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This is a follow-up question to 18 minute matzah cutoff (and see also Where does the notion that the *entire* matza process must be done in under 18 minutes come from?)
I know this isn't the standard method of making matzah these days. But now I'm asking a practical question: Is there anything wrong with making matzah in home in your regular oven? Here's one description of what I've tried, how it would look:

  1. First run my oven on self-cleaning cycle, which seems to be acceptable to prepare it for (regular) Pesach use, according to the Star-K and perhaps others.
  2. My oven goes up to 550 F (288 C). (Igros Moshe (OH 153) says that the cooking surface needs to be ליבון קל, which is < 500 F which burns paper, and that the cooking device should surround the matzah, not just be on the bottom. The oven seems to meet those requirements.)
  3. Take out the bottom grate inside to make room. Preheat it to that temperature. Put a wide (18") piece of tinfoil on the bottom of the oven so that it is hot already when the matzah goes in.
  4. Take shemurah matzah flour and מים שלנו. (Of course, when I'm practicing it's with (probably chametz) flour off the shelf and water from the sink.)
  5. Knead one single cup of flour and around 5 tbsp water, quick as I can, roll it out with a clean rolling pin.
  6. Use a fork to make holes in the matzah (there are better faster tools available).
  7. Put it on another piece of tinfoil to help carry it, and put that on top of the hot tinfoil in the oven. (The poskim discuss baking matzah on paper which will burn up, and say that the paper not being hot won't matter, it's too thin and too quick. I assume the same is true of tinfoil.) It is now doubly separated from the oven floor in case something goes wrong. [Addendum - they allow paper b'dieved for that reason, but don't seem to allow it lechatchilah.]
  8. At this point around 10 minutes have passed, since I'm not so competent.
  9. It now takes around 10 minutes to bake. See the linked discussion above that that time should not matter.
  10. Pull the matzah out using the tinfoil.
  11. Clean everything thoroughly. Add new tinfoil in oven if you want to make another matzah.

Is this lechatchilah, b'dieved, or no good at all?

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    I'll note that I already asked R' Moshe Heinemann shlit"a, and he said it's only b'dieved, "the oven is not hot enough, takes too long". But (as I said in the earlier linked post) I don't really understand what he is saying.
    – MichoelR
    Oct 20, 2023 at 12:29
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    This is basically what Jews did for centuries.
    – Double AA
    Oct 20, 2023 at 12:48
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    You can probably reduce your bake time using a pizza stone, turning on the broiler, and rolling thinner. A "pizza oven" is really the expected kind of tool for this.
    – Double AA
    Oct 20, 2023 at 12:49
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    Note: customarily you should avoid windows and sunlight he.wikisource.org/wiki/…
    – Double AA
    Oct 20, 2023 at 12:51
  • MichoelR Can you ask him how long he would say is lechatchila and see if you can lower your time to there? Without knowing his specifications it's hard to know what to aim for
    – Double AA
    Oct 20, 2023 at 13:09

1 Answer 1

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#NotARabbi, but there is nothing wrong with baking at home. Jews did that for centuries. Kudos for thinking this through a bit. A few tips from many years of baking at home:

  1. I suggest buying firebrick from a masonry supply store and after kashering the oven, line the bottom of the oven with them. These will hold heat much better than the thin metal on the bottom of an oven
  2. I'd practice at least once with shmurah flour. It behaves very differently than supermarket flour.
  3. Weigh your ingredients. Crispy matzah typically has very low hydration (last year's flour required 46% -- meaning that 100g of flour only needed 46g of water).
  4. Parchment paper is your friend. Roll out on parchment paper and/or between pieces of parchment paper. It will help reduce sticking to the rollers and rolling surface.
  5. A fork works great.
  6. For transfer to the oven, buy a thin wooden dowel from a hardware store. Drape the matzah on the dowel and "unroll" it onto the firebrick.
  7. Suggest using disposable for nearly everything (bowls, plastic table surfaces, forks, etc.). Except for the rolling pins (and dowels). These worked well: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082WF6MG2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Be sure to sand, rinse, and dry thoroughly.
  8. Matzot will bake in much fewer than 10 mins (4-5 min in a home oven IIRC)
  9. Review all halachot ahead of time. Little things like "don't bake near windows/sunlight" and "prepare dough in a different room than the oven" and things like that.
  10. Make a "pre-flight" checklist. It's easy to forget a critical step, and a checklist prepared ahead of time is helpful for making sure you're not missing a step.
  11. Involve a friend or two. It's a lot of work, and it can be easier with helpers.
  12. Involve children in halachically permissible ways. Under bar/bat mitzvah are more limited in what they can do, but it is an amazing experience for them.
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  • Thank you. I was hoping to avoid the "thin wooden dowel", which seems to me to be a recipe for disaster (discussed in the poskim, folds and stuff). My tin foil was way simpler.
    – MichoelR
    Oct 20, 2023 at 13:32
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    It's actually pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it (thicker dowels are easier to manage than super thin), much easier than sliding in flat in my experience. You can even use a roller, but then you get one shot per roller (once it's in the oven, it can't be used for rolling again until cooled).
    – Eli Lansey
    Oct 20, 2023 at 13:34
  • Did you use a broiler like DoubleAA suggested, or bake from the bottom?
    – MichoelR
    Oct 20, 2023 at 13:40
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    Bake from the bottom. The top of the matzah tends to be paler than from industrial bakeries.
    – Eli Lansey
    Oct 20, 2023 at 13:41

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