Stretching the dough by hand, using a rolling pin,is the part of the pasta-making process that requires the most skill-and patience. It is not all that difficult to master, however, and once you've gotten the knack, and the rhythm, you will find that it is definitely the most satisfying part.
Remember that it is important to work quickly, because if the dough is allowed to dry out and become stiff, it will no longer stretch.
When beginning to roll out the dough,apply pressure only in the outward direction, not on the return of the pin, and remember to think of this motion as pushing the dough out and away from you, rather than pressing it into the table. If the dough feels sticky at any time during the stretching process, sprinkle it with a small amount of flour to ease movement.
If you are intending to use the dough for stuffed pasta, you can either stuff and cut each sheet as it is done, or cover each rolled out sheet with a slightly damp dish towel and then stuff them all at once.
Unwrap the dough and cut it in half or into thirds or even fourths, depending on how skilled you are at stretching. Re-wrap all but one piece of the dough. Form the dough into a ball and flatten it slightly with your hands to create a disk. Sprinkle the worktable lightly with flour and place the dough in front of you.
Begin gently rolling the dough outward from a point about one-third of the way into the disk. Do not use too much pressure,and give the dough a quarter turn each time you complete an outward motion. Continue this process until you have formed a round piece of dough of equal thickness-about ⅛ inch (3 mm).
Place the rolling pin on the top edge of the dough round. Curl the dough over the pin and roll up about one-fourth of the dough,using a light pressure. Anchor the dough on the table with your other hand. Using a somewhat staccato forward-and-back, rolling-and-pushing motion, quickly unfurl the dough from the pin.
Repeat the curling of the dough edge over the pin, but this time roll up a bit more of the dough than the last time, say one-third. Once again, anchor the dough with your other hand and give it the same forward-and-back unfurling motion. These movements should be quick, but smooth and even.
Continue, adding a bit more of the dough each time, until you have rolled up and unfurled the entire round. Roll all the dough onto the rolling pin and turn the pin around (not over) so that each hand is now grasping the other end, then unroll the dough on the table.
Begin the process again, starting on the opposite end to where you last began. Keep repeating the curling, stretching, and unfurling process until the dough reaches the desired thickness (for stuffed pasta, roll as thinly as possible; for cut pasta, roll to about 1mm).
At the end of this process, you will have a very elongated oval shape of thinly rolled dough the sfoglia which I find easier to achieve, and to work with, than a perfect circle.
If you are going to cut the pasta into shapes, roll up the sheet of dough on your pin and unroll it onto a clean,dry dish towel. Let it dry for 15–25 minutes, depending on the humidity of the room,then cut. If using for stuffed pasta, proceed immediately.
Before cutting, you can trim the dough that results from hand-stretching. I prefer not to, as it causes waste and lowers yield. Also, part of the hand-made process is the irregularity of lengths and shapes. It is generally just fine to use your eye to measure the widths of the various shapes and noodles. Flour the work surface and use a sharp chef 's knife for cutting. Square or rectangular shapes. Cut the dough to the required size: 5 inch (12 cm) squares for fazzoletti, or 5 by 6 inch (12 by 15 cm) rectangles for lasagna or cannelloni.
Fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Place it with the folds at top and bottom, then cut lengthwise into strips: ¼ inch (5 mm) wide for fettuccine and ½ inch (1 cm) wide for pappardelle.
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