Friday, March 29, 2013

Hobz tal-Malti (Maltese Bread)

Yes, you can make this at home using a regular oven!

Step 1 - Preparing the starter

This is what the starter dough should look like

100g Plain Flour*
12g Gluten *
Pinch of Yeast
100ml tepid water

Mix flour and gluten together, add pinch of dried yeast, add water and work into a very sticky dough with a spoon. Cover with cling film and let rise for 6+ hours. No salt at this stage.

Step 2 - Feeding the starter

Starter dough after 6+hrs 
100ml tepid water, 
100g of flour 
12g of gluten.

 Mix flour and gluten together. In the same bowl that has the starter, add the 100ml water and dissolve lightly but not completely. Add the flour and mix everything together into a a very sticky dough. No salt at this stage! Cover and let rise again for 6+ hours.

Step 3 - Making the bread

Step 2 Starter after 6+hrs 
400g plain flour
48g gluten
7g instant yeast
300ml tepid water
1-2 tsp salt 

Take 1/2 of the dough from step two and put it in a large mixing bowl. Wrap the other 1/2 in cling film or an air tight plastic bag and store in the fridge for your next baking session! This will eliminate steps 1 and 2 next time you want to bake this bread again.

Mix the instant yeast in the 300ml tepid water and let it foam for a good 5-10 minutes. Add the flour (mixed with the gluten, very important to mix the flours beforehand) and salt to the mixing bowl with the 1/2 step 2 dough and add the water with yeast. Work into a dough, knead on a surface for a good 10 minutes until you have a nice elastic dough. Cover the bowl and let rise for about 3 hours.

During these 3 hours, you need to fold the dough twice. Fold the dough after the first hour (you should fold it 4-5 times each fold, if that makes sense :-P) and then again after the second hour. You can view this youtube video a instructions of how to fold the dough. It is important to just fold the dough and not knead the dough.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 450 Fahrenheit. If you have a pizza stone, the result will be much better. If not you can bake the bread on a floured baking sheet, but I cannot stress enough the importance of investing in a pizza stone if you intend to bake this bread! 

After 3 hours and 2 folds, the dough should have doubled in sized. Place on a floured surface and gently shape into a ball, pressing the sides with the palm of your hands. Again, do not knead the dough as you would destroy the air bubbles that have been created with the folding process.

If you are looking to make Ftira, please click here.

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Initially dough should be very sticky
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Covered in cling film and wet kitchen paper
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Final proof

Dust well with flour. Cover and let it prove for another 45 minutes. Before popping in the oven, add more flour to the surface or just flip the dough upside down (as the bottom will be uneven therefore more flour sticks to it), dust with more flour on top and pop on the pizza stone. Bake for a good 50 minutes if making one loaf. If you are splitting the dough to make two loaves, bake them together for 35 minutes.

Enjoy the bread! 

*High Gluten Flour - Bread flour in the US has only 4% of protein which is not enough for this kind of bread. I usually buy Bob's Red Mill Gluten Flour and add 12grms of this to a 100grms of plain flour. If you manage to find bread flour with at least 12% of gluten content then you don't need this. Do not add more than 12grms per 100g of flour otherwise the bread will turn out into a rubbery spongy texture.


gingin said...

You've convinced me:) I shall be trying this very soon. Will let you know how it goes! Thanks for sharing the's very clear and I love the photos you show...makes it easier to follow.

gingin said...

You've convinced me:) I shall be trying this very soon. Will let you know how it goes! Thanks for sharing the's very clear and I love the photos you show...makes it easier to follow.

Martin D said...

Having returned from a recent trip to Malta I wanted to make this bread. Now I am making it at least once a week. Sharing with family.....we have Maltese roots.
The only thing I do differently is that I roll the dough onto the floured pizza stone after the first rise. Use the bowl to cover the pizza stone for the second rise. I find by not reshaping the dough it gives me a better bread. So instead of doing a last 45 minute rise. I just turn the oven on after the second rise. When the oven comes up to temp, about 15-20 mins I then put the stone in the oven for 50 mins.
Great recipe, thank you for posting it.

The Borg said...

No you won't be assimilated...

Thanks for this recipe, I am an addict for Hobz biz zejt, which is ther first thing I grab in Malta on arrival... along with the stuffed olives, gbejniet and the pastizzi.. but I digress.

I'd been looking for something close to Maltese bread for years and this recipe ticks almost all the boxes. 9 of 10 :-)

To top a Maltese bakers' bread is a hard task since their starters are cultured over decades and passed through the generations...

Challenge accepted!

Right back to my Hobz biz zejt! Mmmmm. Is there nothing it can't do!

Rita Zammit said...

Kief inti,

I am Maltese, born in Malta in 1968, migrated to Australia in 1971.
I love being Maltese. Im looking for a pulpetti recipe thats without potato. I think my ma use to make it with corned beef, egg, garlic, but not sure.
Maltese food is great!!

Rita Zammit

Lydia Pace Workman said...

Rita, I make mine without potatoes. I use corned beef or ground beef, grated parmesan cheese, garlic, beaten eggs and chopped fresh parsley. That's it, enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Really want to try this...
Just a quick question.
Do you use a different yeast in your starter as you label it "yeast"
But in the bread recipe you use "instant yeast"