Monday, March 29, 2010

Homemade Matzah: Flatbread Not Cardboard!

On Passover, Jews do not eat bread (or anything that rises for that matter).  Long story short, we do this because indecisive Pharaoh released the Jews (only after all the convincing of the 10 plagues) and they high-tailed it out of there.  In their haste, they whipped up a crude dough but they did not have time to allow it to rise.  Jim Lahey's no-knead technique was a no-go.  And it's a good thing they didn't wait around -- Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his men after the Jews.  Then, the miraculous scene we all know with the Red Sea parting, allowing the Jews to run to safety and (spill some wine) swallowing up the Egyptians chasing after them.  For thousands and thousands of years thereafter, all Jews everywhere would suffer through eating cardboard-esque Matzah, or flatbread typically consumed on the Jewish holiday of Passover.

As a Jew with a bread blog and Pesach fast approaching, I was both relieved and excited to try Mark Bittman's recipe for Olive Oil Matzah.  We modified the recipe a bit by using white whole wheat flour and adjusting the liquid slightly to compensate.  

White Whole Wheat Matzah
(Printable Recipe)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup water (and a little extra)
1/3  cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 550°F
  2. Stir together flours.
  3. Add oil slowly as you mix with a hand blender or food processor.
  4. Help dough come together with hands.
  5. Divide into 12 equally sized pieces.
  6. Roll out as thin as you can.
  7. Arrange on baking sheet and either make little holes with a fork, or don't.  
  8. Bake for two minutes on first side.
  9. Flip, and bake for another minute until golden brown.
  10. Let cool and top with haroset, horseradish, or some cream cheese and enjoy!

Leavening Agents:  A short list of culprits on the rise...
Lactobacilli bacteria (Sourdough starter)
Baking soda (like in Irish Dairy Bread Buns)

A leavening agent is anything used in a dough or batter that causes it to rise thereby lightening/fluffing the finished product.  In bread, when the water mixes with the flour a matrix supported by gluten is formed in the dough.  This matrix traps the bubbles from yeast/lactobacilli/baking soda leaving behind the beautiful holes we all see in our loaves.  For the eight days of Passover anything that rises is a big a no-no.  My chametz (sourdough starter) is living in the freezer for the time being.

“If that’s moving up then I’m moving out.”

Disclaimer: The kosher-ness of this Matzah is questionable.  From what I understand, to get the little U in a circle you need to finish the cooking process in 18 minutes flat.  Our first batch was out of the oven by then but since we have a tiny oven we had to cook the 3-minute flatbreads in shifts.

Chag Sameach
- Sarah


  1. Loved the Olive Oil Matzah. Mine didn't turn out as bubbly or crisp - I think I added a smidge too much water and oil or maybe the dough wasn't as thin as possible. Love all your posts and hope the the KAFlour guys and Mark B are paying attention to your huge talents!!

  2. This goes in the recipe box for next year. Did you try making matzo brei with it?

  3. Haste is the essence. One does not need special flour or a stopwatch for a meaningful celebration. Matzo is all about subverting the dominant paradigm anyway.

  4. This recipe was easier than I anticipated. The matzah is tasty and more flavorful than the box kind. My oven only heats to 525 but baked the matzah for the same time. I only added a tsp of salt but is was a little too bland and would recommend up to a TBS. Do you have an egg matzah recipe?