Bake Soft Maṣṣāh/מַצָּה (Matzah) at Home

How was real maṣṣāh/מַצָּה made home?

This is a recipe⁽¹⁾ for real maṣṣāh/מַצָּה, a basic unleavened flatbread. The result will be soft, pliable, and historically authentic. It should hopefully be identical to what has been baked in Jewish homes for millennia (before commercial “matzah” bakeries transmogrified this bread into crackers).

Agents (human or machine)

  • Kneader, either human or stand mixer
  • Shaper(s), as many as possible
  • Baker

Equipment

  • Oven
  • Unglazed tiles⁽²⁾ or pizza stones, enough to line an oven rack
  • Food scale
  • Large bowl or stand mixer
  • Cutting board or clean flat surface
  • Non-stick rolling pin (or clean hands)

Ingredients per batch

  • 1 lb (454 g) flour, preferably the Passover variety⁽³⁾
  • Approximately 1 US cup (237 ml) or ½ lb (227 g) water, chilled or cool⁽⁴⁾
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) kosher salt

Directions per batch

  1. Line the lowest rack in your oven with the tiles. Set the oven to its maximum temperature on the grill setting, around 500° F (260° C). Wait until the tiles have reached the same temperature⁽⁵⁾, about an hour. You can check this with an infrared thermometer.
  2. Fill your bowl or stand mixer with the flour and salt. Starting with ½ cup water, slowly pour as you combine it with the flour. Stop adding water once the ingredients are fully integrated and form one complete ball of dough that is soft but not sticky. If it’s too sticky, add a little bit of flour. The final amount of water will vary, depending on many factors, such as flour quality and humidity.
  3. Kneader: Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes.⁽⁶⁾
  4. Break off manageable chunks of the dough, between ⅛ and ⅙ of the complete mass, and give to every shaper. Continue to knead the original dough during the following steps.
  5. Shaper(s): Shape the dough into a flat thin circle, either by hand or with a rolling pin.
  6. Place the circles onto the hot tiles.
  7. Baker: Monitor the dough in the oven and and bake each side until darkened, about 1–2 minutes per side. Air bubbles are normal.
  8. Cool flatbreads inside a folded tea towel.
  9. If there is dough left, repeat steps 4–8.
  10. Wash and dry all doughy surfaces (bowl, surface, and pin).⁽⁷⁾
  11. Bag and store flatbreads in a cool environment.
About an hour after your oven has reached its maximum temperature, your tiles will reach their own.
Bake the flatbread for 1–2 minutes per side.
Result: soft flatbread for Passover!

Notes

  1. It’s also an update to a recipe I posted to the late Google+ a few years ago.
  2. Such tiles are available cheaply in many hardware stores.
  3. You can can get flour from a “matzah” bakery; but note that the quality will vary between bakeries. Alternatively, you could grind whole wheat grains yourself. However, contrary to popular belief, Passover flour is probably not strictly necessary.
  4. Avoid warm water because is a better environment for yeast and, thus, leavening. However, it is not strictly necessary to “draw” your tap water the previous day before sunset.
  5. Flatbreads are always baked on hot surfaces, such as a heated pan or a tandoor. Since “matzah” bakeries use hot ovens with hot air, rather than hot surfaces, they fail to produce actual maṣṣāh/מַצָּה. The above directions are designed to reproduce an ideal flatbread-baking environment inside a modern oven.
  6. Kneading stimulates gluten production, which will hold your unleavened bread together, allowing you to easily make a “Hellēl wrap”, a.k.a. korēkh/כֹּורֵךְ. As long as you are kneading, that time does not count towards any leavening time limit.
  7. Theoretically, washing everything before repeating the process is not necessary unless enough time has passed such that the dough residue has captured yeast from the environment and yeast has metabolized enough of that dough to actually make it rise noticeably. With normal dough, the bare minimum time required for such a process is enough time to walk from Magdala Nunayya to Tiberias, which is not fewer than 48 minutes, contrary to popular belief. With mere dough residue, that time could be far longer.