Baking Bulkies, My Grandma’s Signature Passover Recipe, Is My New Holiday Ritual

These matzah meal puffs are delicious, but more importantly, they keep my grandma's memory alive.

When I opened the oven door the smell of the baked Matzah Meal Puffs, or “Bulkies” as my family called them, wafted over to me and wrapped its warmth around me like a blanket. I smiled, knowing how hard it was to replicate my grandmother’s famous recipe. The matzah meal puffs are like muffins made with matzah meal, and there is always a chance the puffs won’t rise — but this time, they did.

“Grandpa! Come look,” I said, calling him over and setting the hot tray on the counter.

He rushed towards the freshly baked goods from where he was standing on the other side of the kitchen and once he got a good look at them, he smiled, too. A feeling of pride washed over me. When I looked into his eyes though, I could tell what he was thinking, because in the back of my mind, I was thinking the same.

We missed her. His wife. My grandmother. It was the first Passover without her and we felt more lonely than ever. She was the glue that kept our whole family together; without her, it felt like no one was there to pull everyone back together again. I looked away, trying to shake off the melancholy feeling. It had been almost six months since her passing, and it still felt like just yesterday she was sitting on her porch with one of her small dogs sitting in her lap admiring the outside world. She passed close to Hanukkah the year before. Stupid cancer. At least baking one of her signature recipes would make her feel closer to us all tonight.

Suddenly I felt immense pressure on my shoulders and the pride that was once there washed away as fast as it came. Everyone always loved eating her bulkies. What if the ones my grandfather and I made didn’t live up to the ones she made?

When my grandpa went outside, I snuck one off the tray and tried it myself. Despite my worries, our version tasted almost identical to the original, and it felt like my grandmother was there with me, wrapping her comforting arms around my shoulders like she used to when I was little. It was almost as if she was in the kitchen herself, blessing the matzah puffs with her own hands.

Memories started coming back to me that I had tried repressing for months. Her laugh, her smile, the last words she said to me on the phone the night before she died. Everyone copes with losing someone in different ways. Often I find myself trying to avoid memories I have of her while missing her presence… but with the bulkie in my hand, the taste of it — exactly like the ones she always made — still lingering on my tongue, there was no way to hide from the things I remembered. And in that moment, even though it still hurt, I didn’t want to dodge my memories… I wanted to call them in.

My grandma was the kind of person who would always comfort someone else, even if she was in pain. A week before she died, I broke down crying at school, having a feeling that she was going to pass away soon. I felt angry and confused. How could she leave me? She would never get to see me graduate, never get to see me get into college, never get to see me one day get married. She always used to talk about how excited she was for me to find a love like the one she shared with my grandpa. It had always felt slightly annoying, but now, thinking that she may not get to see it happen, it seemed sweet. I thought of all the so-called “important moments in my life” that she wouldn’t be there for, and my throat tightened.

The last time I saw her, two days before she died, we were sitting together on her couch and she told me she found out about me crying at school. Despite how much pain and exhaustion she felt that day, and the fact that I should’ve been the one to comfort her, she took my hand and said gently, “You know I would stop this if I could honey. It will be okay.”

“How do you know?”

“I just do,” she replied. She kissed my forehead. “I just do…”

When I heard my grandpa’s footsteps coming back from outside, I snapped out of my trance and wiped some tears away I wasn’t even aware were falling. I finished the bulkie before my grandpa could notice and he joined me back in the kitchen.

Although talking about my grandma was still a somewhat sensitive subject, on that day, we couldn’t help ourselves; we reminisced about her throughout the afternoon and evening. We remembered her through one of her most famous recipes, and for the first time in a long while, things started to feel almost normal again, as if baking the bulkies brought her back to life.

My grandma may not be here anymore, but her memory lives on.

Matzah Meal Puffs, or Bulkies

Ingredients: 3 cups of water 1 cup of oil 8 eggs 3 cups of matzah meal Instructions: 1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. 2. In a pan, boil 3 cups of water and 1 cup of oil. 3. While the above is boiling, in a separate bowl blend 8 eggs with either a hand mixer or KitchenAid. If you don't have either of those tools, a whisk or a fork will do. 4. Once the water and oil have started boiling, take the pan off the heat and mix in 3 cups of matzah meal until all the matzah meal is well mixed in with the freshly boiled water and oil. 5. Once it is well-mixed transfer it to a bigger bowl and mix in the 8 blended eggs. 6. Transfer the puff batter into a well-oiled muffin pan. You can use cupcake holders instead of oiling the pan if you'd prefer. 7. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, and then with the matzah meal puffs still inside the oven, lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Matzah-l Tov! You’re done! You can enjoy the bulkies plain or with honey, butter or jam!
Recipe contributed by Rowanne Reifman; Design by Avital Dayanim

Rowanne Reifman

Rowanne Reifman (she/her) is a mixed Jewish/Filipina girl from San Diego. She likes hanging out with her friends and going to art museums. She is a 2023-2024 Hey Alma College Writing Fellow.

Read More