Rolling a pasta sheet by hand
You can roll pasta by hand or using a machine. When I was growing up, all we had was a 'mattarello' or rolling pin. These days pasta rolling machines are cheap and there is no shame or disadvantage in using one.
Rolling pasta by hand is a lovely skill for those who like to get back to basics. It takes a little practice but after rolling a few sheets you'll get the hang of it and it is no slower than using a machine.
- You will ideally want to get your hands on a long rolling pin as this lets you create larger pasta sheets. If you use a smaller one then you will need to roll long, thin sheets and it will be quite a lot slower to roll the same quantity of pasta.
- The best surface to roll on is wood. The worst is a cold, slippery surface like marble. I find that slippery surfaces cause the flour to slide away very quickly. Also, it's hard to spread any flour back across the surface as it just wipes away. However, you can really roll pasta on any surface so don't be put off if you have a marble or slippery worktop.
- A tablecloth is great for storing the pasta sheet and stopping it drying out. You'll see this in the video section below.
The more you roll, the thinner (and larger) your pasta sheet will be. Generally speaking stuffed pasta, like ravioli, will want to be thinner, whereas ribbon pasta, such as fettuccine, tagliatelle and pappardelle, will be a little less thin. When the pasta is cooked, it will expand and so will become thicker, so bear this in mind when judging the thickness.
It's worth watching the entire video if you've never rolled pasta by hand before but you can jump to points of interest as well.