Matzah and the Spanish Inquisition: Part 2

Beatriz Diaz Lainez and Juana de Fuente of Almazan (Spain, 1505):

made some cakes…of dough that had no leavening and they kneaded it with white wine and honey and clove and pepper, and they made about twenty of those and they kept them…in a storage chest.”

Matzah Recipes from Spain’s Secret Jews

Though most of the following matzah recipes would not be considered halachically kosher for Passover (click here for the way it should be prepared), we would encourage you to try them out before the festival.

Recreated from the historical records of the trials of conversos (Jews who converted to Christianity) accused of heresy during the time of the Spanish Inquisition, the act of making, baking and tasting will give you an historical and culinary flavour of this era of Jewish history – when the food choices we made reflected deep-seated attachment to Jewish rituals, history, belief and tradition. Instead of focusing on the complex and detailed Passover food restrictions, making matzah inspired by these accounts allows us to reflect on the way bread of affliction is powerfully symbolic of religious freedom.  You can read more about this in Matzah and the Spanish Inquisition Part 1.

All recipes and quotes are from A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson. Gitlitz and Davidson used the trial records (which include witness accounts – often those of neighbours – of the accused’s behaviour and practices) and a bit of experimentation to create workable recipes for modern cooks. We have incorporated our own comments about method and taste. pink matzah

Francisco Suarez’s Matzah (1500s)

Francisco Suarez was a toll taker in Almazan in the early 1500s. According to the Inquisition records, Suarez’s wife’s friends prepared flat bread i.e unleavened bread, and “they kneaded it with an egg, and put olive oil in the dough”.

We experimented with the cooking method of this egg-enriched dough dry frying half of the dough in a frying pan on the hob which produced a matzah similar to soft flat bread which had an authentic ancient feel to it.

  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 8 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten

Preheat oven to 400F/ 200C or Gas mark 6.

Place the flour in a small bowl.

Add the wet ingredients gradually and mix to form a very dry dough. You may not need all the water or you may need a bit more. Don’t overmix.

Form the dough into walnut-sized balls. Roll them flat and thin on a floured surface. Prick them several times with a fork.

Sofia prickingBake them on a non-stick baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing them to cool on a rack.

IMG_5910

Dry fried

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The baked matzah puffed up a bit in the oven

Beatriz de Diaz Lainez’s Matzah (1505)

Beatriz, wife of Ruy Diaz Lainez and Juana de Fuente of Almazan “made some cakes…of dough that had no leavening and they kneaded it with white wine and honey and clove and pepper, and they made about twenty of those and they kept them…in a storage chest.”

This produces a delicious subtly sweet and crispy matzah with a hint of pepper, filling the kitchen with the smell of cloves as it is baked.IMG_5911

  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 8 tablespoons white wine
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 400F/ 200C or Gas mark 6.

Mix the flour, pepper and cloves together in a small bowl.

Combine the honey, white wine and egg yolks. Add the mixture gradually to the flour and mix to form a very dry dough. Add the water slowly. You may not need all the water or you may need a bit more. Don’t overmix.

Form the dough into walnut-size balls. Roll them flat and thin on a floured surface. Prick them several times with a fork.

Bake them on a non-stick baking sheet for 10 minutes. Remove immediately and cool on a cake rack.

IMG_5900

Angelina de Leon’s Matzah (1500s)

Angelina, the wife of Christoual de Leon of Almazan (Soria) “made the dough of flour and eggs, and formed some round, flat cakes with pepper and honey and oil. She cooked them in an oven and she did this around Holy Week”.

We made this with the suggested (non-authentic) matzah meal so that it’s one that could be made during Passover. It produced a slightly sweet and pepperish cake-like matzah.

  • 2 cups flour, sifted or matzah cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
  • 8-12 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 400F/ 200C or Gas mark 6.

Mix the flour and pepper together in a small bowl.

IMG_5896

Angelina de Leon’s Matzah made with matzah meal

Add the wet ingredients gradually and mix to form a very dry dough. You may not need all the water or you may need a bit more. Don’t overmix.

Form the dough into walnut-size balls. Roll them flat and thin on a floured surface. Prick them several times with a fork.

Bake them on a non-stick baking sheet for 10 minutes. Remove immediately and cool on a cake rack.

 Coimbra Chestnut Matzah (late 16th century)

IMG_5895

Coimbra Chestnut Matzah

When material for traditional matzah could not be obtained, crypto-Jews would substitute local foods that did not contain leaven. This recipe is inspired by the practices of such Jews in late 16th century Portugal who sometimes substituted cooked chestnuts for matzah. A very different type of matzah, this worked well spread thinner and flipped in the middle of cooking. Be generous with the cinnamon.

  • 1 jar cooked chestnuts (about 14.8oz/420g)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey or sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F/ 230 C or Gas mark 8.

With a large spoon or fork, mash the chestnuts until they are in small pieces.

In a food processor, place one third of the chestnuts, one egg and 1 tablespoon of oil. Process until they become a thick paste. Add one third more of the chestnuts, another egg, and 1 tablespoon of oil. Continue to process. Repeat until the remaining chestnuts, egg and oil are used up and the mixture is a well-combined paste.

Add the honey, cinnamon and pepper. Process until they are mixed in.

Generously grease a baking tray or cover a baking tray with foil. Place 2 tablespoons of the mixture onto the tray and press with a spatula until about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Leave about 1 inch around each matzah.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until brown (you can turn half way through for a crisper matzah). Remove immediately and cool on a cake tray.

 

IMG_5915

Spot the Rakusen’s matzah

Liz Ison

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2 thoughts on “Matzah and the Spanish Inquisition: Part 2

  1. Pingback: Matzah and the Spanish Inquisition: Part 1 | Wimshul Cooks

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