All the Pasta Ladies
I’m used to teaching classes about how to make soap. So, it was a fun change to teach the Bramble Berry Studio Creative Team how to make pasta. I’ve been exploring the process at home with my kids, playing with it at work and getting into the transformation of the flour and eggs into something doughy, chewy and downright delicious.
The studio space is wide and open, and it fosters creativity because of the set up. We have multiple tables on castors that can move around so we pushed a few of them together, gathered round and started to form our dough.
They had a variety of flours to choose from, and though I gave some general thoughts on my favorite types of flours for pasta making, everyone was excited to try what they thought would be the perfect mix. Amanda, the Creative Director said, “I’m doing 100% semolina flour because I bought a tiny bag of semolina pasta in the store the other day for $7, and it was really delicious!”
The funniest part about making pasta is forming these little volcano like structures from the flour and then trying to get your eggs to stay in the volcano structure while you slowly start to fold the flour into the eggs. I still haven’t mastered this traditional form of incorporating the eggs and judging from the laughter around the table, no one quite has this level of nuance down either.
We all understood after a few minutes of kneading why Italian grandmothers had the reputation of having strong arms; it’s quite a work out! It sort of feels like manipulating play dough when the pasta dough is ready. That’s how you know it’s time to let the dough sit for 30 minutes to let the gluten bond structures relax. If you don’t, the pasta springs back too quickly, and the shapes don’t hold.
We had two pasta machines to play with and they really acted differently. It was surprising that the same machine could feel so different from two different vendors. Rolling the dough is the most cathartic, zen-inducing part of the entire process. You start out thick and then progressively roll out thinner and thinner sheets. By the time you get to making the fettuccine or angel hair, the pasta action coming out of the machine is positively mesmerizing. It feels like you could easily hypnotize someone with the softly falling noodles.
It was such a fun experience and such a joyful, laughter-filled project to do with a group. One of the things I love about pasta is the instant gratification. It was delightful. We laughed a lot. Everyone got to cook and eat their pasta that night! I can totally see doing a pasta-making party with girlfriends in the future.