I know I can purchase an extruder to go on my KitchenAid to turn out some penne, but I wondered how it was made before all these newfangled gadgets hit the cooking scene.
What I discovered was before extruders became popular, people made each pasta piece individually, often using a contraption like this:
A simple, ridged block of wood with a small rolling pin. Technically, the pasta that is formed using this device is called garganelli. The difference between it and penne is that garganelli has a flap, whereas penne is a perfect cylinder. More info can be found at Cuisinivity.com.
I made a batch of pasta dough using flour, eggs, a little olive oil, and salt. After it rested for about 30 minutes, I divided the dough into four pieces.
With David's assistance, we started the process of rolling out the dough using the pasta machine. The machine we use has its widest setting at #7, the lowest at #1. We started at #7, rolled the first piece of dough through, folded it in thirds, and rolled it again. This was repeated nine more times.
When we reached the tenth time through, we notched the pasta machine at setting #6 and rolled again. This process of notching down and rolling continued until we reached setting #3, which we thought might be the right thickness.
David cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch squares. At first I thought they looked pretty tiny, but once I rolled them out on the garganelli board, they were just the right size.
After rolling out each piece, the garganelli were placed on a baking sheet, lined with a lightly floured tea towel.
You can view short video at Cuisinivity to see how the rolling process works. I found that not much pressure was needed with the rolling pin, and that occasionally flouring the pin kept the dough from sticking to it.
The recipe states letting the completed garganelli dry, but not for how long. I checked them after a couple of hours and they seemed to have firmed up nicely.
I heated up some homemade pasta sauce, and cooked the pasta in a big pot of salted water. After combining the pasta into the sauce, it was time to plate.
It certainly looked good, but the final test would be the taste and texture. The good news is that we really like the taste of the garganelli. The bad news is that they seemed a tad thick and many of them collapsed.
We suspect that the pasta needs to be rolled out to setting #2 or maybe even #1. We also want to let them dry out more.
All in all, I will definitely be doing this pasta again. Hopefully my next attempt will bring perfection, or something close to it.