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Millions of people across the country dove head-first into new hobbies last year, as the pandemic kept most of us at home. From baking bread to making matcha, it seemed like everyone learned a new skill in the kitchen. Another top quarantine trend: making pasta.
The secret of homemade pasta is that it’s not nearly as difficult to make as it sounds. The best pasta makers can make rolling and shaping the dough more efficient, creating a thinner dough and cutting uniform strands. You can still create thin, delicious fresh pasta without the machine too, using only a rolling pin and dough cutter. Here’s what to know about both ways of making pasta at home.
How to Make Homemade Pasta
Pasta dough is simple to make, needing only four ingredients: flour, eggs, olive oil, and salt. First step is to pile the dough on a flat counter surface and make a well in the middle. Add the rest of your ingredients to the well, and use a fork to scramble together. Begin incorporating the flour into the eggs and oil mixture slowly, by pulling flower from the inner walls of the well without breaking up the flour “bowl” you’ve created. Continue like this until the eggs have been fully incorporated and you have a loose dough.
Next step is to form the dough into a ball and begin to knead. Press firmly into the dough with the heel of your hand then pull the dough toward you. Make a quarter turn and repeat the process again. Continue for about two or three minutes until the dough is elastic. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes or so.
This is when you’ll start the rolling out, slicing, and shaping process. Here are the tools to use:
Pasta Maker: You can find either a stand-up pasta maker that attaches to the counter with a clamp, or as an attachment for a stand mixer (in which case you can use the mixer itself to incorporate ingredients). Divide the dough into four pieces, and flatten. Using the widest setting first, pass the dough through the machine. Fold the dough in three parts like a book, and pass through the machine again. Continue until you’ve done this five times. Now, set the machine on the next setting, and roll again, continuing to reduce thin settings until you’ve gotten to your desired thinness. Then, attach the noodle setting and slice the noodles.
Choose a model with a variety of thickness settings and slicing options, so you can choose between thick lasagna noodles, thin fettuccine ribbons, or spaghetti.
Rolling Pin: If you don’t want to use a pasta maker, you can also make pasta by hand without one – it just requires a little more precision. You’ll want a reliable rolling pin, to roll the dough by hand to your desired thickness in the shape of a long rectangle. A good rule of thumb when rolling is to work from the middle, outwards. Make sure your work surface and rolling pin are both generously sprinkled with flour. Once you’ve rolling the dough to your desired thickness, fold the dough like an accordion so it creates a stack of layers. Then, using a bench scraper or very sharp knife, cut through the stacks to create even-sized long noodles.
1. GOURMEX Stainless Steel Manual Pasta Maker
This is a great, solid pasta maker that has all the basics covered. It is well-constructed from quality materials, and comes with seven different thickness settings and a double cutter head attachment to choose between noodle widths. The removable handle and clamp make it easy to both use and store, and people find it to be a reliable tool that attaches sturdily to the counter without wobbling. We would note that it can be a bit of a chore to clean, however, so keep this in mind.
2. Joseph Joseph Adjustable Rolling Pin
Every kitchen should already include a solid rolling pin, but if you (for whatever reason) do not, we heartily recommend this adjustable pin, which comes with removable rings that allows you to uniformly roll out dough to exactly your desired thickness.
3. Pro Dough Pastry Scraper
You can use any sharp knife you like to slice pasta dough by hand, but we prefer a bench scraper when cutting any kind of dough. You apply direct downward pressure with a bench scraper, unlike the sawing or rocking motion with a regular chef’s knife, which makes it easier to make a precise cut when working with soft dough. This one is stainless steel, with an ergonomic handle and handy measurements printed on the edge.
4. ANTREE Pasta Maker Attachment
The fanciest of all our recommended pasta-making tools, the Kitchenaid mixer attachment streamlines all of the flattening and cutting processes by including all the functions in one attachment with different settings. So rather than removing and replacing different attachments to adjust thickness or cutting style, you can simply adjust the setting using the dial. It comes with eight thickness settings and three cut style options for spaghetti, fettuccini, or lasagne. The all-in-one style also makes it comparatively easy to clean.