Have you bought or been given a pasta machine and then it’s sat in the back of the cupboard for months or even years? It seemed like a good idea at the time but in reality who has time to make their spaghetti from scratch? And why is it so much trickier than it looks on TV?
Well dust off that pasta machine and give it another whirl with these top tips for how to actually use a pasta machine to make spaghetti simply and successfully!
1: You don’t need to use ’00’ grade flour. It is the correct one to use, but you can use strong white flour (bread flour) instead which is more widely available.
2: Remember the rule: 100g of flour to 1 egg. As you scale up the recipe you will probably end up with more pasta than you need so you may need to tweak this until you find the right amount for your family. E.g. 300g of flour and 3 eggs will feed 2 adults and 3 young children in our household. I also put in a tablespoon of olive oil.
3: Mix your pasta dough ingredients in a food processor for a few seconds. Its faster and less messy than doing it by hand.
4: Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and kneed for 10 minutes until you feel the dough change and become stretchy and more pliable. I will look smoother too and will not stick to your worktop:
5: Wrap it in cling film and pop it in the fridge as you need to leave it to rest for 30 minutes while you figure out how to securely attach your pasta machine to the worktop (I attached it to the end of the worktop to make it easier to do step number 8).
6. Put your pasta machine on the widest setting to start with. Take your pasta dough and cut it in half or thirds depending on how much you’ve made to make it easier to work with.
Pass each ball of dough in turn through the rollers, old in half and repeat several times. You’ll see the consistency change and the pasta will stretch more easily.
Above: Dough rolled once, below dough that has gone through the machine 8-10 times.
7: Once your dough is more pliable pass it through the machine several more times narrowing the rollers by one notch each time. As your pasta gets longer cut it into 30 cm lengths to keep it more manageable to handle.
8: Finally pass the dough through the spaghetti cutter attachment. Get a helper to catch the spaghetti in a bowl with a handful of flour in it. Toss the spaghetti in flour to stop the strands sticking back together.
9: Put the spaghetti on a dry tea towel while you finish off the rest of your dough.
10: Time to cook your pasta! You need to boil a lot of water to cook the pasta in otherwise the water becomes too starchy and your spaghetti will stick together. As a general rule you need 1 litre of water per 100g of pasta you’ve made. You also need to add quite a lot of salt to the water. I read in a cook book this should be 10g of salt per litre of water but to be honest I was worried about how much salt I was adding to the kids food so I only did 1 tablespoon (15g) in the 3.5 litres of water I used (2 kettles full) and this still worked fine. Make sure the water is boiling vigourously before adding the pasta.
11: Cook the pasta for about 2 minutes. It doesn’t need to be boiled for anywhere near as long as dried pasta so this part is really quick. Scoop your pasta out of the pan and put it straight into your sauce. Never rinse your pasta as it will just stick together. If your sauce is not stretching far enough or the pasta starts to stick then add a ladle full of cooking water to the sauce.
12: Serve immediately and enjoy. It will taste so much better than dried spaghetti and now you know how to actually use a pasta machine to make spaghetti you’ll find yourself wondering where you can store the pasta machine for ease of access and whether you can turn your hand to all the other sorts of pasta!
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