Pasta Dough for Ravioli

Adapted from Thomas Keller’s “The French Laundry”
One times the recipe makes about 15 – 2 ½ inch Ravioli

1 ¾ cups (8 oz) all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon milk

Mound the flour on a board or other hard surface such as a granite or marble counter-top.  Create a well in the center, pushing the flour to all sides, making a ring with sides about 1 inch wide. Make sure that the well is wide enough to hold all the eggs, milk and olive oil without spilling over the sides.

Pour the egg yolks, egg, salt, oil and milk into the well. Use your fingers to break up the eggs.  Still using your fingers begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well. 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 your dough will be lumpy. Keep moving the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour.  Using a pastry scraper, occasionally push the flour towards 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 to 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.  Note:  if the time of year is very dry all of the flour may not be incorporated.

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 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 with the pastry scraper.

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 anywhere 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.

Roll pasta and make ravioli:
Cut pasta dough into 4 pieces, then flatten each piece into a rough rectangle and cover rectangles with an inverted large bowl. Set rollers of pasta machine on widest setting.

Lightly dust 1 rectangle with flour and feed through rollers. (Keep remaining rectangles under bowl.)

Fold rectangle in half and feed it, folded end first, through rollers 7 or 8 more times, folding it in half each time and feeding folded end through. Dust with flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Turn dial to next (narrower) setting and feed dough through rollers without folding. Continue to feed dough through rollers once at each setting, without folding, until you reach one dial prior to the narrowest setting. Dough will be a smooth sheet (about 24 inches long and 4 inches wide).

Put sheet of dough on a floured work surface and drop  5 to 6 (1 ½ teaspoon) mounds of filling 1 ½ inches apart in a row down center of one half of sheet. Brush egg wash around each mound, and then fold other half of sheet over filling. Press down firmly around each mound, forcing out air. (Air pockets increase the chance that ravioli will break during cooking.)  Cut pasta (between mounds) with a cookie cutter into 2 ½ -inch rounds or cut squares using a pasta cutter or sharp knife.

Dust a large shallow baking pan with flour or cornmeal, arranging ravioli in 1 layer in it. Make more ravioli with remaining pasta dough, 1 sheet at a time, and remaining filling, transferring ravioli to flour dusted pan.

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