So my girlfriend got me a pasta maker for Christmas. My previous attempts at pasta had resulted in tasty, but heavy, tagliatelle. Initially I wasn’t sure what difference a pasta maker would make. It’s ability to roll pasta into thin sheets, whilst labour saving, couldn’t impact on the taste and texture, right? Wrong. Being able to work the dough through the maker at different thicknesses just gave the dough the silkiest of textures. Additionally it massively reduced the amount of flour needed for dusting, thus less flour to turn the water into a starchy soup.
2 Cups of pasta flour
2 Free range eggs
A pinch of salt
+ Some water to mix
Make a well in the middle of the flour and crack in the eggs, slowly mix them incorporating the flower as you go.
Adding a little bit of water to get all the flour, the dough will slowly form.
Kneed this heavily for around 10 mins, the chill in the fridge (wrapped in cling film) for 30 mins.
Dust with flour and work in the pasta machine.
So our first attempt was to make a simplistic tagliatelle, using the rollers to first make lasagne sheets, then the cutters to cut it into tagliatelle. Using my wooden pasta tree, I was able to dry it for long enough to finish making the batch, without it sticking to every surface in sight.
The first problem encountered was then when the lasagne sheets are too sticky they don’t pass through the cutters well. Meaning the tagliatelle strips get tangled and stuck up inside the mechanism. The solution to this was a good bit of dusting, sadly the added flour made the pasta a bit sticky.
The result was a very smooth pasta but still a bit sticky, it took a while to hone my technique, and I am still learning.
Thanks to a bit of reading in Jamie Oliver’s book – Cook with Jamie provided some useful insights into working the dough, through the machine. Basically passing it through the first few settings, then folding in thirds, and starting again. Repeating this process made all the difference, it gave the dough an entirely different texture, and it wasn’t nearly as sticky, thus negating the need for much extra flour.
For our second attempt we wanted to make ravioli, with a standard spinach and ricotta filling.
As is to be expected this was a very messy process, but well worth it. The resulting ravioli were fantastic. A little on the large side, but that’s not a problem. We used the roller setting 2, which meant when you double up the pasta you actually have quite a thick layer. We did later try using setting 1, but the lasagne sheet was so thin to work with a wet filling, it just made holes, and a few exploded whilst being cooked.
What we also discovered was haw easy it is to freeze ravioli. We were able just to lay them on baking trays in the freezer, then bag them up when fully frozen. Success.
Following on from the ravioli success I tried making farfalle. Using a pasta cutter bought from e-bay, to crimp and cut, I set about it.
The pasta was very similar (as you would expect from the same recipe, and technique), but it was interesting to play with the shape. Sadly a few of the bows came undone during the cooking, which is a shame, but they were still very tasty.
The next experiment was to use the lasagne sheets as lasagne sheets. This was amazing! Without a doubt the best lasagne I have made (or possibly tasted). The freshness of the sheets made them so soft. Taking leftovers into work the next day even impressed the avid meat eaters.
I will continue to make pasta, and am looking to new creations, playing with colour and flavour is the next step.