Today matzo is gaining popularity as a salt-free, fat-free, high-fiber (especially in the whole-wheat version) alternative to crackers. It is increasingly available year round in local supermarkets (but look for it first in the ethnic foods section). Besides regular or plain matzo, there is extra-thin matzo, salted tea matzo, types made with apple cider rather than water, egg matzo, and one called the Everything Matzo, flavored with onion, garlic, poppy seeds, and malt. Once opened and resealed, a box of matzos will keep virtually forever, but to renew their crispness, place individual pieces on a baking sheet and heat in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, or place on a paper towel and microwave on high for 10 to 20 seconds.
You can use matzos as you would use crackers. Serve them with spreads such as herb-flavored cream cheese or herb jellies, break them up into soups, or use them in puddings and casseroles. In almost any recipe that calls for torn bread as an ingredient, you may substitute matzo.
Makes four 7-inch matzos
It’s fun and a challenge to make your own matzo, and to try to complete the whole job in less than 18 minutes. (This is approximately the amount of time it takes for water mixed with flour to begin to ferment, or leaven itself.) Two or more people working together make this an enjoyable group project. However, unless the flour is certified for Passover, these matzos would not be considered kosher.
- 2 cups flour (unbleached flour or 1/2 cup whole wheat and 11/2 cups white flour)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup cold water
- Preheat the oven to 500°F.
- Mound the flour and make a well in the center.
- Pour in 1/2 cup water and work the mixture into dough, adding more water as necessary so the ball is barely sticky.
- Pull the dough apart so that you have four pieces about the size of a golf ball and with a floured rolling pin, roll out into rough squares or circles as thin as possible (so you can almost see through them).
- Place the rolled-out matzos on a lightly greased cookie sheet or one that does not require oiling, then prick the dough in rows with a fork that is sharp enough to pierce it.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges of the matzos turn golden brown. These are good to eat when still hot and soft. When completely cool, they won’t be as crisp as the commercial type.
- Store matzos in an airtight container.
Click here for the main article, The History of Matzo.
Jo Ann Gardner is an avid gardener, writer, and cook who resettled in the Adirondacks. She and her husband have written a book to be released in April called Gardens of Use & Delight (Fulcrum Publishing).