"And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought
forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust
out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for
themselves any victual" (Exodus 12:39)
The only bread permitted for consumption on Passover is matzah - the "poor man's loaf" or "bread of affliction" - made of unfermented dough.
From the reaping of the wheat to the kneading of the dough, all the flour used to bake matzot must be safeguarded from any contact with water. At the kneading stage it is mixed with water that has "rested" in a vessel overnight to cool down. The maximum time allowed for the production of matzah is eighteen minutes. This entire operation - rolling out the dough, perforating holes in it, and transferring the thin sheets to a wood-fired oven - must be performed at top speed to ensure that the dough will not ferment. Most people now avail themselves of square, factory-made matzot that are produced and baked at a carefully regulated speed. Nevertheless, many observant Jews prefer to have round "matzah shemurah" on their seder table. Handmade by skilled men working as a team, these matzot are produced in special bakeries shortly before the festival.
Kneading matzah dough
Dushinsky Bakery, Jerusalem, 200 4
Photo: Menahem Kahana