Photo heavy post ahead! 😀
Today, we got to use our pasta machine for the first time, while making pasta for the first time. 🙂
Granted, I have made pasta-like noodles before, before, but nothing quite like this.
Of course, I did some research first. I wanted something really basic for a recipe. This turned out to be just flour and eggs. Most places I found went with a ratio of 2 eggs per 1 cup of flour. I did find one that used a ratio of 2 eggs per 3/4 cup of flour. As for quantities, it was recommended 1 egg per person.
Based on that, we could have gone with 4 eggs and 2 cups of flour, but I went ahead and did 6 eggs with 3 cups of flour.
I worked the dough in a bowl until the dough was well formed, then turned it onto our kneading mat.
This turned out to be waaaayyy too dry! I would expect relative humidity would affect the dough, like it does with bread, and we are very dry right now. I simply could not knead in the rest of the flour.
The flour had bits of dough in it, though, and I wasn’t about to let that go to waste.
If you are a pasta aficionado, you may want to look away right now… 😉
I remembered that one resource I found that used the 2 eggs: 3/4 cup flour ratio. It had a recipe calling for 7 eggs to 3 cups of flour.
I decided to add an egg.
Of course, I couldn’t just knead in an egg, so I beat it in a bowl first, then beat in the flour that I couldn’t work into the dough. I even broke off some pieces of the dough and mixed that in, to get it thicker.
I then opened up the dough so I could add the additional egg mixture into the middle, then fold the dough over it.
Kneading that in was pretty messy, anyhow!
Once it was thoroughly worked in, I only needed to add perhaps a tablespoon of flour onto the mat to clean up the stickiness, then I kneaded it for 10 minutes.
I’m sure I broke all sorts of rules or committed some terrible faux pas in doing this, but hey – it worked! The dough was wonderfully smooth and elastic, and just barely sticky.
At this point, I covered it with some plastic wrap and let it sit for 20 minutes.
While I was looking things up, there were a few points I kept seeing repeated. One was that the pasta cooked extremely quickly, so before I even started it, I made a use-watcha-got meat sauce. The other thing I kept seeing was to use extra salt in the water the pasta would be boiled in. Since they cook so quickly, they don’t have the chance to absorb salt from the water, if the usual amount was used.
So while the pasta was resting, I made a few final touches on the meat sauce, then prepped a pot of salted water. No one mentioned how much more salt to add, so I winged it. 😀
The next thing to do was set up the pasta machine.
This is the machine we got (this is not an affiliate link).
What’s hilarious is that the first image has the pasta photoshopped onto the machine completely wrong. It shows cut pasta coming out of the flat rollers. 😀
The machine comes with a clamp to attach it to a table, but our table has a different design. It can expand to twice its size. The two halves of the table top slide one over the other when it’s closed, with a support piece running under them at each end. The whole thing is about 6 inches wide – way too much for the clamp to fit around.
It worked out though.
I was able to partially slide out the extension, and still have a stable surface to clamp on to.
When it was time to start rolling the dough, I started with only half of it. The first time I rolled it through the machine, though…
It just tore apart!
I spent some time going through the instruction manual to figure out why. I ended up using a rolling pin to thin it out more, first, and dusted more flour on each side. That seemed to do the trick.
Another thing I kept reading was to make sure to roll the dough thin enough to see through. I kept reading that the pasta will thicken as it cooks, so it’s better to roll it thinner.
In reading the instructions, it said to set the machine at 1, for the widest setting, rolling the dough through, folding it in half, rolling it again, about 5 or 6 times, then working it thinner and thinner until about 3.
There was one problem with that.
The numbers on the machine are backwards from the numbers in the instructions! The widest setting is 7, not 1. 😀 Which doesn’t really matter, as long as it works, but I did find that funny.
It took a while to get the hang of it. One problem I encountered was that the crank handle kept falling off! The pasta also tended to go off to one side. After a while, a daughter was able to come give me a hand, too, which made things much easier to handle.
The pasta sheets kept getting longer and longer, and I ended up having to cut them in half. Then do it again! In this photo, we have the 4 sheets draped on the pasta drier, ready for us to put the cutter attachment on and start cutting them.
I have to add that I’m really glad I waited until we found Durum flour for this. We could really feel the difference in how well the pasta held out to all the stretching and handling.
The first ones we cut were still hilariously long, so we cut the remaining sheets in half again.
Their widths might have been consistent, but their lengths certainly weren’t! 😀
After finishing the first batch, they got to dry while the second half of the dough was prepped. This half went much faster, now that we knew what we were doing! Also, we split the second batch of dough in half, right from the start.
Once they were done, it was time to get the water boiling. After a while, I took the longest pasta pieces and broke them in half, to make them a more reasonable length!
Just before the water was boiling, I took them all off the drying rack, to make them easier to handle and carry and break any really long pieces that got missed..
Don’t they look pretty?
And yes. I did cook the whole lot!
Here, I have pretty much just added them to the water. It hasn’t even come back to a boil, yet, and already the pasta is half cooked!
I boiled them for 2 minutes, but that was probably at least half a minute too long! 😀
After draining them, I tossed them in some herbed butter my husband made earlier in the day.
There was have it! Fresh made pasta, with meat sauce.
So, how did it taste?
Many of the sites I found with recipes raved about how good they were, and how you’ll never want to eat store bought pasta again, and so on.
It was good, but I don’t know that I would say it was that good! At least, not when considering the amount of physical labor involved. The family did all really enjoy it, though.
I actually found the pasta a bit thin. I like a toothsome pasta. In rolling it out, I went to the recommended “3” on the knob, based on what I’d read (the instructions with the machine suggested going to 3, but with the numbers reversed on the knob, that actually meant 4). It was certainly thin enough to see through, but I think that, next time, I’ll just bring it down to 4 on the machine.
It does use a lot of eggs, though. We’ll have to buy more, before we can do this again! Or we could make it with just water. The instruction manual has a recipe, too.
We definitely can do some experimenting! 😀
All in all, I’d say this was a success, and I am quite glad we got the machine to make the job easier! Even with the handle falling off so often! 😀