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Making Matzoh With Your Kids is a Great Way to Talk About Passover

Unleavened bread opens the door to cultural conversation.

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Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way: I am not a very good baker, and I hail from about the most Gentile background you can imagine. (When I was growing up, there was one rabbi for my whole state.) And my secular-public-school-attending kids aren’t exactly swimming in knowledge of the great faith traditions.

Meanwhile though, in my life, the kitchen is the best place to consider history and culture, and definitely the most enjoyable way to explore the wider world with my curious and endlessly inquisitive children. With Passover coming up, I wanted a way to talk about that major moment in another tradition—so at the very least, they might have more of a clue about what’s going on with many of their friends and neighbors than I did when I was their age.

We decided to make matzoh: a chance to talk to my eleven-year-old about the backstory of the festival of unleavened bread, and an excuse for my five-year-old to don her apron and do some dough-rolling, both of which she loves. (On that note, our Kitchen Academy I Loaf You box features all kinds of awesome bread-related activities, recipes, and lessons.)

I used a recipe from Leites Culinaria, itself adapted from The Mile End Cookbook. There are a lot of other options, of course. This promised bread at its most elemental: nothing but flour, salt, water, oil, and heat, united to create sustenance.

(Note: Our matzoh adventure was a humble cultural-awareness project. If you’re interested in adding kosher, homemade matzoh to a seder spread, you’ll want to explore more deeply—that requires more preparation and tighter execution.)

My assistant and I sifted the flour, cranked the stove up to the max, and mixed together our rough, sticky dough. In retrospect, I over-interpreted the recipe’s invitation to add more water if the dough seemed too dry, which led to some soggy patches. Nor could we attain quite the desired degree of flatness with our hand-rolling—the recipe’s direction to use a pasta machine makes sense, but you work with what you have. I added some time under the broiler to crisp our too-thick rookie matzo as much as possible.

The results were, perhaps, not going to highlight anyone’s upgraded seder feast. However, the long, crinkly oblongs of salty, crunchy-chewy, unleavened bread proved oddly delicious and compelling to eat. They disappeared almost as fast as they came out of the oven. My eleven-year-old commented that it seemed like a good thing to bring on a trip, which frankly felt a little on the nose. But conversation and connection are where awareness begins—ideally around the stove, and around the table.

The Little Sous Kitchen Academy box teaches kids to become creative, confident cooks. Check out our subscription options and get ready to have some hands-on family fun!

Homemade Matzoh

Adapted from The Mile End Cookbook, via Leites Culinaria.

Note: this recipe isn’t kosher for Passover.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 4 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more (lots more!) for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup warm water, plus a little more

Steps:

  1. Step 1

    Preheat the oven, plus a pizza stone or baking sheet, to 500°F.

  2. Step 2

    In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients, using ¾ cup of water to form a dough. Add more water—a few drops at a time—if it seems dry.

  3. Step 3

    Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Flatten a piece slightly and pass it repeatedly through a pasta maker, reducing the thickness each time until you reach the minimum setting. Alternately, you can simply roll the dough as thinly as possible with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.

    Sous Tip:

    The mixing, rolling, and fork-poking (see below) provide the best opportunities to involve kids. The hot-oven stages to follow are jobs for an adult.

  4. Step 4

    Use a fork to prick holes in the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

  5. Step 5

    Bake until the surface of the matzoh is golden brown and bubbly. This can happen in a matter of a minute or two, so keep watch! You can also use the broiler to brown, crisp, and lightly blister the matzoh.