To preserve tradition and keep things special, we turn to a local baker who is celebrating her fourth James Beard award nomination. Tova du Plessis from Essen Bakery in South Philadelphia is teaching us how to make matzah for Passover at home.
"This would be a really good activity home with your kids," says du Plessis. "If you're getting ready for Passover seder, this is a way they can be involved."
du Plessis is the pastry chef, owner of Essen, which she calls "a little Jewish bakery in South Philly."
She says making matzah at home is easy and quick.
"This is as simple as it gets," she explains. "Flour, water, a little salt for flavor, you roll it out super thin and bake it right away. It's just like the Jews, you don't have any time for that bread to rise."
du Plessis says you start with all-purpose or bread flour and add water. "Then add two tablespoons of olive oil, and one tablespoon of kosher salt."
You knead it until you form a ball of dough and then roll it out.
"You really want to go as thin as you can without it tearing," she explains. "I wouldn't worry about the funny shape that you're getting because I like for these to look homemade and rustic."
Then, poke holes to prevent large bubbles.
You can use a fork, she says, or anything that will poke holes.
Crank the oven to 500 degrees and then bake it on a tray or pizza stone for about 5 minutes.
To give it a kick, du Plessis says you can add dried herbs or "everything" seasoning.
"This will make our matzah way more flavorful," she says.
In the end, it should have a cracker-like consistency.
du Plessis says matzah symbolizes faith.
"I think we can all say that we look for faith right now, just that we are going to get through any hard times and come out of it together," she says.
2 cups bread or all purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
Preheat oven to 500 deg F. Place a sheet pan upside down, or a pizza stone, in the oven.
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand. Turn onto table and knead until just forms a dough. Don't over-knead or you will have trouble rolling the matzah.
Break off a 3 oz piece and shape into a loose ball. Flour the surface and roll the dough as thin as you can, spinning the piece of dough 90 degrees continually as you go. Dock with a fork. Flour again and place in the oven. Bake until browned and crispy. The matzah should bake within about 5 minutes.
Everything spice mix
Fine minced herbs
Minced sun-dried tomato