With Passover just around the corner, I wondered why nobody ever made their own matzo. I mean, the stuff from the box is just shy of being cardboard. Surely, I could do better, right? Maybe.
Ever the kitchen adventurer, I decided to try my hand and it to see if was worth the effort.
I began by researching recipes. While there were a few different variations out there, the basic premise was to use flour and water to form a dough. While flour is not permitted during Passover, it is used in the making of matzo. As the story goes, our ancestors were rushing to escape the evil Pharaoh by hightailing it out of Egypt as quickly as possible. Therefore, the bread did not have time to leaven, resulting in a flat cracker, which became known as matzo.
When making matzo to commemorate Passover, it must be made from start to finish within 18 minutes, or it is no longer acceptable to eat during the holiday.
I assembled all of my ingredients and utensils and waited for the oven to preheat to 500 degrees. When the oven reached the ideal temperature, I set the timer and got to work. The first batch did make it through in the time allotted, but since this was also an experiment in getting the recipe and technique right, the subsequent tweaked versions were done more slowly. I also do not recommend stopping to document the steps on Instagram, which took precious minutes away from the process, and left my phone a bit gooey.
I opted to use a blend of white and whole wheat flours, sifted together with a little kosher salt. I used 2 cups of flour to one cup of water, and mixed the dough by hand.
Once it was mixed and kneaded for a few minutes until it achieved the desired consistency, I divided it into about 8 pieces. As I kneaded and rolled the dough, I continuously added a little flour to keep it from getting too sticky.
I tried using a rolling pin, and ultimately opted for putting the dough through the flattening gears of my hand crank pasta machine. I tried cutting it into crackers with a biscuit cutter, and tried baking it in a long sheet. The matzo gets pricked with a fork to keep it from puffing up in the oven.
The small crackers were not easy to cut, as the dough tended to snap back a little when the pieces were so small. I thought they might be good for making matzo brittle s’mores if they were precut, since it is hard to cut regular matzo evenly without it breaking. They never got quite brown enough and frankly they seem a little bland.
Verdict: not really worth it. (Although I will see how they do when slathered in toffee and chocolate!)
Next, I tried to brushing the long flatbreads with olive oil and sprinkling them with coarse kosher salt and a little basil before baking. That seemed to up the matzo game considerably. Topped with a little chopped tomato and basil, and perhaps a bit of Parmesan cheese, these could be the perfect Passover pizza. Slathered with a little artichoke dip, or maybe some hummus? SInce they can be made in 18 minutes, with few ingredients, they could be a viable anytime snack base. I think we may be on to something here!
While not matzo in it’s purist form, these flatbreads do conform to the criteria necessary to make Passover matzo, and should be acceptable to eat during the holiday.
So, do you think it’s worth trying to DIY matzo for the holidays?
On your marks, get set…..GO!
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