Five (Other) Great Uses for Your Kitchen Pasta Maker
A kitchen pasta maker can do more than turn out great pasta. In fact, you might find it sees more use cooking and baking things like these...
A kitchen pasta maker is a great tool to have, and not just for making pasta. Truth be told, many people who by a home pasta machine often end up using it for primarily other cooking and baking-related tasks, and less for the fresh pasta potential (don't get me wrong, they're great for fresh pasta, too, but also so easy to find more tasks to delegate to them).
I personally started off just this way – wanting to make great, fresh pasta—and I have a handful of times over the past six months or so that I have owned my pasta machine, but more and more lately I am finding that it is absolutely excellent for a number of other cooking tasks. As these are things that I make more often than fresh pasta, this has become a new life for my pasta roller….and it's seeing so much use it has even taken up permanent residence on my baking table. No dusty, forgotten drawer for this pasta machine!
A Note about Buying Your Pasta Maker
First off, let me quickly point out that what we are talking about is the roller-type pasta machine similar to that pictured here. Choose your brand or preference; I started out with a very reasonably-priced CucinaPro from Amazon.
What you do not want if this type of cooking is your focus is the extruder-type—it's the roller-action you will be using for the most part here.
Roller-Style Kitchen Pasta Makers
|CucinaPro 150 Imperia Pasta Machine|
|CucinaPro 177 Pasta Fresh Pasta Machine|
|KitchenAid KPRA Pasta Roller Attachment for Stand Mixers|
Why I'd Rather Use a Pasta Machine
Basically these days, when I come across a recipe that includes a semi-firm dough which can be made dry enough not to stick in the roller, and it needs thin, consistent rolling, and a total width of rolled product of six inches or less will do, I turn to my kitchen pasta maker. You see, I have a thing about rolling doughs and the like: as much as I cook and bake (which is extensive and has been since I was a child), I hate trying to roll out dough with a rolling pin, and I especially hate having to try and get anything rolled thin. My home pasta roller solves this problem for me, and in much shorter time.
Five Other Things to Bake With Your Pasta Roller
And so without further preamble, let's take a look at some of the ways you can use a pasta maker other than making pasta:
- Crackers. Believe it or not, yes. A good, basic cracker recipe is not at all expensive or difficult, as I've recently come to figure out. You can make some excellent, tasty, premium crackers in all sorts of flavors and varieties and even fine-tune them to dietary and allergy needs with a few simple pantry ingredients. To be successful, though, and get a good crisp you need a consistent, thin cracker dough….enter the pasta machine.
For a good basic cracker recipe, try this one here: Basic Cracker Recipe
- Wonton Wrappers (or egg roll wrappers). Again, a good end-product relies on very thinly-rolled dough and to get your dough think enough without ripping with a roller would be hard. I cranked my pasta roller down to the eighth setting (it has 9) for wonton wrappers to make homemade Crab Rangoons and found handling, filling, and sealing easy. Once again, the basic ingredients for either dough are cheap staples you probably already have. I'll be trying the egg roll recipe to make mozzarella sticks next.
For a good basic wonton wrapper recipe, try this one from About.com: Basic Wonton Wrapper Recipe
- Consistent Cookies. I actually tend not to make a lot of cut cookies simply because I get frustrated with the rolling, the sticking, and the varying thicknesses that cause some to burn. A quick roll on the wider settings of a pasta roller (which are your lower numbers) will ensure consistent thickness and manageable dough just right for things like sugar cookies and cut-out cookies.
- Mini Tarts and Decorative Pie Pastries. A large pie might be too much of a bother with a pasta roller (although you could piece-and-stick the strips together), but if you are making small individual pies or tarts a kitchen pasta machine is a great candidate for cranking out quickly lengths of pie crust dough…this would be of especial benefit when making large numbers of small pies or tartlets. You could also roll the crust if you want to do something like create a decorative braided border, or make strips for a lattice-top pie or cutout shapes to decorate pies and tarts.
- Fondants and Candy Clays. Are you afraid of fondant, too? Afraid you won't be able to roll and work it and achieve that smooth, consistent finish? Whip out the pasta maker (and perhaps a little extra starch or confectioner's sugar) and get rolling! This is recommended by many top cooks and experienced bakers. It is not always the best solution for covering a large cake without creating seams, but smaller cakes, shaped decorations, cookies, and cupcakes can be easily done in real style.
For a video tutorial using a kitchen pasta machine for fondant-covered cupcakes, watch here: Fondant Cupcakes Video
For a tutorial on how to create a stunning fondant bow, go here: Fondant Bow Instructions
It Doesn't Have to End Here!
Of course home pasta makers are great for a variety of other uses, from crafts to actually making pasta, but that's for another day. Give some of these ideas a go and see where your kitchen pasta maker takes you!