Matzo (or matza or matzah) is an unleavened flatbread that’s part of the Jewish holiday of Passover in the spring. Matzo is unleavened to represent the haste of the exodus of Israelites from Egyptian slavery, and some say it also symbolizes a reminder to be humble.
As simple as matzo is, I’ve always enjoyed storebought matzo in the springtime, but this homemade matzo is better than any I’ve ever had, probably because it’s super fresh and made with aromatic home milled whole grain flour. In reading up on matzo, I learned that only flour from the following grains can be used for Passover matzo: wheat, spelt, barley, rye, and oats. I picked spelt for this recipe because of its tasty nuttiness and extensibility.
I wanted something that I could roll out quickly, because I also learned from my reading that for matzo to be considered truly unleavened, only 18 minutes can pass from when mixing begins to when it goes into the oven (and some guidelines are even stricter, specifying 18 minutes from mixing to completing the bake). I figured I’d test a wheat with stretchiness that would help people trying to adhere to this time guideline, and I’d use the flour in its whole grain format both for robust flavor and because I imagine most flour thousands of years ago wasn’t sifted.
I milled the spelt berries and pre-measured the salt, oil, and water to be efficient. This initial test batch was too salty, so the recipe amount below uses less salt than what you see in the bowl in the photo.
Though I wasn’t making these matzos for the holiday of Passover, I was excited by the challenge of making them in 18 minutes. I started my oven and baking sheet preheating at 475F, then I measured my ingredients and milled my flour. Finally, I set up a timer just before mixing the dough.
Tap or scroll your mouse over the photos below to see my timing. I ended up with time to spare: the matzos entered the oven at 13 minutes and came out at 17 minutes.
I mixed and kneaded the dough for about 2 minutes
It took me about 8 minutes to roll the dough very thin
Finally, for another 3-4 minutes, I poked fork holes on both sides of the dough and cut it in pieces
Whole Grain Spelt Matzos
Whole grain spelt flour makes a deliciously addictive matzo. This unleavened flatbread is part of the Passover tradition for Jewish people but can also be enjoyed by anyone all year round.
These instructions are to make a one batch of six matzos within 18 minutes. If you’re not observing Passover though, you can take your time, and you may want to double or triple the recipe all at once, rather than bake in multiple start-to-finish batches.
Place a large baking sheet or pizza stone in your oven one level up from the middle shelf. Preheat to 475°F — for about 20 minutes if you’re using an aluminum baking sheet, and for about 30 minutes if you’re using a stone. I used an aluminum sheet and found there was no need for parchment paper to prevent sticking.
Measure all the ingredients, and then mix them together in a bowl. (I used my hand from the get-go and segued into kneading with that messy hand.) If you want to make the matzo in less than 18 minutes, start the timer just before you add liquids to the flour.
Knead the dough on a clean surface for 2-3 minutes, and add more flour or water as needed to get a pliable and not-sticky consistency.
With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a very thin oval sheet about 1/16″ to 1/8″ thick (see the photo above). Use flour as needed to roll the sheet and shift it around.
With a fork or a pastry docker, poke holes on both sides of the sheet.
Cut the sheet into six pieces. If desired, trim the edges so you have rectangles. Then collect all the scraps, knead them into a ball, adding a few drops of water if needed to get the dough to come together. Then quickly roll out one more matzo (round) with this leftover dough and poke holes on both sides of it too.
Carefully pull your hot baking sheet from the oven, and transfer the matzos onto it.
Bake for 2 minutes, then flip over each matzo. Also turn your baking sheet around if one side is browning faster than the other.
Bake for another 2 minutes, keeping a close eye on the matzos during the last minute because if you happen to roll slightly thinner or thicker dough than I did, you may need a minute less or a minute more to get slight opacity of the matzos and a few brown spots.
Remove the matzos from the oven and cool them on a rack.
Once completely cooled, the matzos can be stored in an airtight container for several days or longer.