Matza Meal vs. Flour: To substitute, or not to substitute?

Thank you so much for the recipes. I read them thru and wanted to do a cooking/baking marathon so I could have them all on my table at once. Question: do you have a formula for making some of the desserts with regular flour, etc., so I might make them for non Passover events? –Andrea

Andrea, there’s no rule against eating matza when it’s not Passover! 

Recipes that tend to suffer in the translation are those that begin with raw flour and get adaped for Passover.  It can be done, but a purist won’t be as happy with the results (read about my niece’s lament in the post below about pandespanya)

There are plenty of Jewish recipes (including those you’ve got in the folio) that are made with matza meal to begin with.  Using raw flour instead in any of those would be awful.  Matza meal is nothing more than ground up matza, so you’re beginning with a product that’s already been cooked – toasted.  Matza may seem bland, but it’s got a distinct flavor and that affects the flavor of whatever it is you’re making.  Its being toasted also impacts texture, and you can choose to use either regular matza meal, which is coarse crumbs, or matza cake meal, which has a finer texture.  So, in this instance matza meal’s not a substitute but the preferred way to go. 

That said, depending upon where you live, you may not have ready access to the stuff.  I certainly don’t.  You should generally be able to order it from a health food store, which is what I do (in Spanish it’s called pan ácimo).  And if you absolutely don’t have access to matza in any form, you can substitute the same quantity of unflavored bread crumbs for matza meal.  It’s an acceptable alternative.


Filed under Recipes, Your Questions Answered

8 responses to “Matza Meal vs. Flour: To substitute, or not to substitute?

  1. Janet Amateau

    These distinctions are conclusions drawn from my own experience. My suggestion is not to read about this any further, but to experiment with both flour and matza meal. You’ll taste the difference, believe me.

    • Dear Janet, you are correct on your answer, baking is an alkimist science, an example that demonstrate the difficulty of substitutions in cooking is seen in rice, if one uses warm or hot water the result differs greatly than when one uses cold water. Anyway, since the theme is Matzot, we must note that there are also a couple or more of different kinds. The popular western kind, square crispy kind, the Schmurat kind and the soft Sephardit kind that I remember my Nonas used to bake for Pessah to make sure that we had a Kascher L’Pessah in the “true” Sefardi Home style. It was thicker than the Matza we eat today and as far as I remember it was also tastier. Chag Pessah Kascher Sameah l’Kulam!

  2. Yvonne

    I’m in South Africa, don’t know matzo meal. We only bake with cake flour, self raising flour, corn flour and baking powder. For a matzo meal recipe, would the alternative be bread crumbs?

    • Janet

      Yvonne, plain bread crumbs are a good substitute at any time of year except Passover, when it’s forbidden. During the holiday we don’t use baking powder, yeast, or flour, either. But matza meal is nothing more than ground up matza, so if you can buy that (you can!), you can make your own matza meal. If a recipe calls for matza cake meal, grind the matza or bread crumbs as fine as you can in a food processor.

  3. Yonos Schmaltzman

    Grinding or smashing up a particularly plain cracker like Carr’s Water Table Crackers can yield a satisfactory result as well

    • Janet

      I don’t recommend processed foods because so many of them contain ingredients that are very bad for your body. Carr’s contain palm oil, which contributes to several metabolic diseases, including insulin resistance and obesity. It may seem silly to fuss over a few crackers, but if you read the labels of everything you buy, you can see how many foods, even those that may seem innocuous, are loaded with processed sugars and vegetable fats. It adds up quickly, and does take a serious toll on your health.

  4. dani

    Hi. Im sorry i have not been following, however i am wondering if i take a normal cake and substitute flour with Matza meal do i use the same amount as normal flour?

    • Janet

      Dani – yes, but remember you need to use matza cake meal, not matza meal, which is coarse. Matza cake meal is ground much finer, to be closer in texture to flour.

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