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Making your own pasta

greedygirl Nov 27, 2008 11:52 PM

This is one of the few things I haven't yet tried my hand at, cooking-wise. So I thought I'd ask my fellow Hounds for advice before I get started.

How difficult is it without a pasta machine? Is it worth getting the pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid stand mixer? If so, I can ask Santa to bring me one!

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  1. p
    pigtails Nov 28, 2008 02:34 AM

    not everyone will agree, but i think it's a piece of cake with a machine and a total hassle without one. i haven't used the kitchenaid attachment, but my little countertop gadget is really easy, and i'm not sure the kitchenaid is much cheaper.

    it is possible to make by hand - just too much work for me. and it's totally mindless and wonderful with a machine.

    1. t
      tmso Nov 28, 2008 03:10 AM

      I'm going to both agree and disagree with pigtails here. With a machine (I have a simple hand-cranked one) it's very easy. Rolling the pasta out by hand isn't very difficult if you have the right rolling pin and a large, stable surface to work on. It's certainly easier to use a machine, as that's practically no effort, but it only takes a little bit longer to do it by hand, and you end out with a different product. More texture on the surface, which is often (but not always) an improvement.

      Now, that said, I have two caveats, which explain why I'm kind of agreeing with pigtails: the first is that there is a technique to it, and you need to fairly comfortably and rapidly execute a series of rolling outs, tugs, pulls and rotations to get it right. If you do it hesitantly and haltingly, you'll end out with a crappy product. I have no idea how hard it is to learn that from a book; if you have any Italian friends, you might ask them if they or anyone they know, is comfortable rolling out pasta by hand and would be willing to teach you. The second caveat is that durum pasta is not fun to roll out by hand. Up to about 1/3 durum, 2/3 soft wheat it's okay, but past that and it gets to be work.

      Without a doubt, get a pasta machine, though. With one you won't hesitate to make fresh pasta after work on a random wednesday night. The Atlas ones are lovely.

      10 Replies
      1. re: tmso
        m
        MartinDC Dec 2, 2008 02:01 PM

        Italians don't generally use durum semolina for hand-made pasta. That's for extruded pastas. My favorite flour for handmade pasta is King Arthur bread flour. Resiliant and slightly chewy. The Dean & Deluca cookbook has an excellent section on makiing pasta by hand, and describes each type of flour.

        1. re: MartinDC
          chowser Dec 2, 2008 03:47 PM

          But for Americans who are used to the dry boxes, I find using a little semolina is a good mix to get that al dente pasta that we're used to. All purpose flour makes a very soft pasta and I haven't tried the 00 flour. But, I always have KA bread flour and will give it a try.

          1. re: chowser
            m
            MartinDC Dec 3, 2008 05:35 AM

            Give the bread flour a try. I tend to like it a lot, but everyone has his or her preference. I tried tipo 00 once, and it is a much lighter pasta. Mine was kind of airy. I was expecting something quite different though probably just out of ignorance.

            1. re: MartinDC
              chowser Dec 3, 2008 05:49 AM

              Do you use the same proportion flour to egg with bread flour?

          2. re: MartinDC
            t
            tmso Dec 3, 2008 01:25 AM

            Anytime you say, "Italians do" or "Italians don't" in reference to cuisine, you risk stepping in it. The culinary traditions are just too varied. Perhaps in Emilia they use only soft wheat, but there are certainly plenty of pastas made by hand with, in whole or in part, durum, buckwheat and other grains.

            As for references, I'm pretty happy with the ones I have in Italian.

            1. re: tmso
              m
              MartinDC Dec 3, 2008 05:27 AM

              Yes, I did generalize -- something I do occasionally when I'm writing faster than I'm thinking!

              But is it common to make a dough from hard wheat and water for rolling out by hand? I thought you needed extra machinery to process durum semolina successfully, using high pressure for one thing.

              Considering that, I just buy a good quality imported dry pasta for dishes that traditionally use harder pastas.

