Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mission: Possible - Gluten-Free (Mock) Matzo

In Jewish law, only five grains are suitable for making matzo: wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats. The only one of these grains that can be digested by celiacs and gluten intolerant people is oats, and there are quite a few celiacs who cannot digest oats at all. Even those who can can are only able to eat oats if they were produced in such a way that they were not cross-contaminated with wheat.

To make matzo matters more complicated for gluten-free folks, matzah shmura must also be properly supervised during the manufacturing process. Gluten-free shmura matzo, which some rabbis accept as fulfilling the mitzvah of eating matzo at Passover, is available online from Rabbi Kestenbaum's Shemura Oat Matzos. The website lists local vendors in the United States, or you can order them before March 11 from (which also sells gluten-free matzo meal from the same company).

There is another option for people who are not as stringent about halacha, or who are looking for a gluten-free matzo replacement for Pesach for a purpose other than saying the matzo blessing... Homemade gluten-free mock matzo!

I combined recipes from Living Without Magazine and and was surprised to find that my "matzot" were not only edible - They actually had a pretty nice flavor. I can definitely see myself snacking on these, especially with haroset and maror. While not a deadringer for matzo, they do have a good, crisp texture. They are made of kosher for Passover ingredients, and you can press them out to be just as thin as a mass-produced matzo.

You can use pre-ground almond meal as I did, but one recipe I saw recommended using coarser-ground almond meal made at home of unblanched almonds because they found the larger chunks of almond made a good texture.


1/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup almond meal
1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
2 Tbsp shortening or solid coconut oil
3 Tbsp warm water
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450 F. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix shortening or coconut oil into the dry ingredients using your hands. Add water just a little bit at a time until the dough makes a ball and isn't too sticky. Knead well, making sure there are no big chunks of shortening. If the dough is sticky, add additional potato starch. Take walnut size pieces and press with your fingers onto the foil-covered baking sheet until flat and thin. Smooth out edges, if desired, and use a fork to prick rows of holes. Cook for 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don't get overdone. You should underbake them slightly, rather than overbaking. Remove from oven as soon as the edges become slightly brown - The top should still be white.


I Am Gluten Free said...

Yup, I am trying these. I've been planning on trying my hand at home-made matzo, and now I have no excuse. You've made it easy for me! Thank you! Hey, what exactly did you use for the shortening?

ByTheBay said...

Let me know what you think!

I am trying to decide if they're dry and flavorless enough to be the Bread of Oppression. I think they might taste a wee bit too good! Haha.

They definitely aren't matzo, though. *sigh* I would never try making matzo brei with them, for instance. Bah.

I used Spectrum Coconut Oil, which is a jar of solidified pure coconut oil. Didn't have shortening on hand. I believe you can use oil, but I think solid fats will make a better texture.

~M said...

Could you sub butter if you didn't mind them being milchig (kosher-dairy)?

ByTheBay said...

M - I believe both margarine and butter would work, as well as olive oil, but would give a very different texture. Can't tell you how they'd turn out. I plan to try another recipe for matzo and use just oil, so check back in a few days to see how that turned out.

Sea said...

How cool is this mission possible?!!!

AmAAAAZingly cool, that's how cool.

For a ridiculously badly educated girl like me- what is haroset or maror? And matzo is generally for snacking? Oh dear, I am so ashamed, and me a religious studies grad student too...


visit my gluten free blog

ByTheBay said...



In my family (and most Ashkenazi Jewish families) haroset is chopped up apples, walnuts, cinnamon and wine. Maror is horseradish.

Is matzo for snacking? Well, yes and no. We are obligated to eat matzo and say a specific blessing over it. But beyond that, it is the only bread we are allowed to eat during the entire week. So it does end up getting made into sandwiches and snacked on.

Why did I think you were Jewish?

Gili Warsett said...

though it wouldn't go well with matzo, i just read an article that listed three new york bars with gluten-free beer. i thought you'd be excited to know that you can drink without worrying at heathers, rhythm and booze, and hook and ladder pub.

ByTheBay said...

Gili! That is fabulous news. Although did you know there is a beer that DOES go well with GF matzo? It's called Ramapo Valley Honey Passover Beer and it's made in (Rockland County?) New York and is GF and Kosher L'Pesach. Crazy, huh?

