Sunday, March 29, 2009

Home-made Matzoh? Your Great Grandmother Made It, Why Not You?


OK, this is a hard year for everyone. We all are trying to save as much as possible. If you want some of that fancy designer matzah at your Seder, you may not be able to find it for the price you can afford.

The alternative is to make your own.

I know, I know. You are afraid. “G-d forbid!” you think to yourself, “What if I don’t get it completely cooked? What if it somehow rises!! OH NO!”

Do you think your great grandmother had some boxes of Pesach matzah she could just pull from the pantry for the Seder? Don’t you think she was equally worried? Of course.

But she did it anyway.

After all, it is in a custom, written of in Mishna Berura, that we should bake our Matzah on Erev Pesach. Rabbi Mansour suggests that the reason people do not keep this custom is that they are too worried about the matzah having some chametz. This is probably true, but I think it is equally true that the women didn’t want any flour in their kitchens that close to Pesach when they are trying to cook for the Seder.

However, you can still make your Matzah a little earlier in the week (when the rule of Bittul is still in effect and a bit of protection to you!) As Rabbi Mansour explains:

On Pesah, if even a tiny morsel of Hametz mixes with food, the food becomes forbidden. We do not employ the standard rules of Bittul (the “nullification” of forbidden food by a majority of permissible food) when Hametz mixes with food on Pesah. Before Pesah, however, there is greater room for leniency in this regard.

Homemade matzah is really not that hard to make. The key is to make roll it out thinly enough so that it is cooked well, and to make it quickly enough that it is finished baking before that magical 18 minutes is up. You might want to learn how to do this before Pesach and see if you can get it down.

Although some people prefer to have a rabbi or other halachic authority supervise their matzah making, it is not required. I know that the way the Rabbis check to see if the matzah is completely cooked is to break it. If there are still “strings” of dough, it is not cooked thoroughly. If it breaks cleanly with no “strings of dough” then it is kosher.

Also, the recipe calls for a special kind of flour that has been watched from the time of its harvest until it is baked into matzah. It is impossible to find this flour, I have found, and it is not really a requirement to have it. It is just an extra stringency.

If you have any questions about making your own matzah, don't forget to speak to your rabbi about the specifics.

I am going to try this recipe, but I am not going to mix 3 cups of flour with the water right away. Instead, I intend to make each matzah individually—1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup water: mix it, knead it, roll it out, bake it. Then I will add the water to the next cup of flour while the first is cooking—just to make sure that I can make it under the time allowed. At the very least, I will build my confidence in making matzah.

I am also probably not going to wait for Erev Pesach, as I want to clean my kitchen and don’t intend to have any flour hanging around that late.

Also, it will give my husband plenty of time to decide if he wants to use my homemade matzah or not . . .

How to Make Homemade Matzoh
By eHow Food & Drink Editor

As Passover approaches, boxes of prepared matzoh disappear from shelves of grocery stores. If you want to give something special this Seder, try making your own matzoh bread. All that is required is a little shopping and a lot of cleaning. This quick recipe makes a matzoh suitable for a Passover feast. Read on to learn how to make homemade matzoh.

Difficulty: Moderate
Things You’ll Need:

* 1 cup cold water from the tap
* 3 cups kosher matzoh flour (called Kemach Shel Matza Shamura)
* Measuring cup
* Kosher matzoh flour (called Kemach Shel Matza Shamura)
* Bread peel or sheet pan
* Water
* Large bowl
* Rolling pin

Step 1
Thoroughly clean your oven for Passover. You can use the self-cleaning function of your oven for this or use household cleansers. Do not forget to clean the inside rack of your oven as well.

Step 2
Bring out all of the utensils you intend on using for cooking during Seder. All of these bowls and cooking utensils need to be thoroughly cleaned of any traces of chometz--barley, wheat, rye, oats and spelt. Once the bowls and utensils are kosher, make certain they do not come in contact with anything that is not kosher.

Step 3
The utensils you will specifically need for making matzoh bread are measuring cups, a large bowl, a rolling pin, a large fork and a bread peel or a sheet pan with no side lip for sliding the bread into the oven and taking the bread out.

Step 4
Clean your counter tops to make them kosher. You can also spread out clean butcher paper onto your work space to make certain that your matzoh bread will be kosher. Sprinkle a small amount of flour onto your work surface and make certain that it is evenly spread over an area of two feet in diameter.

Step 5
Spread a small amount of flour onto the rolling pin and set aside.

Step 6
Sprinkle a small amount of flour onto the bread peel or sheet pan that you are using to move the bread in and out of the oven. Set aside.

Step 7
Heat your oven to the highest temperature. Do not use the broil function on your oven.

Step 8
Once everything is prepared, measure out your matzoh flour into the bowl.

Step 9
Set a kitchen timer for 18 minutes.

Step 10
Measure out the water will need. Start the timer and simultaneously pour the water into your flour. You will need to work quickly to finish mixing and keading the dough before the 18 minutes are finished.

Step 11
Mix the water and flour until the dough is consistent.

Step 12
Turn the dough out onto the work surface and quickly knead the dough until it is a firm ball. The dough should not be sticky. Do not hesitate to add a small amount of flour if the dough is too sticky.

Step 13
Roll the ball of dough to 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. The dough should be very thin.

Step 14
Take a fork and poke many holes all over the dough. Carefully move the dough onto your bread peel or sheet pan and transfer your dough into the waiting oven.

Step 15
Bake the bread for two to three minutes, until the matzoh is crisp. Once the matzoh is finished, quickly use the peel or sheet pan to transfer the bread onto a kosher plate to cool.

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