Pesach Part II: matzah baking

Finished productI’m not a lazy blogger – I’m abating the tendency of blogs to push media into hyper-speed. I’m giving time to allow events to be put in historical perspective. I am a pioneer. A hero.

Anyway, with the luxury of time and perspective, I now feel free to share my experience in matzah baking.

Matzah halacha sederThe yeshivah organized a group trip to bake handmade matzah together, at the bakery in the basement of the massive Belz synagogue. In order to go, you had to take time in the prior weeks learning (and being tested on) selected halachos (laws) of making matzah. The law in this area is very detailed, and is primarily designed to ensure that the matzah definitely contains no chametz. The precautions taken to prevent it from leavening include taking no more than 18 minutes from the time the flour is mixed with water until the matzah is finished; constantly working the dough (kneading it, rolling it, etc.) before baking; rolling it very thin; and cooking in an extremely-hot, wood-fired oven.

YYS with the woodI brought Yitzi along for the experience, and he was thrilled. I didn’t actually see much of him, though, at the bakery because I had the boring job of working the dough while waiting for the rollers to be ready to start on it. He spent most of his time by the oven, which also included getting to sample the matzos that were invalidated for use on Pesach for one reason or another.

It was a pretty tiring, intense experience actually. The dough would start coming out, and we’d work frantically, working it and cranking out matzos for 18 minutes, trying to keep up with the pace of dough coming to the table. At 18 minutes, we’d stop, and switch to the other tables that guys had been scrubbing clean during the previous shift. Notably, the important jobs (e.g., doing the final rolling and getting the matzos into and out of the oven) were done by ringers. It also wasn’t cheap, as we had to rent the bakery and hire the ringers. But I was able to make my seder with matzos I’d helped make. Pretty cool. Here are some more pics & video:

Before we started, we even cut our nails to make sure no dough would get stuck under there and make our matzos chometz.

Before we started, we even cut our nails to make sure no dough would get stuck under there and make our matzos chometz.

Ready, set... go!

Ready, set… go!

The assembly line.

The assembly line.

Scrubbing the tables clean between shifts.

Scrubbing the tables clean between shifts.

Cleaning the rollers while we work feverishly in the background.

Cleaning the rollers while we work feverishly in the background.

Into the oven.

Into the oven.

The final touches to the baked matzos.

The final touches to the baked matzos.

The crew kicks back after a job well done.

The crew kicks back after a job well done.

One thought on “Pesach Part II: matzah baking

  1. Dad

    The guy smoking the cigarette, the look on his face, he doesn’t look like he just finished baking matzah…

    Reply

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