The Best Matzo? It’s Homemade
This version may not be kosher for Passover, but it’s delicate, airy and quick to make.
By Melissa Clark
Of all the delights of the Seder table — the tender brisket, the golden chicken soup flecked with dill, the wine-drenched charoset rich with apples — commercial, kosher-for-Passover matzo falls pretty low on the list.
Made from only flour and water, the result is hard and bland — perfect as a base for matzo brei or a Hillel sandwich, but not so delicious for snacking on its own.
Homemade matzo is something else entirely. Delicate and airy, and often spiked with a little salt and olive oil, it has potato chip appeal, but it’s much faster and easier to make.
The first time I whipped up a batch, I was surprised at how quick the process was. But it makes sense: After all, according to Jewish tradition, the Israelites mixed and baked their matzo in under 18 minutes before their exodus into the desert. How complicated could the recipe be?
Stirred together with a wooden spoon in one bowl, it’s about as simple as baking gets. The hardest part was rolling the pieces of dough into rounds, like the handmade shmurah matzo I’ve had at many a Seder. But once I let go of that circular ideal, the process went much more quickly.
For this recipe, I added a little whole-wheat flour to the dough, which gives the matzo a gentle earthiness. I also sprinkled the tops with flaky sea salt, but I could imagine cracked black pepper and other spices as excellent seasonings, too. Just be sure to prick the dough all over with a fork before baking, otherwise the matzo will puff rather than crisp.
It’s important to note that as tasty as it is, this recipe isn’t kosher for Passover, because Jewish law forbids any ingredients other than flour and water to be used. However, even if you left out the salt and oil, it still wouldn’t necessarily meet all the exacting kosher criteria.
“It’s nearly impossible to create Passover matzo at home that you can use for the Seder,” said Rabbi Motti Seligson of Chabad, “but making it can be educational and fun, especially for children.”
Luckily, unlike toilet paper and hand sanitizer, kosher-for-Passover matzo is in good supply and should not be hard to find, though delivery might take extra time, he said.
Still, as the holiday approaches, making your own can be a delicious and satisfying pursuit that’s also inherently hopeful.
“Matzo is a symbol of deliverance,” Rabbi Seligson said. And that’s something we can all celebrate right about now.
Recipe: Easy Matzo
And to Drink …
When I think about matzo, I think of matzo brei, a simple concoction of matzo, eggs, butter, salt and pepper that my mother would make year-round. She would brook no deviations from her method, which was savory, not sweet. I didn’t realize it as a child, but like so many sautéed and fried things, matzo brei goes beautifully with sparkling wine. Champagne or its facsimiles would be wonderful, naturally, but so would myriad other choices, whether the crémants made all over France, good cava or sekt, or the many variations of pétillant naturel now coming from just about every wine-producing region. Even a moderately sweet sparkler, like those from Bugey in eastern France, would be delicious. This recipe is reminiscent of my mom’s. Just don’t make it sweet. ERIC ASIMOV
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