Chef Jessica Halper isn’t letting social distancing stop her from celebrating. This year, homemade matzo is on the recipe. Here’s how Chef Jessica is adapting traditions to accommodate social distancing.
Never in my life have I thought to make matzo. Usually, I leave that task to the good people of Manischewitz. It appears, once a year, perched on a shelf adjacent to the jars of gefilte fish in the grocery store. It has a reliably bland taste, much like cardboard, that can only be remedied when smeared with peanut butter or hidden in savory matzo brei. And yet this year, trapped behind the four walls of my apartment, I’d give anything for that box of unleavened bread.
This year, it’s difficult to find the motivation to celebrate the spring holidays. With most of the country adhering to social distancing, family gatherings around the table and breaking bread are going virtual. However, just because we’re physically apart this year, doesn’t mean we can’t share the table – and our traditional holiday eats.
Luckily, matzo is not complicated stuff. At its core, it consists of two ingredients – flour and water – and does not require an outing to the store. The process is quick, as no fermentation is needed, and it results in a delightfully crisp and airy cracker. This particular recipe is adapted from NYTimes Cooking and uses whole wheat flour and olive oil for richness, but both can be omitted if needed.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for brushing
Place oven racks in the center of the oven, then preheat to 500° F.
In a large bowl, combine the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt. Stir to combine.
Add the olive oil and ½ cup of water. Stir until the dough begins to form into a pliable ball. If necessary add additional water, ½ teaspoon at a time, if the dough seems dry.
Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer the dough to the work surface and knead the dough briefly until smooth. Cut into 4 equal pieces.
Working 1 piece at a time, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a 6 to 8 inch circle in diameter until the dough is almost translucent. Reflour the work surface as necessary.
Transfer the matzo to a sheet pan and prick all over with a fork. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and sesame seeds. Bake the matzo for 7 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the matzos to a wire rack and let cool. Repeat with the remaining dough and enjoy!