Anyways, thanks for that info - That is ridiculously exciting and you know it's just one more thing to lure me to NYC as soon as I get to the east coast.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This will be my first Passover gluten- free, and I did NOT know what I was going to do about matzo. Thank you, thank you! And thank you!

Sea said...

Ahhhh, well, you probably thought that because I belong to the allergicjews yahoo group... I joined because I was interested in Jewish food and traditions and wanted to learn more about it...

My mom actually had a great recipe for haroset because she was a personal chef for a Jewish family- I'd just forgotten the name. Thank you for the links!

Gili said...

excellent!! we can have gluten free beer night! sounds fun.

Anonymous said...

Heard you were moving to NY. You'll have to look us up if your ever in NYC!

Mrs. G.F. said...

By the way..thank you so much for showing me your version of the lemon came out great, and saved me the effort of figuring out how I wanted to make it.

ByTheBay said...

You are so very welcome - I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Looking through the photos of food on your blog just now, this one appeals to me - odd, since it isn't colourful, looks plain ... but somehow I feel like eating some! Now I'm hungry and everything else looks good too. Have to try this one out.

kbabe1968 said...

Will you be posting a recipe for Haroset?

I am not Jewish, and none of my family is, but my MIL is in love with Jewish cooking and loves the traditions - she used to hold a Passover meal each year and I alwas would down the Haroset on Matzo!

Please share if you have a good recipe, I would LOVE to make it and have it around! said...

Wheatfree: I don't know what it is about simple and plain-looking recipes that sometimes seems so appealing. Especially if they involve veggies or fruit!

Kbabe1968: I probably won't be posting a charoset recipe, since I've yet to see a charoset recipe that wasn't already gluten-free and most families have their own family favorite recipe. I did post this "Tropical" charoset recipe, however. Here is a fairly standard Ashkenazi haroset recipe, though I don't put honey in mine:

Anonymous said...

I made them this morning for Passover, and doubled the recipe so there would be more than a few. Thanks for posting this!!!

A few suggestions. First, I used coconut oil since I had it on hand, and I think the amount could be reduced slightly (tastes too coconutty - I'd use shortening next time - and seemed like it could be a tiny bit less oily). Second, I couldn't use nearly as much water as the recipe suggested, because it got too watery.

In any case, I'll really enjoy eating these tonight, instead of gluten-free crackers for my Hillel sandwich!

Anonymous said...

I just made these and they turned out fantastic! i couldn't find almond meal and didn't feel like pulling out the food processor so i bought hazelnut meal. i am sure it yielded a different flavor than the almonds would, but they taste great! i also tripled the recipe as i am making for a crowd and it tripled beautifully. I used shortening in place of coconut oil.
this is a great, simple recipe and i highly recommend it!

Anonymous said...

So, excited to try your recipe. Is there anything that could be used in place of potato starch? Not a big fan of potato. I'm just beginning to learn how different ingredients work together.

Thanks for your thoughts!

ByTheBay said...

Anonymous: You know, I can't really think of anything besides potato starch that would give it the right consistency. I don't eat white potatoes much normally, but I wouldn't make this recipe with anything else. You can certainly try tapioca flour or sticky rice (sweet rice) flour or something like that, but then they won't be kosher for Passover (if that matters).

ByTheBay said...

(To clarify, tapioca flour *can* be kosher for passover... but I don't know of any brand available on the retail market that is)

♥;QIULI! said...

Can i know what can replace matzo meal?
Or does anybody know where i can buy it ? & how much is it? If you do , please mail me .
I'll be thankful!

ByTheBay said...

Only one company makes GF matzo meal that I know of. You can find them at but you have to order through a local distributor. ships their products, but they are only sold close to Passover so you'd have to wait until March to order, probably. I think it's about $9 for a box of matzo meal if I remember right. It works pretty well. But it's possible to make most recipes without matzo meal. At Passover you can buy boxes of non-gebrokts (gluten-free) "matzo ball" mixes that are made of potato instead of matzo. And potato starch or almond meal can be substituted in many recipes.

BigAl said...

I made this last year and my notes say that I substituted 1 egg for the water and used it for matzo meal to make rolls. Both the matzo and the rolls came out great. My 6yr old loved them. I also started with 1T. of shortening instead of 2. I found that if I rolled it out to about 1/4" the matzoh didn't fall apart as easily also.

Alison said...