              1. re: MartinDC
                t
                tmso Dec 4, 2008 01:50 AM

                It is common to make pasta at home from semola di grano duro, oil and water; or farina di grano tenero and egg; or a mix of the two. Looking through some recipes yesterday evening, I found several recipes each calling for all durum wheat flour; three parts durum to one part soft; half-and-half; one part durum to two parts soft; as well as equal parts soft wheat flour, durum flour, and whole soft wheat flour. That's not even counting pasta made from non-wheat grains.

                Fresh pasta made from grano duro is, as the name implies, stiffer and more difficult to roll out by hand. That's part of the reason it's often made mixed with soft flour. Pasta machines are especially useful with these stiff doughs, but some of my working-class aunties and uncles can roll it out by hand with relative ease.

                Extruded pasta is entirely another thing. That does indeed require special machinery and is not typically made in the home.

                1. re: tmso
                  t
                  tmso Dec 4, 2008 12:51 PM

                  As an example of a durum-dominated pasta, try tagliolini ai funghi:

                  300 g hard-wheat flour
                  100 g soft-wheat flour
                  1 egg
                  oil, water, salt

                  Make your pasta with the above ingredients, replacing the three eggs you would be missing if this were soft-wheat pasta, with water and a spoonful of oil each. Roll out the pasta and cut into very thin noodles, about 3x3 mm. Serve with a sauteed mushroom, butter, wine sauce.

          3. re: tmso
            m
            MartinDC Dec 2, 2008 02:09 PM

            One advantage to hand rolling with an unfinished wooden pin and stretching the pasta is that it makes a rough surface. Cranked pastas have a very smooth surface. I like to hand-roll pasta for certain sauces because it will clink better. Steel-rolled pasta is good for lasagne. But it's all good.

            1. re: MartinDC
              t
              tmso Dec 3, 2008 01:28 AM

              Yeah, lasagne is a good example of where steel rollers are good; also, I prefer it for most filled pastas other than ravioli, and for most hand-shaped ones like farfalle. They already have enough interesting features on the outside.

          4. eLizard Nov 28, 2008 03:18 AM

            i have the KA attachment, and it's a snap. i can't imagine how difficult it would be without something....

            1 Reply
            1. re: eLizard
              k
              KiltedCook Nov 28, 2008 04:16 AM

              My Lady and I make fresh pasta at least weekly. We have the attachment for the KA and love it. It's not the rolling out that's the hassle. That can be done with a rolling pin; and we do when I'm make Apicius' Roman Rags soup and some other sheet pasta. It's the cutting into spagetti or fettucini strips that's a pain without the attachment. Put a pasta-bug in Santa's ear. You won't be sorry!

            2. JoanN Nov 28, 2008 05:14 AM

              I love my KA attachment as well. I'd never tried to roll pasta by hand since I don't have the surface on which to do it. It took a couple of tries before I got into the rhythm of it, but now I think nothing of whipping up a batch of pasta at the last minute for a quick evening meal. And the pasta is worlds beyond anything that comes in a box. The first time I made Hazan's Baked Green Lasagne it was a revelation. Do it. Not only will you be happy, Santa will, too.

              1. chowser Nov 28, 2008 05:37 AM

                I found rolling by hand difficult. I think it depends on how precise of a person you are and I had problems rolling it to a uniform thickness. With the clamp on pasta machine, it's much easier, if I could solve the need for a third hand (one to feed, one to remove, one to turn the handle). I'd love to try the pasta attachment but am not sure I want to spend the money on it right now.

                1. b
                  bacchus_is_watching Nov 28, 2008 06:39 AM

                  I'd first like to add a disclaimer that I have only made gluten free pasta and to my understanding it is 'tougher and stronger' the wheat pasta.
                  That being said I love my hand crank pasta machine! Once you gt the hang of it it's quite simple! I can easily do it by myself but it is fun to do with a friend! (especially your first time!) I tried rolling it out once and I deemed it impossible to get it thin enough!
                  I have recently received the KA attachment to make shaped pasta (Macaroni, spaghetti, etc) And have only tried it once but I need to work on my technique a bit before I would serve it to company!)

