Why is this Passover different from all others? Because we're making matzo at home | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Why is this Passover different from all others? Because we're making matzo at home

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: HANNAH LYNN
CP Photo: Hannah Lynn
Passover begins on Wed., April 8, so that means it's almost time to dig into the matzo. Eating matzo on Passover originates from Jews not having enough time for their bread to rise before their exodus from Egypt, creating a flat, cracker-like thing instead of bread. But the lack of a leavening agent like yeast makes matzo a strangely perfect quarantine baking project, since many baking aisles have been sold out of yeast for months. Or if, like me, you have no car and the closest grocery only has one matzo.

I have never made matzo, never even thought about making it, because store bought is perfectly good. But I also never thought about cleaning my door knobs with rubbing alcohol, yet here we are. It's a simple recipe with four ingredients. How hard could it be?

Note: This recipe is not technically kosher for Passover, since I did not use kosher whole wheat flour. But I think working with what few ingredients you already have is in the spirit of matzo's history. Several recipes I read also indicated that for it to be fit for Passover, the time from prep to finished bake must be 18 minutes or less. It took me roughly three hours.


I worked from this recipe, making a couple of changes along the way.

The first step is to gather the ingredients: flour, oil, water, salt. 
click to enlarge None of this is kosher. - CP PHOTO: HANNAH LYNN
CP Photo: Hannah Lynn
None of this is kosher.

The second step is to drop your phone in the flour. It will leave a funny indent, which you will want to quickly take a picture of to show your friends before quickly blowing flour off your phone and wiping it down. Unfortunately, your phone will have flour in its crevices for the rest of its life, but that's why this night is different from all the others.
click to enlarge This is where I found the body, officer. - CP PHOTO: HANNAH LYNN
CP Photo: Hannah Lynn
This is where I found the body, officer.
Next, take off the phone case, give it a rinse, and let it hang out in the drying rack.

Heat the oven to 500 degrees, placing a baking sheet inside. If your kitchen is small, it will get toasty, so be prepared to shed layers as you go.

Mix 2 ¼ cups flour, ½ teaspoon of salt (I used a full teaspoon), and ⅓ of a cup of olive oil in a food processor. (You could probably do this by hand.) With the food processor running, stream in ½ a cup of water. As the recipe indicates, the dough will become "supple." Don't get too excited.
click to enlarge Is this "supple"? - CP PHOTO: HANNAH LYNN
CP Photo: Hannah Lynn
Is this "supple"?
Plop out the dough, form it into a ball, and divide it into pieces. I divided it into eight pieces, but the recipe calls for 12. Follow your heart (and patience level).


Using a floured surface and a floured rolling pin, roll each piece of dough until thin enough to see through. Do not expect to get perfectly square matzo shapes a la Manischewitz. These will be shaped in haphazard blobs.

Sprinkle each matzo with salt and use your hands to press those little salt crystals into the dough so they don't fly off. If you have everything seasoning or something similar, that would also work well.

Poke the matzo 10-69 times with a fork. This makes sure it doesn't puff up and also makes it look more like actual matzo.
click to enlarge Thin, salted blobs - CP PHOTO: HANNAH LYNN
CP Photo: Hannah Lynn
Thin, salted blobs
This is when you realize your small oven and small baking sheet will only fit a maximum of two matzos at a time. Carefully drag matzos onto the baking sheet and put in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Flip halfway through, or after 3 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Do not walk away or get lost in your phone because these babies burn fast.
click to enlarge The closest to a square matzo I could get - CP PHOTO: HANNAH LYNN
CP Photo: Hannah Lynn
The closest to a square matzo I could get
Repeat this until all the matzos are made. When done, stack on a plate so you can look at your matzo tower and say "suck it, Manischewitz." But also "I never fully appreciated you, Manischewitz. This is hard work and I'll never take you for granted again."

The matzo will taste extremely dry, as it is known to be. It will taste not quite like the store-bought matzo, but close enough. Eat it your favorite way — mine is with butter and garlic salt. Send a picture to your family and friends so they will be impressed.

Optional: wrap it in a napkin, hide it, and order your roommates to hunt for it.

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