Homemade pasta is very easy to make, consisting of only three or four ingredients that are easily obtainable at any supermarket. When making homemade pasta such as spaghetti, linguini and ravioli, you must roll the raw dough to a uniform thinness and consistency. Although it is possible to do this with a rolling pin, a pasta machine makes the job much easier. Because the rollers will be rotating dough through them, it is important to secure it properly to the worktable.
Types of Pasta Machines
Many different types of pasta machines are on the market, including manual and electric appliances as well as attachments to other kitchen appliances such as stand mixers, juicers and grinders. The types that need mounting are the manual ones and some of the electric varieties. Some brand names of these types include Atlas by Marcato, Imperia, Cucina, Norpro, Roma and Paderno. Prices for these brands range from $30 to more than $1,000.
The manual type of pasta machine, such as the Marcato Atlas, uses a crank to operate rollers that compress the dough. For this design, a vise-like C-clamp is provided to secure it to the table for use. Therefore, the table or countertop must have an overhang. The clamp allows you to use it on an overhang of up to approximately 1 1/2 inches. Additionally, the overhang can be up to 3 inches thick.
Some counters and tables do not provide sufficient overhang or are too thick to mount a pasta machine. Also, some people do not like to clamp a pasta machine to expensive countertops. In these cases, alternative surfaces must be used. Alton Brown of the Food Network show "Good Eats" recommends using an ironing board. The clamp mounts easily on the metal surface past the lip of the board. Another advantage to using an ironing board is that a clean fabric cover on the board is suitable for working with pasta dough. Brown, in his book "Gear for Your Kitchen," suggests dedicating an old ironing board just for pasta-making and securing the pasta machine through the holes in the metal board (and through the cover as well), with bolts and wing nuts from the hardware store.
Many electric pasta makers have a large, rubber suction cup on the bottom of the machine that mounts the pasta maker. Instead of using a clamp, place the machine on any table or countertop so that the entire bottom of the machine is on a continuous, flat surface. A lever on the machine, when pulled, causes the suction cup to press onto the surface, thus securing it. Suction-type mounts are not as secure as the clamp types and must be repositioned frequently during use.