Matzo is a type of flatbread which is made in Jewish communities all
over the world. This bread is traditionally eaten during Passover, when
people of the Jewish faith are not allowed to eat leavened breads, and
it also appears in recipes used throughout the year. In addition to
matzo itself, there are a number of foods made with matzo, from matzo
balls used in soup to noodle kugel which uses matzo as a binder.
very simple bread has an important symbolic role in Jewish culture. The
bland flavor and simple ingredients remind people to stay humble, and
echo the culinary state of affairs during periods of enslavement and
hard times. Unleavened bread is also a specific reminder of the Jewish
flight from Egypt, when it is said that people did not have time to
allow their bread to rise before baking.
Many markets carry some form of matzo, especially if they are in
areas with a reasonably large Jewish community. Here, from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Manischewitz-Passover-Matzos-Box/dp/B0070YAAPO
This bread can also be
made at home or purchased from Jewish bakeries. For observant Jews,
special care is taken when selecting matzo during Passover to ensure
that it fulfills the required dietary restrictions.
Traditional matzo is made with just flour and water. Oats, wheat,
barley, rye, and spelt are all acceptable sources of flour for matzo.
Some cooks also add salt, although others frown on this, and other
ingredients like onions may be added, but they make bread unusable for
Passover. The dough is mixed quickly before being rolled out, pricked
with a fork, and baked. The end result is quite bland, but many people
acquire a taste for it.
There are two basic types of matzo. Hard matzo, as one might
imagine, is hard, like a cracker, while soft matzo is more flexible.
To make basic matzo, mix three and one quarter cups of flour with
one cup of water to form a stiff dough. Break the dough up into balls
and roll them out. You can make round pieces of matzo, or you can roll
out a large square sheet and cut it up into crackers; poke the matzo
with a fork and bake it at 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius)
until it browns. You may want to store the matzo in an airtight
container to prevent it from going stale. You can also grind your matzo
to make matzo meal, an common component in traditional Jewish recipes.