The best matzo we've ever tasted is handmade shmura matzo. We were introduced to it by a friend who orders a shipment from New York each Passover. Comparing it to industrialized matzo from the grocery is like comparing a fresh baked artisan loaf to Wonder bread.
Shmura matzo is made from ingredients and by techniques strictly regulated by the Jewish dietary laws applicable to Passover. The grain, usually wheat, is carefully guarded from the time it is harvested to its use, to ensure no fermentation takes place. Leavened foods are forbidden during Passover.
Matzo represents the unleavened bread the Israelites grabbed as they quickly departed Egypt. To be acceptable for use during Passover, matzo must be made in 18 minutes or less, from the time the water is added to the flour to the time the finished dough is removed from the oven.
The recipe is quite simple, flour, water, and a little salt. The technique to get in right a little more complex. Our first two attempts fell short, even worse than boxed matzo. Using AP flour and filtered water produced a tasteless cracker that made us think of prison food descriptions- thick, doughy, and tasteless.
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For our second attempt we decided on a combination of whole-wheat flour and AP flour. To soften our dough we replaced some of the water with olive oil. The texture was better, the flavor improved with the addition of whole-wheat flour and olive oil. And maybe it will help with the post Passover bloat.
Unfortunately the matzo was still too thick. So, we grabbed our pasta maker to help roll the dough as thinly as possible. Using the pasta roller also helped add the speed we needed to beat the timer. This last attempt gave us what we were looking for, homemade matzo, thin and crunchy with a little flavor. And yes, we did it in 18 minutes!
Whole Wheat Matzo
2 cups AP flour
1-cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup olive oil
1 cup filtered water
Preheat oven to 425 F
Heat a sheet pan or baking stone in the oven while preparing the dough.
Matzo can be made by hand or in a stand mixer.
1.Sift the AP flour, whole- wheat flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
2.Stir the dry ingredients to combine.
3.Add the olive oil and stir until absorbed by the flours.
4. Continue to stir and gradually add the water. Only add enough water for the dough to come together without excess flour in the bowl. You may need more or less water depending on the dryness of the flour and the air. We used the entire cup of water.
5.Once the dough has pulled together begin to knead the dough. Knead until dough is no longer sticky and feels smooth. (If using stand mixer switch from paddle to dough hook)
6. Divide the dough into 12 golf ball size balls. Keep covered with a clean kitchen towel.
7. Flatten one ball with your hand. Roll the dough with a rolling pin until 1/16-1/32 inch thick. OR Feed the dough through a pasta roller. Use the first, third and fifth setting.
8. Trim the ends of the rolled dough and cut into pieces 5-6 inches long.
9. Place the dough on a parchment sheet. Dock all over with a fork. Place the parchment on the sheet pan or baking stone in the oven.
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10. Bake the dough for 3 minutes. Turn the matzo over and bake an additional 2 minutes until light brown.
Store in a tightly sealed container.
Note: If making matzo kosher for Passover: make the matzo after the kitchen has been prepared for holiday cooking. Use kemach shel matzo shmura (kosher for Passover flour). And -- consult a Rabbi!