I have memories of my dad making pasta on a Sunday, while my mum, my sisters and I watched a movie. The pasta tasted so much better than store bought pasta. I remember my parents making pesto from the basil in our garden and fresh garlic and Italian Parmesan. So, all these years later, when they said they were giving away their pasta machine, I couldn’t let that be the last home made pasta that I had tasted.
For months now, this pasta bike has been staring me down, daring me to give it a go. And when I had a quiet Saturday, I decided to face my fears and try to make that pasta I still remember so vividly.
I looked up a recipe from the internet; there are hundreds. I recommend looking around for an authentic looking recipe. The one I used was ok, but not quite right.
The principle is this:
First, you pour the flour onto the bench, or in a big bowl. Make a well in the centre and add your eggs. I poured the flour onto the bench, feeling quite authentic already. However, I was using common or garden white plain flour. I feel this might have been my first mistake. My 20-20 hindsight research tells me that there are pasta flours that are probably better.
I then added the eggs into a well that I had made in the centre of the flour. When you’re making pasta, ensure you make this well big enough, or you end up with egg all over the bench. I suddenly saw the wisdom of the bowl.
Then, this recipe told me to whisk the eggs, slowly bringing the flour into the well. My escaping eggs made this quite difficult. Again – the bowl might’ve been a good idea. I ended up just bringing it all together by hand and kneading it a little to get the pasta together. I suddenly had flashbacks to when Dad was making the pasta, and always made it look easy. Perhaps it was that I simply arrived when the pasta was put onto the table. Here I was, definitely making mud pies, and thinking it was unlikely that pasta would arrive at the end of this journey.
Then, you knead the pasta dough for about 10 minutes (depending on your recipe), divide it into 4 pieces, and leave to rest. This was when the whole thing became a little more fun, and a lot more promising.
Next, you get to roll the pasta out. You first attach the pasta bike to your bench with a C-clamp. I could tell things were about to get serious. Then, you flatten out the little ball of yellow dough and roll it through the biggest pasta setting. Fold it in, turn it 90 degrees, and roll. Do this 6 times, and then you get to make the pasta smaller. Then you get to feet it through the cutting roller.
I’ll let you in on a secret. This is not a fast process. I’ve seen Masterchef, and My Kitchen Rules and somehow they’re pumping out pasta in 20 minutes. Maybe I’m missing something. This dinner will not be appearing in any cookbooks entitled “15 minute meals”. However, it is a cheap, and (eventually) tasty therapy.
You get to knead that pasta dough into submission, even when it keeps trying to look horrible and doesn’t seem to want to come together. You get ten minutes of upper arm tension relief, kneading that dough into a smooth ball and then you consider that you’re maybe not a failure after all. You get to throw flour everywhere. You get to roll it out until you’re in a zen state, and suddenly pasta appears before your eyes.
Now, I have to admit, this wasn’t the pasta from my childhood. Whether it was the recipe, or something I did, it wasn’t quite right. But if you’ve got a spare couple of hours, and feel the need to knead out your troubles, I highly recommend making some therapeutic pasta. Enjoy!