                  1. lollya Nov 28, 2008 07:18 AM

                    pretty easy once you get the hang of it. we have the hand crank version (i did a TON of research, but found people like it most) i really really enjoy the fresh pasta. It's amazing.

                    1. w
                      walker Nov 28, 2008 11:50 AM

                      Last year I taught myself to make fresh pasta, Hazan's recipe usually, made by hand on the counter. I got tired of using the hand crank thing (the crank kept slipping out and falling on the floor). Finally got the KA pasta attachment (3 pieces) on Amazon for about $119. Wish I'd done it a long time ago, I really love it. Now, I must look for someone to give give the old one to. I think lasagna made with fresh pasta is so superior.

                      1. i
                        itryalot Nov 28, 2008 01:56 PM

                        For me, pasta making is one of those relaxing, therapeutic tasks that take me back to childhood. While kneading and mixing by hand is not an issue (in fact, a doctor once told my grandmother that it is good therapy for her arthritis), the rolling is another thing. We use the crank and move it with increasing thinness. It produces a silky texture. My aunt in Italy has tried several times to demo it to me, with no success. She is a master and can roll out a freakin' tablecloth sized transparent sheet of dough. God bless her. My mom has been working on her technique and she is very skilled, but can't match my aunt. When I retire in 25 years, I will work on it. Until then, it is a pipe dream.

                        1. j
                          jaykayen Nov 28, 2008 05:43 PM

                          I have no problems doing it 100% by hand. A pasta machine saves me only a few minutes on rolling, and it's just about as much elbow-grease. I believe the pasta attachment is 150, which for me, is a lot of money, and I'd rather buy other things for my kitchen than the attachment.

                          The one thing I do wish I had is a cutter for noodles. But for ravioli/lasagne, it doesn't really matter for me.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: jaykayen
                            yayadave Nov 28, 2008 06:54 PM

                            Check out this gadget. I just bot one and have not tried it yet. It looks like it would speed up cutting hand rolled noodles for chicken noodle soup.

                            Forgot!!
                            http://www.homeandbeyond.com/prod-021...

                            1. re: yayadave
                              j
                              jaykayen Nov 28, 2008 08:51 PM

                              yep, something like that.

                            2. re: jaykayen
                              w
                              walker Nov 28, 2008 09:04 PM

                              The one I got from Amazon, with free shipping, was $119. Now, looking it up, I think it's $123. It's a set of 3. One rolls a flat sheet -- you can use for lasagna or canneloni. Then, there are 2 more, one for fettucine, the other for spaghetti.
                              http://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-KPRA...

                              1. re: walker
                                yayadave Nov 29, 2008 06:58 AM

                                There are also other cutter sizes available for different width pastas.

                                There's also an extruder.
                                http://www.cooking.com/products/shpro...

                                1. re: yayadave
                                  w
                                  walker Nov 29, 2008 09:51 AM

                                  I've read/heard the extruders don't work well.

                                  1. re: walker
                                    yayadave Nov 29, 2008 10:34 AM

                                    I think you have to have the dough at just the right consistency. If it's too dry it puts too much pressure on the dies. But that's the way you would make tubular shapes like penne.

                                    I was just surprised to find an attachment for the KitchenAid.

                                    Probably there are other people around who can say.

                                    1. re: walker
                                      m
                                      MartinDC Dec 2, 2008 02:05 PM

                                      Most home-kitchen extruders won't give good results at all. Now if you want a REAL extruder, you'll need a bigolaro!

                                      http://fxcuisine.com/Default.asp?lang...

                                      1. re: MartinDC
                                        yayadave Dec 2, 2008 03:03 PM

                                        Oh my!! I had forgotten about FX. What a visit!!

                                        1. re: MartinDC
                                          yayadave Dec 2, 2008 03:40 PM

                                          Speaking of fx, I just bumpt into this garganelli comb available here.

                                          http://www.fantes.com/pasta-makers.ht...

