Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Countdown to Passover: Making Matzah

IMG_3507Yes, I know.  I'm crazy. 

But here's the thing:  My kids have been getting really excited about the Passover story.  Asher has been asking a lot of questions in response to the dramatic retelling on Shira's Passover CD, and I've been happy to answer.  He seemed especially intrigued by the idea of the Jewish people's having to pack up and leave their homes so quickly, probably because of our recent move and sojourn.  Our family is in a very in-between place, just like the Jewish people leaving Mitzrayim, and so our conversations revolve around how the two situations are similar.  His curiosity and insight are remarkable, at least I think so.

Anyway, after writing this post about the value of Doing Without, I realized I was really moved by the part of the Passover story that chronicles the panic of preparing for a long journey in haste.  I pictured parents with babies strapped to their backs and children tugging at their ankles, deciding if the clothes on their backs would be enough as they slung unproofed dough into hot ovens.  Doing the best they could do.

Then, when I was writing my review of Shira's Passover CD, I ran across this blog post where she encourages us to make our own matzah, and to do it the Kosher-for-Passover* way - from the minute the water touches the flour, it has to be done in eighteen minutes or less, lest the flour has a chance to rise.   "Okay, Shira, I love you, but you are TOTALLY NUTS," I thought.  Then I kept reading.  The picture she painted of a family pitching in and bonding over the rushed steps was really enticing.  Plus, she says the matzah tastes AWESOME compared to the boxed stuff.  And, of course, it's way more frugal than the $3-a-box stuff at the store.  I was sold.

This morning, after Nesyah went down for her nap, we set our timer for eighteen minutes and got to work.

We sanded down our rolling pin to remove the chametz.
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We mixed three parts of flour with one part water,
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and mixed it by hand to form a ball.
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We rolled it out as flat as it could get, and then rolled it out even flatter.
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We poked it full of holes so that it wouldn't puff in the oven.
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We slung it into a 525 degree oven on a couple of upturned Pyrex dishes that had been heated right along with the oven.  (Shira's dad recommends lining the oven with red bricks.  Awesome and authentic.  And frugal!)
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We took it out after five minutes and let it cool.
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We ate the matzah.  A lot of it.
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Because of the way it fell on the Pyrex, some of the edges had a perfect jelly pocket (boxed matzah doesn't have that!)
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As we worked, we kept saying, "hurry up!" and telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt like we were really there.  Asher thought it was awesome and is still talking about how we had to hurry to bake it before Pharoah changed his mind.

*Since we decided last-minute but before we have actually done any Passover cleaning to try our hands at matzah, we did not do the preparatory steps you have to do to make it truly KLP, like kashering bowls and utensils, scrubbing down the oven, etc.  If you are making matzah for use on Passover,  you should use kashered surfaces and utensils and make sure to thoroughly sand down your rolling pin and change your parchment paper after each eighteen minute batch to remove post-18-minute mixture, and frogs, from your surface (after all, we ARE still in Mitzrayim!)
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  Also, it's custom to refrain from eating the matzah before the actual Seder, which we transgressed. Obviously.
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Even though it's not practical this year because of our sojourn at the non-KLP Chez MyParents, I definitely plan to bake all our own matzah next year.

Does your family have a matzah-baking tradition?  Would you like to try to start one?

9 comments:

  1. Super cool that you made Matzo with them!! Good for you!! Love the ones with the little jam pockets! They actually look yum!
    ---
    Daniela
    http://isreview1.blogspot.com

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  2. Oh my gosh, I want to try! You're amazing!

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  3. This is awesome. I'm going to try it next year when my son is almost 3. I think he might be a little young, and me a little overwhelmed with Pesach prep, to do it this year.

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  4. You never cease to amaze me!!

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  5. Hello Frugal,
    Rabbi David L Kline, here, abba of Shira. Loved your Matsah baking as well, of course, of your review of Shirlala Pesach.
    Our granddaughters will be in Israel for a year. If you were in Boston, we'd adopt your three for a year. Barbara has been doing challah with ours since they could stand on a chair.
    Keep up the good work,
    David

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  6. How fun, I think we might try baking matzah. My 7 y.o. daughter would love it! We also just bought the CD after listening to the samples on amazon. Thanks for helping get us in the Pesach mood.

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  7. i think it's great that you are enthusing your kids with experiential Judaism and the matza baking looked fun, but even if you made all your utensils and oven KLP, you still can't use ordinary flour and make KLP matza because they treat the grain with water at some point in the production. Matza bakeries use special flour.

    My husband has gone for the last few years to a chassidic matza bakery in Stamford Hill, with our oldest son, and this year with his father and our second son. They all had a good time and came back with some great looking matza which we will eat at the sedarim.

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  8. @Mrs. Belogski thanks for your comment! Sounds like you have a fun family tradition going on there. :)

    I know about the wheat issue - I'm planning on grinding our own. But we'll see if it works out. ;)

    Chag Kasher v'sameach everyone!

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Thanks for your comments! They make my day.

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