Pasta is the staple of millions of dishes all around the world. Pasta can be used in an endless number of ways and incorporated in an endless number of recipes—from the main dish of a dinner entrée to a side salad for lunch, pasta is popular, delicious, and fun. Pasta can be pre-bought, but the best pasta is homemade and fresh! You may not have thought of making your own pasta before, but with the advent of pasta making machines you can purchase for your home, why not give it a try? You may find that your own pasta tastes ten times as good as what you purchase at the grocery store, and you can even save money by learning how to make your own pasta right at home!
The first key to making your own fresh pasta is knowing what ingredients you’ll need to use. There are countless recipes to be found online and in books, but pasta always needs the following: flour. Which kind of flour? Unbleached White Flour or Semonila Flour are the two main flours used for pasta making.
Unbleached white flour produces a dough that is firm and easy to work with, because unbleached white flour has not been through the processing of bleach flour. Semonila flour is the traditional flour for Italian pasta, and has a much coarser grain texture. Semonila flour makes a very elastic dough, making it ideal if you want to form your dough into a variety of different shapes. Which dough you use can depend on what kind of shapes you are hoping to make with your dough, and how experienced you are at working with dough. Dough made from semonila flour can be very tough for beginners, so you may want to work with the softer dough that unbleached white flour creates. If you are using an electric pasta machine or a pasta hand crank, you may wish to mix the flours (1 part semonila for 4 parts unbleached white) to create a dough that harder than white flour dough, but not quite as tough to work with as semonila.
After deciding on your ingredients, you’ll need to decide on how you will make your pasta. Pasta can be made entirely by hand with only a rolling pin and kitchen knives, however a majority of people use some form of a pasta making machine to make the process easier and more technical.
There are two main types of pasta making machines used: Traditional manual pasta machines and electric pasta machines.
The most well known pasta making machine is the manual hand crank roller/cutter machine. These machines are used to roll out the dough and then to cut the dough into pieces of pasta. The machine consists of a “smoother,” which smoothes the dough and at least one “cutter,” which cuts the dough. Depending on the complexity and quality of the machine, it may have several different cutter settings for a variety of pasta thicknesses and shapes. Some machines allow for “cutters” to be purchased separately, so that the user may add attachments for their favorite styles of pasta.
A manual machine is used by turning a hand crank, which will press the dough through the roller and smooth it out. Then, the dough is placed on the cutter layer of the manual machine, the crank is turned again, and the pasta is cut. It is important to use a sturdy and strong rhythm when using a manual pasta machine, so that the pasta is uniform and the dough does not catch on the cutter.
Because the manual pasta maker can vary from a basic, no frills machine to something with a variety of attachments and settings, the price varies from quite cheap to expensive. The higher in quality and the more features a manual pasta maker has, the more it will cost. Lower quality machines are either made from poorer material, or are merely used for rolling and cutting one type of pasta noodle.
Electric pasta making machines squeeze pasta dough out, forming the pasta pieces by separating them automatically, instead of through manual hand crank cutting. In a way, electric pasta machines are like meat grinders. Electric pasta making machines are fairly simple to use – most of them even include a dough mixer attachment, to help you mix your pasta dough. You then add the dough to the machine, change the settings according to your desired end result, and turn on the machine.
One of the benefits of electric pasta machines is that it is much easier to make “tube” pasta such as macaroni, and that the settings are much easier to change. You merely have to change the die of the electric machine, instead of changing out the entire cutter, like you would on a manual pasta machine. However, many find that electric pasta machines create floppier pasta noodles because the dough is not smooth and even as it is with a manual pasta machine.
The following are just a few of the more popular pasta making machines found on Amazon.co.uk:
This item retails for £19.99. This manual, hand crank pasta machine is used solely for making tagliatelle pasta. It features an adjustable roller for rolling out sheet pasta, a tagliatelle pasta cutter, and a recipe for pasta dough.
This item retails for £24.99. The Kitchen Craft double cutter pasta machine is made from 18/10 stainless steel, and is simple to use. It features a duo cutter for making different types of pasta. Kitchen Craft also manufactures several attachments for their pasta machine, including ravioli and other pasta type cutters, for easy variety.
This item retails for £40.00. The ProCook pasta maker is made from stainless steel, and is very simple to use. It comes with several cutter attachments, for making the following types of pasta: spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle and pappardelle. ProCook products also come with a one year guarantee.