When thinking about todays post I was thinking about all the things I have been prepping for days. Sauces, fillings, stocks, schmaltz are just a few things I have been working on. However, those of us who grew up with the tradition of Passover and/or a full on Seder all have one thing in common, Matzo or Matzah… As Jews scattered around the globe traditional foods changed with the available foods of where they settled. What someone who is Jewish can consider traditional can very wildly but one constant on every Passover table is the matzo.
Many Americans today think of a white box, with an orange stripe, and green writing when they think of matzo. This bland flavorless cracker of sorts was both dreaded and anticipated. I was one of those Americans. Take note of the fact that I said “was” because recently I discovered something amazing. You can make matzo at home! This shouldn’t be a revelation. The idea is that this is something the Jews could make in the desserts of Egypt so why couldn’t you make them today in a modern kitchen?
Thankfully I didn’t have to look far for a recipe. The Gefilte Manifesto has a recipe for homemade matzo. What I loved about their recipe is that it’s simple and produced amazing results. I also loved that they offered to flavors, one that uses rye and one that doesn’t. Knowing that I have even been thinking with all the different types of flours I have on hand it might be fun to make different flavors in future years.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 ½ cups All-purpose Flour (sub in ½ cup of alternative flour if you wish to change it up)
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 5 ounces Warm Water
Preheat your oven to 475ºF. Yup! Crazy Hot! Have a cookie sheet or pizza stone in your oven. You could probably even use a cast iron pan. Whatever you’re going to cook the matzo on needs to be in the stove heating up with noting on it.
Mix all the ingredients together until it forms a ball. This can be done in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Once it has all come together either knead it on the counter or continue in the bowl. Add additional flour little by little until you no longer have a sticky dough. It might be a little tacky but that’s Ok.
Divide this into four portions. Roll each portion out as thin as you can. Flour it as you turn and/or flip the dough as you’re rolling it out to prevent it from sticking. If you want nice neat matzo trip the edges to form a square. Add the trimmings to the next piece of dough you roll out. Poke the dough all over with a fork then carefully transfer the matzo to the oven. Bake for 2-3 minutes on each side, turning with tongs, keeping a close eye on it as it can quickly burn. Cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container.
(Looking for it to be Kosher? All you have to do is make sure the time from adding the water to getting them all cooked doesn’t exceed 18 minutes. Be organized and it can be done!)
Additional uses and techniques:
A family tradition for us in our meal is to have Farfel Kugel. This is essentially crushed matzo, so, crush the matzo! To do this put your sheets into ziplock and squish it like it’s bubble wrap!
Another aspect of the Seder is to have little sandwiches of two pieces of matzo with a blob of horseradish in-between. Normally you have to take a full size matzo and try to break it into meaningful sized pieces. However when you’re making it yourself you can make it any size or shape you want. For mine I used a round cutter to make perfect equally shaped pieces. To cook them I did it on the stove. I used a cast iron pan and made it as hot as I could. I placed the small discs in the pan and waited till they started to curls and puff up just slightly. Then I used tongs and flipped them over.
Lastly for the three matzo on the table I wanted to have a neat and precise presentation. I picked the plate they were going to go on and measured the space inside the brim. I then used a ruler to cute out exact pieces. This way they fit perfectly on the plate. Now all I have to is make a matzo cloth… That can be a project for next year…