Kneading Maltese Heritage One Loaf at a Time
Start writing a post

No mention of cultural cuisines is complete without reference to their local breads – it truly is a footprint of the food sources available to the society at the time of their beginning. This gives an idea of how life was lived for generations, with what types of grains and flours they had to work with, how much time they had, and what they ate with the bread.

Malta is no exception to this.

Now, some of you are probably wondering where, if not what, Malta is. That’s pretty fair; it’s pretty small.

The Maltese Archipelago is located in the Mediterranean Sea, approximately a three-hour ferry ride from South from Sicily and near Tunisia, Libya, and Greece in other directions. Malta consists of three inhabited islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino, with Malta being the most populated of the three islands.

Northwest of Malta lies Comino, a very small island populated only by one family and a hotel – virtually only visited as a tourist destination to spend time in Malta’s beautiful waters.

Farther Northwest of Malta and Comino lies Gozo, known to locals as Għawdex, which is the more traditional, less populated, more agricultural of the islands.

Throughout its years of human inhabitation, Malta has passed from hand to hand in power, from Roman to Arab, Norman, the Knights of St. John (of Jerusalem), French, and to most notably being owned by the British in 1814, experiencing both world wars, finding independence in 1964, declaring itself a republic a decade later, and joining the European Union in 2004.

This is the land my family came from. This is the heritage I know and love.

Maltese bread is and always has been a staple of life and heritage to Maltese people. Every village has its own bakery (if not more than one), and those who have immigrated across the world still use their family recipes to bring their heritage with them and share it with their new communities, whether by word of mouth, baking for friends, or building bakeries of their own.

Baking Ħobż tal Malti (literally “bread of Malta” – Maltese language has Semitic-Arabic roots) is more than just baking bread – it’s creating, sharing, spreading, and expanding heritage. It’s continuing the tradition of our ancestors no matter how far across the world we have spread, and keeping our culture alive across the seas and on the homeland.

It’s an honor to share this recipe, and an honor to share my heritage with the world.

The recipe is more complex than your average bread, but definitely worth it in the end. It’s crusty on the outside, with a springy, soft inside! To learn more about Maltese bread and the heritage behind it, a great article to look at is here.

Baking bread is a great way to share time with loved ones and teach them about your culture and heritage – especially considering how long it can take! So invite your friends over for the day (seriously, you’re going to need a day), get your oven ready, and bake some Ħobż tal Malti!

Ingredients (this makes two loaves out of one starter):

2 packages of active dry yeast
4 cups (approximate) of lukewarm water
8 cups (approximate) of flour
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp (approximate) olive oil


Step 1: Make Your Starter

Ingredients:
 
¼ tsp of active dry yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
2/3 cup plain flour

Put the yeast and water in a bowl and wait for the yeast to dissolve. Then, add the flour and knead all ingredients together for a few minutes until combined. The end result will be sticky, so be ready to get dough on your hands! Once combined, cover the bowl and leave in a warm place for at least six hours, or even overnight.


Step 2: Dissolve Your Starter

Ingredients: 

Half of a package of active dry yeast
1 cup of lukewarm water

After you’ve let the starter sit for at least six hours, half it. One half will be used to make the loaf, and the other can be saved in a refrigerator to make more loaves later on. Or, you can just make two loaves.*

Put the half package of active dry yeast into the cup of water, and wait for yeast to dissolve. Take the half you are using to bake and tear it up into pieces. Add these pieces to the water/yeast mixture, and get it as close to dissolved as you can. You will have to stir and squish it with your hands.

*Note: if you choose to make two loaves, just add all ingredients to each half. Ingredients listed in each following step are for one loaf.


Step 3: Create the Dough

Ingredients:

1-2 tsp salt
3-3 ½ cups of flour (approximately)

Add the salt to the water/starter mixture. Then, add the flour GRADUALLY. Mix well! This is the tricky part – your end result should have just enough flour that the dough is soft and no longer a batter. If your dough is too wet, add more flour. If your dough is too dry, add more water. Find the happy medium!


Step 4: Knead the Dough

Once your dough is formed, place it in a bowl, cover it, and let it sit for about 10-20 minutes to rise. Then, knead it for about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface. You may need to add flour if it gets sticky, but be careful to not add too much.


Step 5: Let it Rise

Ingredients:

~1 tsp olive oil

Oil your bowl, then place your kneaded dough into it. Cover the bowl and let it rise in a warm place for about 3-5 hours.


Step 6: Bake!

Preheat your oven to 475 F.

Shape into a loaf, transfer your dough onto an oiled baking sheet, and slash the tops to give them the look of Ħobż tal Malti.

Turn the oven down to 450 F. Put the baking sheet in, and bake for 20-30 minutes. You’re looking for loaves that have a crusty, light brown exterior. When done, remove them from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.

Slice and serve on sandwiches, with jam or butter, or as a side dish to your meals, and enjoy!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1384736

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

860675
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

825806
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

534015
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

335042
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

464727

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

316574

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

213339
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments