MALTA – Ħobż Malti

bread60

The breads I found for Malta all seemed to involve a fair bit of proofing. I found a great looking recipe for Ftira but it insisted that I needed a bread maker to successfully get the bread to rise so I didn’t get to try that one.

  • Recipe chosen for Hobz
  • Cooking method: Oven

Rating:

  • Faithfulness to recipe: Yes
  • Met expectations? Partly. Wasn’t sure what it would be like exactly. The recipe was a little hard to read.
  • Would cook again? I’d prefer to make the ciabatta.
  • The taste test rated on a score of 5: 3.5. Tasted similar to ciabatta but not as good and didn’t have the same structure.

As you can see, the taste test team are getting in on the act of photographing each bread

Recipe

Ingredients

Starter

Day 1:

  • 1/4 teaspoon / 2 grams active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup / 80 ml lukewarm water
  • 2/3 cup / 100 grams strong / plain flour

Day 2 (OPTIONAL):

  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml lukewarm water
  • 2/3 cup / 100 grams flour

Dough

  • 1 teaspoon or half a package of active dry yeast, whichever is bigger
  • 1 cup / 250 ml lukewarm water
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups / 400 grams strong (plain) flour

Method

  1. Place day 1 starter ingredients into in a bowl and mix: knead (in the bowl, if you like) for a few minutes.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap / clingfilm and leave in a warm place for at least six hours, but preferably overnight.
  3. The next day, or the day after — whichever day you plan to bake on: refresh the starter. You do this by halving it. One half will be used to bake your bread.
    • OPTIONAL STARTER REFRESH: If you don’t want to bake this bread again, you don’t have to refresh the starter, you just use the one half for the bread.
    • Take the other half and combine it with:1/4 cup / 60 ml lukewarm water & 2/3 cup / 100 grams flour
    • Mix in a bowl, knead into a ball, and cover and leave in a warm place for another six hours. Then refrigerate until you need it to bake something else. When you do, refresh it again and halve it as above.
  4. Take the half of the dough starter that you saved, tear it up into little pieces, and add to it in a big bowl with the dough quantities of yeast and 1 cup / 250 ml lukewarm water. The object here is to get as much of the starter dissolved into the water as you can. Squish it in with your fingers if you have to.
  5. Add 1-2 teaspoons salt and 3 to 3 1/2 cups / 400 grams strong (plain) flour.
  6. Add this to the flour and salt to starter mixture and mix very well.
  7. Add just enough flour to leave you with something that’s no longer a batter, just a very soft dough. (Be careful about this, as too much wetness will mean the loaf doesn’t have enough structural integrity to bake properly: the air / gas bubbles won’t hold during the rise, and it will collapse when you bake.)
  8. When everything is mixed, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for ten minutes.
  9. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and silky. This will take about ten minutes. If you have to add flour to keep the stickiness from getting completely out of hand, be sparing about it.
  10. When finished, turn into an oiled bowl and leave to rise in a warm place for 2-5 hours.
  11. You must turn the dough once an hour for as long as you let this phase of rising continue. Turn it over lightly and don’t knock it down. You want to keep the gas bubbles in there, as you’ll need them during baking. Add more oil if it seems to make the turning easier.
  12. Once this rise is finished, you can store the dough in the fridge if you like to postpone the actual baking time.
  13. Transfer the dough to a floured worktop. Lightly slash the top. (Some bakers like to sprinkle sesame seeds on it first.) Then gently transfer it to an oiled or floured baking tray. Leave to rise one more time until double — 45 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 230C or as high as it’ll go in that range.
  14. Bake at 230C for 30-40 minutes. (Fan oven bakers, lower the temperatures by 20 degrees or so) Keep an eye on the bread: at the 15- or 20-minute mark, check it to see if it needs to be turned around, or the temperature lowered a little.
  15. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
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