Matzo is an unleavened bread traditionally eaten by Jews worldwide during the Passover Seder, a family dinner and retelling of the Jews escape from Egypt when they were slaves. It’s a simple cracker board made from flour and water. Additions to commercial matzo include salt, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomato and egg. The eating of matzo during the Sedar is an obligation, but its consumption is optional during the rest of the Passover week.
And, trust me, Fellow FoodBeest, it does to one’s digestive tract exactly what one would expect of a week’s worth of consuming flour and water would do.
There are plenty of explanations for the tradition of eating matzo during Passover. Historical: Passover is a commemoration of the exodus from Egypt.The Israelites left Egypt in such haste they could not wait for their bread dough to rise; the bread, when baked, was matzo. (Exodus 12:39).
Symbolic: Symbolizing 1. redemption and freedom; 2. a reminder to be humble, and to not forget what life was like in servitude; 3. foregoing the leavening agent which symbolizes corruption and pride as leaven “puffs up”. Eating the “bread of affliction:” both a lesson in humility and an act that enhances the appreciation of freedom. Maybe.
The deal is that from the time the flour gets mixed with the water, it has 18 minutes (under rabbinic supervision) before it is finished bread. 18 minutes.
So how do you make this stuff taste good? We think we found a way.
Mr. FB has become known for “his” matzo. It’s actually a New York Times recipe that includes olive oil for better flavor and leaves out the Rabbinic supervision for ease of making.
This year, The Lean Bean, our 5-year old granddaughter, came over to help make Matzo. It was the perfect thing for a five-year old to make with her “Papa.” If she can do it, so can you, Fellow FoodBeest.
What it Takes to Make Olive Oil Matzo
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Additional sea salt, optional
How To Make Olive Oil Matzo
Heat oven to 500 degrees. Put flour, salt and olive oil in a food processor.
It gets just a little noisy if you’re five. Once machine is on, add 1/2 cup water. Continue to run machine until dough forms a firm ball, rides around on blade and is not at all sticky. (If you prefer, whisk together the water and oil and add this to machine all at once.)
Cut dough into 12 small balls — this is easiest if you cut the ball in half, then half again, then into thirds — and flatten each into a 3- to 4-inch patty.
On a well-floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll each patty into a 6- to 8-inch circle. The shapes can be irregular, but dough should be so thin you can almost see through it.
Put dough on ungreased cookie sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper, sprinkle with sea salt if you like, and bake for two to three minutes, keeping a very close eye on the crackers — they can burn very quickly. Once they begin to puff up and brown, flip and cook for another minute or so on second side. Repeat with all the dough and let cool completely.
Yield: 12 servings.