                                          1. re: yayadave
                                            m
                                            MartinDC Dec 3, 2008 05:06 AM

                                            What a good website. Does anyone have experience making ravioli with the Atlas attachment? How is the quality compared to rolling out two sheets and filling, cutting by hand? Next month I'm doing a dinner for 8 people, and I might want to do ravioli as the first course. But 8 is a lot of people for ravioli in a home kitchen.

                                            1. re: MartinDC
                                              yayadave Dec 3, 2008 08:30 AM

                                              On the good side, for the first course, you're probably not going to fill a dinner plate with ravioli for each guest.

                                              Here's some opinions about the attachment vs. the plates.
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/490253

                                              Plates http://www.fantes.com/ravioli.html

                                              Raviolissima Attachment http://www.fantes.com/marcato-ravioli...

                                              1. re: MartinDC
                                                w
                                                walker Dec 3, 2008 09:46 AM

                                                After trying a ravioli form I did not like (from Sur la Tabla) I bought one that's really great from Wms-Sonoma. It's made by Norpro and is metal with a plastic form to indent with. Try it, if you don't like it, they'll take it back. Both stores are good that way.

                                  2. p
                                    posh Dec 3, 2008 12:35 PM

                                    I started making pasta a little while ago. At first I was happy with anything I made, then I started to obsess about improving my technique, then I sort of gave up to pursue other culinary projects.

                                    So from one novice to another:

                                    Making it by hand isn't too hard if your standards aren't especially high. At this point it would be difficult to make pasta that would please a discriminating Italian, but I can make something nice enough for my own dinner without too much trouble.

                                    Buy a hand crank machine if you're interested in making pasta occasionally. I got an off-brand one at a discount store for $25. I think it works as well as the atlas that I've used. They make much better novice-level pasta than my hands, though you might have better luck if you like to bake.

                                    Buy the KA attachment if you've got more money to spare or think you'll be making pasta more often. Someone offered me one and I turned it down because I didn't think it would be much better than what I have. The next time I made pasta I realized how much faster it would be if I hand a hand that wasn't devoted to cranking. I started looking on craigslist, which has supplied much kitchen paraphernalia that is not an automated pasta machine.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: posh
                                      yayadave Dec 3, 2008 02:15 PM

                                      That's just about a perfect answer to the original question.

                                    2. l
                                      lcool Dec 4, 2008 03:06 AM

                                      Mostly it is a practice issue,like flakey pastries.There is no reason to start "by hand",it simply lengthens the practice curve.I make pasta at least three times a month,large batches.About 40% ends up in the freezer for lasagne al forno.
                                      I have a large all commercial equipment kitchen.However like Posh had no interest in an
                                      "attachment" to the machine,KA or other.I prefer to kneed/crank the dough by hand.The set up for the atlas is too easy.The cutter options are all I want 99% of the time.

                                      1. r
                                        rouxmaker Dec 4, 2008 07:39 AM

                                        Make it a group-activity! Like you, I had never tried my hand at pasta making. BF was making a wild boar ragu which screams for soft parpedelle, so I decided to try, even though I didn't have a pasta machine. I put the guests to work, each of us taking turns rolling. When someone got tired, someone else stepped in. And I could cut the completed sheet while someone else rolled the next one. That gave everyone, even the non-cooks, a key role in the success and enjoyment of the meal. It was great fun!

                                        I used close to a 50-50 mix of AP and Semolina flour. A long resting time at room temp helped with the rolling. As did the 4-foot long rolling pin brought by a neighbor.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: rouxmaker
                                          chowser Dec 4, 2008 09:06 AM

                                          I can't imagine trying to work a 4' long rolling pin! I don't have a surface that's big enough for that. How did it work? Did one person roll? What type was it?

                                          1. re: chowser
                                            r
                                            rouxmaker Dec 16, 2008 01:27 PM

                                            My friend's mother used to own a restaurant and she got some of the equipment when her mother retired. We just rolled it on a regular-width (clean) kitchen countertop (formica) dusted with flour. One person rolled at a time and we took turns.

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