SHMURA MATZOH, Williamsburg

by Kevin Walsh

I am taking a look at some of my old stuff from previous years and I found the batch taken on January 1, 2014 when I walked Flushing Avenue past the Navy Yard into Williamsburg in Brooklyn, where on Broadway I found this hand lettered sign for shmura matzoh. It’s not just any matzoh, according to The Forward:

Shmura matzo is a special kind of matzo that meets a higher standard of kosher for Passover rules. The flour used in shmura matzo is supervised from the field to the factory to ensure that it does not come in contact with water that could begin the leavening process. Grains that have come in contact with water and may have become leavened, called hametz, are not allowed to be eaten on Passover. Shmura matzo is usually handmade in a round shape, although there are also some machine-made square shmura matzos available. Shmura matzo costs more than regular machine-made matzo. Some people partake in the custom of eating only shmura matzo throughout the holiday, while some partake in the custom of using only shmura matzo for the Seders.

I have plenty of new photos to choose from over the past few months but I may be looking into the archives because after a few years away, you see things with new eyes and I find interest in images I cast aside for whatever reason.

I estimate that since 1998 I have taken 700,000 pictures for Forgotten New York.

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



Andy March 19, 2022 - 9:18 am

Thanks for posting this interesting story. I am, of course, familiar with Passover dietary rules although I can’t say I follow them rigorously. For example, I will eat machine-made Passover matzo, but not Shmura.

Keep in mind that the “no leavening” restriction goes far beyond breads and cakes. All grain-based foods, and certain vegetables, that are OK the remaining 51 weeks of the year are prohibited during Passover – pasta, noodles, corn, legumes, grain-based alcohol (whiskey, beer, gin, vodka), and rice. Wine and brandy are OK. Rice is sometimes a sticking point (pun intended) because Sephardic (Mediterranean and Middle Eastern) Jews do eat rice during Passover, but Ashkenazic (East and North European) Jews do not. The side dish starch is always potatoes, which thankfully I like. Vegetables and fruits aside from legumes are OK. I can live without ordinary bread for a week, but I miss my nightly beer with my dinner. For Passover week, it’s wine, water, or seltzer.

Passover cakes are typically flat because they lack leavening, since they are baked using plain matzo meal. The best Passover cake, to my mind, is a flourless chocolate cake my wife has perfected, using eggs as a key ingredient.

Tiger March 22, 2022 - 12:22 pm

Please have Andy give us his wife’s Passover cake recipe.

Andy March 23, 2022 - 6:26 pm

Here’s the recipe. It’s the recipe my wife uses – it’s not her original, but she does it well. The espresso powder is optional. It’s from King Arthur Baking. Can be used year-round, not just for Passover.
Prep 15 mins Bake 23 to 27 mins
• 1 cup (170g) semisweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate chips
• 8 tablespoons (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 3/4 cup (149g) granulated sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
• 3 large eggs
• 1/2 cup (43g) Dutch-process cocoa
• 1 cup (170g) semisweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup (113g) heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a metal 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan.
2. To make the cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.
3. Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.
4. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
6. Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.
7. Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
8. Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.
9. To make the glaze: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until it’s not quite at a simmer, but showing fine bubbles around the edge. Pour the cream over the chocolate, stir very briefly to combine, and let rest for 5 minutes. Stir again — at first slowly, then more vigorously — until the chocolate is completely melted and the glaze is smooth. If any bits of chocolate remain, reheat briefly in the microwave or over a burner, then stir until smooth.
10. Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.

Alan March 23, 2022 - 8:01 am

The top row of the sign (white letters/black background) simply says “Matzoh Bakery.” Bakery is spelled out in Yiddish letters, a simple transliteration, and pronounced “bekery” (both e’s are pronounced as short e’s as in “bed”). It’s fun to read the signs in old photos of the Lower East Side, where there are lots of transliterations.


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