting the same batch, the result was much better.
I think the olive oil makes the pasta dough turn green with time. I had another batch that had no oil and it stayed golden in colour.
Have fun pasta making
Great resource of recipes for extra yolks!!!
After topping a blueberry pie with an enormous meringue we had 6 yolks plus an egg with a big crack that required immediate use. The 7 yolk pasta was perfect for us. My 10 year old son had the joy of mixing it by hand according to your directions and exclaimed, “this relieves my stress!” The kids are all clamouring for chicken noodle soup (which seems odd in the summer) so they will get a creative variety with homemade pasta shapes and fresh garden veggies.
thank you so much! this came out wonderful! we were thrilled to have made homemade pasta for the first time with such success! rolled it out by hand, by the way. =)
Your recipe has become a Christmas Eve tradition for me. We make traditional English Christmas Cake (fruit cake, but not like anything you have ever had State side). We encase the cake in layers of royal icing – taking a lot of egg whites. At the end, I have a jar of yolks just dying to become something amazing. This pasta is what I’ve finally decided that it needs to become, so every year on Christmas Eve, when the cake is finally done, I make a batch of this fabulous dough.
There is something so very sensuous about making food with your bare hands, and working it from a pile of goo into a perfect feast.
I just got a pasta maker for christmas, and was so relieved to find via search that you had already written about pasta dough! Look forward to trying this. Thanks as always!
Put everything in my mixer with the hook attachment and kneaded for about 20 minutes, it was the best pasta I’ve ever had! Thank you for this delicious recipe!
I am very afraid of making the japanese cheesecake- mainly because I’ve tried twice to make it’s cotton-soft fluffy goodness and failed!
I made this last night and it was amazing! The first time I had ever made homemade pasta. For those of you with less time or less inclination to hand knead (moi!), this works perfectly in the Kitchenaid (or your stand mixer of choice) with the dough hook attachment. I added the flour and salt to the bowl and then added the egg yolks/oil/milk (mixed all together) from a bowl very slowly. I needed just one teaspoon extra of milk and that’s probably because when I was drizzling in the yolk/milk/oil mixture some spilled on to the counter. Then set it to knead for 20 minutes while I prepped dinner.
Really want to try this, just ventured into bread dough and become a bit more confident kneading wise.
Could anyone enlighten me as to what the pull test is? I’ve googled a bit and a lot of recipes mention it but there doesn’t seem to be an explanation. I figure, after giving bread a go, I need to tackle some of my other food ‘Everests’.
Can you make this pasta dough in a food processor?
I made this pasta dough for ravioli – I kneaded it by hand for 20 minutes and also rolled it out by hand. It ended up being slightly hard and chewy once cooked. I am wondering why it came out chewy? Should I have cooked it longer perhaps?
We made this again and LOVED it! I made it with the kids… fettuccine on level 7. Picked it apart, then boiled it up for 3 mins with garlic and butter and one precious leaf of basil for each of us. SOOO good! It took a bit of muscle to knead though and I was out of time, so I did not knead it long enough, but we didnt notice a difference. I’ll make it again and again!
This looks lovely and I have loads of egg yolks. However, I could not get it to the proper consistency. Too heavy.
Can the noodles be frozen for later use? I’m going to have a ton of extra egg yolks soon, and hate to think of throwing them out. This seems like a great use for them!
I hVe the same question as Christine, can the pasta be fronzen and what is the best way to do that. Do you frezen the dough? Do you freeze the prepared pasta? Or do you have to cook the pasta first?
Was blessed with a dozen fresh Aracana eggs from a neighbor, and made this in a little Italian hand cranked pasta machine I bought at another neighbor’s tag sale for $7. I followed Deb’s hand mixing method-was so delighted when my dough looked like the one in the picture-and the resulting fettucine was absolutely ethereal-we put truffle oil and mushroom pesto and lots of fresh parmesan on it-but the lightness of the noodles really made the dish a star. I will make this pasta again and again and again. It is totally worth it to mix it by hand.
I tried Thomas Keller’s pasta dough recipe twice back to back with utterly disastrous results. The pasta never came together as a ball both times. I guess it was too dry or something. Very frustrating. I don’t know what I did wrong. Probably will not try it again. 14 organic eggs down the drain.
