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Using Pasta Makers

First, see our "Making Dough" page for advice on creating your dough to the right consistency to suit your pasta machine.

Next, follow the instructions which ship with your pasta maker to prepare and set up your machine, then follow or adapt the following principles.

Making thin pasta sheets

using a pasta makerThe first step is to divide your dough into small, palm sized amounts. Using your hands, shape these lumps into rectangular shapes. These shapes should now be thinner than your finger. And the shapes need to be narrower than the pasta maker itself. Because you have a number of lumps of dough, keep the ones you aren't working wrapped in plastic so they don't dry out.

It can be useful to use a rolling pin at this stage to assist in preparing your dough to the right depth to suit your machine.

The initial step is to set your pasta maker rollers at the widest setting, and turn the handle (on a manual machine) to feed the dough through a few times. Support the dough as it comes out of the machine, but don't pull on it.

Re-fold the processed sheet of dough over on itself as required to suit the next pass through the machine. Next, you adjust the rollers to the next setting which is a bit narrower and feed the dough through once or twice again. Two passes at each width setting often seems to work well. Take your time and don't skip any settings until you achieve the narrowness you want.

Keep repeating this process, moving the rollers closer and closer together, and feeding the dough through again and again. Your dough sheets will get longer and longer. But you will notice now that your dough is getting smoother and smoother. A little bit elastic and a little bit shiny. An extra pair of hands is really helpful here!

Special Notes: Sometimes it helps to fold the expanding pasta shape in half, but then you will need to click the pasta maker back to the widest setting. Also, it helps to very lightly dust the dough on both sides with fine flour before you pass it through your machine to avoid sticking.

Cutting the pasta

Finally, you have a thin sheet of freshly made pasta, ready for the final stage of preparation. (If you started with four lumps of dough, you will now have four sheets). The next step is to cut the pasta into a variety of shapes to suit the delectable meal ahead. Pasta makers mostly ship with optional attachments and adapters to cut the dough. This allows you to make ravioli and other styles of pasta.

Tip: do the cutting as soon as possible after your pasta dough is made, before it has a chance to start drying out. But if you need a break, you can cover it with a clean and damp cloth such as a tea towel for a short time.

Feed the dough through the cutting mechanism and catch the pasta on the other side with your hand. As soon as you have cut the dough in your chosen style, hang the pasta on a pasta drying rack or wooden dowels. It should have a feeling slightly like leather after 15 minutes or so.

Don't forget to read your instruction or recipe book for other creative culinary options.

By the way, it's very useful to have an extra pair of hands available when it comes to simultaneously turning the handle and feeding the pasta through the machine, and also for cutting. That is why pasta making is an enjoyable and fun family activity. And there is more creativity and pleasure to follow, when you start to make your creative pasta shapes. Not to mention the fun of cooking your favorite pasta sauce recipe, or experimenting with new ones.

An almost infinite variety of ingredients are available to fill certain styles of pasta or to fill between pasta layers. There are countless styles using fills, from ravioli to tortellini. And fresh pasta cooks in a fraction of the time that dried pasta from the grocery store takes. It's no wonder that pasta dishes are so highly popular in so many countries around the world!

The rolled pasta you make at home is lighter than extruded pasta purchased in stores. So it cooks much more quickly.  And, your delicious home-made pasta absorbs the flavor of sauces more richly, giving you greater texture and taste! You will quickly discover that it's true - the flavor is the difference! Bon appetit - you've earned it!



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