I see this thread is two years old already, so I don't know if you are still watching comments.

I am usually good at the gf recipes, but I'm having real trouble with this one.

Batch #1 burned to a crisp in 9 minutes. :(

Batch #2 came out of the oven after 5 minutes, and looked fine, but was a dry crumbly mess.

Batch #3 is in the oven at 375 instead of 450--maybe that will help?

I wasn't able to use much water, as previous poster pointed out, even 1 tablespoon of water made it enormously sticky.

How many matzo pieces is this recipe supposed to make, and how big are you making them?

Perhaps I pressed mine out too thin? I was trying to get them as thin as possible. I used Crisco shortening.


Alison said...

Oh, dear. Batch #3 was a crumbly mess, too.

Batch #4 is now in the oven. I used an egg instead of water, added 1/4 cup of potato flakes (it seemed awfully sticky, even for gluten-free), and sprayed the top with Pam.

Wish me luck, because I'm giving up after this one! (I had ordered the gf oat matzoh through the local Kosher store, but apparently, they never got it in. :( )

The crumbs from batches 1-3 will be used for "matzo meal" pancakes, so it's not such a big loss...

ByTheBay said...

Thanks for your comments. Honestly, I have made this recipe a total of one time. After the time I made this I chose to stick to gluten-free oat matzo since I could actually say a bracha (blessing) on it due to it being from one of the five species of plant that matzo can be made of and still considered matzo according to Jewish law. Almost the feedback I've gotten to this recipe has been positive so I'm guessing there's either a difference in the ingredients you're using or in your oven's temp compared to mine (and/or elevation). The house I was living in when I made this recipe had an oven that had calibration issues, so some of my recipes have needed to be adjusted for temperature. But I haven't heard of this recipe being excessively crumbly and I know mine certainly weren't. I'm so bummed your attempts turned out so badly, that is so crappy. I hope you managed to have a fabulous Pesach nonetheless!

Alison said...

Well, batch #4 wasn't bad at all. It didn't taste quite like matzo, but it was Hillel-sandwichable!

The Haggadah we use has an interesting story next to the blessing for matzo:

"A Prayer For Eating Chametz"

During Passover in 1944, there was no matzah at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but the rabbis would not allow the inmates to endanger their lives by fasting. They decreed that chametz could be eaten, provided the following prayer be recited before meals:

Our Father in Heaven, behold it is evident and known to thee that it is our desire to do Thy will and to celebrate the festival of Passover by eating matzah and by observing the prohibition of leavened food. But our heart is pained that the enslavement prevents us and we are in danger of our lives. Behold, we are prepared and ready to fulfill Thy commandment: "And ye shall live by [my commandments] and not die by them."

We pray to Thee that Thou mayest keep us alive and preserve us and redeem us speedily so that we may observe Thy statutes and do Thy will and serve Thee with a perfect heart. Amen"

(A copy of the original handwritten prayer is at the Ghetto Fighter's House in Israel.)

Now, obviously our lives are not exactly in danger here, so I'm not suggesting that we eat chametz during Pesach. I just thought it was interesting. And I do wonder if eventually, Jewish law might someday be modified to accomdate those who can't. especially as the oat matzo is so prohibitively expensive.

I did pre-order the oat matzo (one box was all we could afford) from the local Kosher store, but they said that they never got it in. :(

By the way, how many matzos did you come up with from one recipe, and how large were they? Did I make mine too thin?

Linda Cohen said...

Thank you so much for your amazing blog! I just made a batch of the "mock matzahs" and they are delicious. I am so excited to give these to my son tomorrow night, might have to whip up another batch to snack on. Your recipes are helpful. Thank you thank you! Happy Passover to you and your family!

PS I am originally a native of the Boston area now living on the west coast.

Anonymous said...

these are delicious. just made a batch for my seder tonight. thanks

Sabra in North Carolina said...

Just tried these today. They are easy to put together, and the dough seems very forgiving. I think 450 degrees may be a bit hot for the oven, as the matzohs went from brown at the edges to fully brown in a matter of seconds.
They look like real, hand made matzohs, and everyone at the Seder wanted to try them (and liked them).
Of course, they don't taste bit like the real thing, but they are very tasty.
Be aware that this recipe makes about five pieces using the "walnut size" guideline. This is probably a good thing, since you want to make small, fast batches to be Kosher for Passover.