Wine and anise matza
Wine and anise matza Photo by Vered Guttman
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I wrote here last week about the communal kosher oven of Pitigliano, a mediaeval town in Tuscany known as Little Jerusalem.

I interviewed Elena Servi, a Jewish woman who has been living in town since before World War II. At the time, Pitigliano’s Jewish community had more than 70 members, and the local communal institutions were still active.

 There are only four Jews living in town these days, and the old wine cellar, the communal kosher oven and the mikvah are all part of the Jewish museum of Pitigliano.

But Elena remembers how once a year, just before Passover, Jewish families used to clean, prepare for the holiday and bake matza and special Passover cookies in that communal oven. She mentioned a special wine and anise seed matza that sounded really good. I thought I’d try to make some at home.

But will it be kosher for Passover?

In short, no. It won’t. Although you can prepare the recipe from start to end within less than the 18 minutes period allowed to make sure the dough doesn’t start the leavening process, you will most probably not be able to find  kosher for Passover flour that’s needed for a real kosher-for-Passover matza.

The kosher supervision for this flour starts before its milling, and although some recipes ask for this type of flour, I’ve yet to find it anywhere. Your kitchen will have to be prepared for Passover already, including the surfaces you intend to use and all the tools.

“I have never allowed anyone to bake their own matza. It is not kosher.” said Rabbi Zev Schechter, director of the Metropolitan Rabbinical Kashrut Association in Washington, or Metro-K. Alright, this was clear enough.

Still you can have fun making your own matza at home, and this special one, with white wine, olive oil and anise seeds is worth the effort.

And how do you make it so fast, 18 minutes only, when you want to prepare at least a dozen? It’s nearly impossible to make the whole batch in 18 minutes all by yourself. Luckily, my kids were on their spring break, just in time to join the production line.