Hi Cameron — How do you measure your flour? Maybe your yolks were a little smaller? The difficulty nailing texture on recipes like this is that if yolks were a tiny bit smaller or one packed their cups of flour more heavily, you’d have a too-dry dough. That said, this is a firm dough! It took a lot of kneading to come together, but it did. An extra drop of two of milk or another half-yolk might have done the trick, or I certainly would prefer that to throwing the whole thing away.
Hello Deb, my friend and I tried making this dough the other day, and we used Italian 00 flour (measured out 8 grams), really quality organic eggs with vibrant yolks, and good olive oil, and the texture of the dough was perfect and it was a deep yellow color, but for some reason the flavor was so so bland! My friend had made this recipe before and could attest to how luscious the flavor usually was, but we couldn’t figure out why it tasted so bland this time around. We did let it rest 24 hours in the fridge, but aside from that, any idea why it tasted that way? should we just be less fancypants and use normal all purpose flour and non-free range eggs? I would appreciate any ideas you might have.
Thanks! (Also we both adore your blog/cookbook)
Suki — Salt? Did it need salt, maybe? This recipe didn’t call for it, most don’t but the noodles won’t taste like more until they’ve been boiled in salted water. Or did that not help either?
I love this recipe and it always comes out well. Sometimes I want a “quick version” though – can this be made with a Kitchenaid?
I’d expect it could be — maybe the dough hook?
Is it possible to cut the pasta by hand if you don’t have a pasta machine?
Yes, but you want to get it very very thin!
Macarons. What if they crack? what if they have no feet?!?!
My mom, French and English and grew up poor, would make pasta. She called it homemade macaroni. Her recipe was similar except she would make a well of flour in a large bowl, add the eggs and mix with a large wooden spoon. Once the flour and eggs were incorporated she would knead it on a lightly floured surface. she then would break off a manageable piece and proceed to roll it out as if for pie crust. She would end up with several rounds drying on pastry cloths all over the kitchen. She then would take the driest round and lightly four then loosely roll it up into a slender tube and then slice the tube into thin coils, the appearance was like pinwheel cookies. Uncoil each and hang the noodles again to dry. Once all the rounds were done this way and noodles dried she would bring to a rapid boil some salted water. She would make a rather poor man’s tomato sauce with fried salt pork, onions and add stewed tomatoes. Extremely simple but so very good and filling. She did try a pasta machine, she hated it and went back to her “by hand slicing of the noodles” as she would say!
I’ve only started making pasta recently and this recipe is fantastic. Possibly helpful tip: If making in the dry, cold winter, have a pot of water boiling on the stove to give your kitchen air some much needed moisture. Otherwise the dough can dry too quickly, and crack and become a big mess. Lesson learned.
Can I use durum flour in this recipe, maybe 50/50 with all purpose? The last time i made this recipe, I wrapped half and placed it in the refrigerator to roll our the next day. It took on a greenish hue. Is there any way to prevent what I think is, oxidation, The noodles still turned out ok. Thank you for your recipe. Very hard to know what to do with yolks after an angel food cake!! Claudia
I make this recipe using my stand mixer.
I have a lift bowl model so I make the flour well in the bowl and pour the wet ingredients in. I turn the mixer, with dough hook, to a fairly high speed and slowly raise the bowl while the hook starts bringing the flour into the egg mixture. Once is starts to get a little thicker I turn the mixer down to stir and let it do it’s work, sometimes I have to bring some dough clumps together by hand. Once it has formed a cohesive mass I let the mixer knead the dough, on stir setting, for about 10 minutes.
I’ve made this so many times since lockdown started and it’s such a huge hit. Do you think doubling the recipe would be fine or should I make 2 separate batches?
Doubling it is not a problem, just make sure you have space for a bigger puddle.
I came here to ask the same question, thanks. I’ve made this recipe twice so far and it has be fantastic both times. So Saturday, I’ll try doubling it up. :-)
This weekend I discovered that this pasta recipe is the perfect complement to the Marzipan Petit Fours cake from the Smitten Kitchen Every Day cookbook. That cake requires six egg whites, and this cake requires six egg yolks (plus an additional egg). If you feel like a gluttonous, Italian-inspired, resourceful evening, I suggest making both together!
You are brilliant! Thank you for posting this!
Thomas killers pasta recipe is the best out there and the only one I use….I’ve made this recipe a hundred times and it never fails to impress me….make sure you salt your water so it tastes like sea water!
I will probably be using einkorn flour for this. Will I need to adjust any quantities?
Does this recipe work with OO flour