Baking Matzah Photo Essay
Get an inside look at a Jerusalem matzah bakery with these amazing photos.
The Matzah baking factory is empty and ready for the bakers to begin producing Matzah made special for Passover. The entire process from when the water hits the flour until the dough enters the oven must be completed within 18 minutes, and timers on the wall help make sure that no process goes over time.
Since the 18 minutes begin when water and flour meet, the water that is used in for the Matzah dough is kept in a small cubicle that is kept free of any flour. While waiting for the call to begin each 18 minute cycle, one of the workers in the factory recites Psalms from a small prayer book.
The flour is also kept in a separate room. When the baking is ready to start, a window opens and the flour is dumped into a mixing bowl. The window is then promptly closed before the water is brought out to ensure the water doesn’t get into the flour room.
Once the flour is in the mixing bowl, water is added and the mixing begins.
As soon as water and flour meet, someone mixes the dough by hand.
When the dough is ready, it is passed off to a team of people who are standing by to knead the dough at a special kneading table. Everything is done by hand, quickly and with concentration.
A few minutes of smashing and folding produces a dough that goes to the rolling tables.
The dough is then cut into small discs that are first pressed by hand, then passed down the line where metal rollers are used to flatten the dough.
The disc goes through multiple rollers to spread it out and turn it into the classic round Shmura (guarded) Matzah shape.
Now that the dough is nice and thin, holes are then added to the dough. The small holes that cover the Matzah allow it to bake evenly, ensuring there are no parts of the Matzah that have pockets of raw dough (plus it makes it taste great too!).
After the dough is perforated, it is carefully placed over a long pole to be transported to the oven.
The Matzah dough is then transferred into an oven specially built for baking Matzah for Passover.
Then the dough is laid down flat to cook.
A row of Matzah dough is added on one side of the oven, while another row is nearly ready to be removed.
The Matzah bakes quickly and is pulled out of the oven as soon as it is ready. The steaming hot Matzah is placed on a wireframe table where crumbs can fall to the floor out of the way of the Matzah “checker.”
The Matzah is checked carefully to ensure that there are no folds or pockets. A fold in Matzah could contain dough that is not fully baked, and if left in place, could render the Matzah not Kosher for Passover.
Any folds or pockets that are found are broken off and discarded.
The Matzah is then transferred onto rolling carts to allow for cooling.
Once the Matzah has cooled, it is weighed and packed into boxes. Each box is then labeled according to quality, weight, and destination.
Everyone have a Happy Passover!