Think matza baking is easy? Well, it is — kind of, sort of
Before you run to your computer to send us a letter to the editor about my matza adventure, be open-minded and have a sense of fun.
Full disclosure — the matza I made in no way, shape or form is kosher for Passover. Although not impossible to make kosher for Passover matza, you would have to be a “chosen one” to do it at home.
But perfection and kosher for Passover were not what I was going for. Inspired by Edmon J. Rodman’s article for JTA, “Escaping the box: 18 minutes to Passover freedom,” (you can read it on our website, <a href=http://thejewishchronicle.net/view/full_story/12427340/article-Escaping-the-box–18-minutes-to-Passover-freedom?thejewishchronicle.net) and our executive editor’s inspiration at the same time, making matza seemed like it could be fun.
And it was.
After fretting for days about not being able to get kemach shel matza shamura (flour watched from the moment of harvest to the moment of packing, making sure it does not come in contact with moisture), I decided not to get hung up on that. There would be so many reasons that this matza would not be kosher for Passover, I just let it go.
Problem one solved. I went to the East End Co-op and shoveled what looked liked endless scoops of wheat flour into a bag. Turns out it was only enough for two giant matzot.
My next hurdle was getting over the fear of judgment. OK, so the matza won’t be kosher. The process would be about the experience, getting my hands full of flour and kneading dough. And possibly to have something delicious to put my whitefish salad on.
Monday afternoon I cleared off my counters and made them spotless (sort of). They are stone, which would mean it would be easy to work the dough on them. I lined up my tools: a glass bowl, Pyrex measuring cup, rolling pin, dry measure cup and a fork.
Earlier in the afternoon, I recognized the need for another set of hands. I was going to be working with a gas grill that would be at approximately 550 degrees, putting matza on burning hot tiles. Also, our editor wanted photos, and I don’t keep a photographer on payroll. I called my friend Judy Vernick for help.
Before Judy arrived, I figured I’d get everything ready: light the grill, line up the tools and then contemplate how the heck I would get the matza to the grill. I needed a tray.
I was ready to go, but Judy was still driving back from Monroeville. I took photos of the tiles on the grill and my tools assembled on the counter and then got restless.
I decided to make my first batch on my own and got the timer ready to start at 18 minutes on the microwave. I would have 18 minutes from start — the water touching the wheat — to finish — all cooked and ready to eat.
The recipe — three parts wheat to one part water — couldn’t be easier. When the water hit the wheat I started mixing the dough with the fork and then with my hands. Just as I had my hands nice and sticky, Judy pulled up. Luckily I had unlocked the front door.
While I kneaded the dough, never taking my hands off it, I explained how to use the camera. Naturally, we had to catch up, but I kept kneading until the dough was ready to roll.
Rolling it out as thin as I could, which I knew was not enough (I probably should have divided it in two) I then used the fork to poke holes in it. This was one gigantic slab of matza, but very cool looking. With the tip I was reminded of, when I was reading about piecrusts earlier in the week, I rolled the matza onto the rolling pin and unrolled it onto a tray.
Now it was stress time — 18 minutes, fire hot grill, Judy talking and taking pictures. The matza lifted up perfectly and I planted it on the grill as carefully as I could. Any part of it that folded a bit in the process could not be rearranged on the tiles because of the heat.
We went back into the house to check the timer and set another one for baking time — two to three minutes. Uh-oh, I forgot to press the start button on the timer, so it still read 18 minutes. We looked at each other and made an executive decision — we were still within 18 minutes, including the baking time.
Not having the time to get the second matza ready to bake before we went back to the grill, we just stood around talking and laughing until it was time to get the matza. It was perfectly grilled and we started nibbling on it as soon as it was in the house.
We remembered to start the timer on the second matza and nailed it at 13 minutes. Success.
(Angela Leibowicz can be reached at email@example.com.)