Qagħqa tal-Appostli is a delicious soft bread with a crunchy crust covered with sesame seeds and whole almonds. This bread is made specifically during the Lent period.
As I previously mentioned in my previous recipes, Maltese cuisine thrives during Lent. We traditionally have so many delicious foods for this time of year that it almost makes you forget that you should fast. For today, I’m sharing with you one of the all time favourite’s: qagħqa tal-Appostli (Apostle’s ring bread). A large ring bread, with a soft crumb and slightly crunchy crust. The bread is also covered in sesame seeds and has whole almonds placed on top.
This bread is traditionally baked during Lent, in particular during the Holy Week. I personally associate this bread with the procession we used to have in my village for Our Lady of Sorrows. When I was younger I remember going to this procession with my mum, my aunt and my cousin. At the end of the procession, once we approach the church, there used to be several bakers all waiting for the people to arrive, so that they can sell their qagħaq tal-Appostli, karamelli tal-ħarrub, kwareżimal and figolli (preparing for Easter Sunday).
We always used to get one huge qagħqa tal-Appostli for each family, so to have it for our dinner together once back home, ideally with a generous spread of butter and served with broad beans and Maltese cheese (ġbejniet). However, the walk home from church was always so difficult! I remember me and my cousin trying to race back home so that we can enjoy our dinner, however, most of the time we would arrive home with the bread with no almonds left on top. Let’s just say that our mothers weren’t the happiest when they used to find out…
Making the bread
The qagħqa tal-Appostli is one of the easiest breads to make. All you need is flour, yeast, water, olive oil, salt, and sugar. After kneading well the dough, the waiting game begins as you have to let the dough rest first for an hour, then after kneading it again for some minutes let it rest again for an hour and finally let it rest again after shaping and preparing the ring.
One of the most important things, in my opinion, is that you have to be generous with the sesame seeds and the almonds! One of my biggest disappointments used to be when we get a qagħqa tal-Appostli and you barely have any almonds on it! For me the almonds are what makes this bread unique. Especially, as I grew up believing that there should be 12 almonds like the 12 Apostles and hence the name. However, I’m not sure if the latter is true or not as I couldn’t find concrete information.
The smell of fresh bread
This bread ideally is enjoyed the same day that it’s baked. However, if you have some leftover bread simply warm it up before serving or toast it slightly. You can either enjoy a piece of this bread with a good spread of butter or else fill it up with your favourite toppings.
The below recipe makes either one large qagħqa tal-Appostli or else two medium sized ones. In the photos, I made two medium sized ones about 25cm in width.
Qagħqa tal-Appostli – Maltese Apostle’s ring bread
- 500 g bread flour or plain flour
- 4 g sugar 1 tsp
- 15 g salt 2 tsp
- 6 g active dry yeast
- 45 ml olive oil
- 280 ml water
- 12 whole almonds
- sesame seeds
- In a small bowl mix together the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar. Set the mixture aside until it froths. This usually takes about 15 minutes.
- In a mixer or in a large bowl, mix the flour and the salt together and make a well. Add the olive oil and the yeast mixture in the well.
- Start kneading or mixing the dough in the mixer. If you are going to knead the dough by hand it should take you about 20 minutes. Whereas with the mixer the dough should be done in 10 minutes. The dough should be sticky, so don't add any extra flour to it.
- Place the dough in a bowl, cover and let it proof for about 1 hour. After this resting time it should be double in size. Punch the dough down, knead for a few minutes and let it rest again for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C or 400°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Once rested roll the dough into a log of about 60cm. Form the ring by joining both ends together and place on the baking tray. Brush the ring with some water, sprinkle the sesame seeds and add the whole almonds. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes or an hour. if you're doing two medium sized rings, divide the dough in 2 and roll each piece to about 35cm long, and continue with the same process as above.
- Bake the Apostle's ring bread for about 40 minutes until it has a nice golden brown colour.
- Let it rest before serving.
If you have any questions, feedback or comments on this recipe, please leave a comment below. Please also rate this recipe by double clicking on the stars below. If you did make this recipe, tag @apronandwhisk and hashtag #apronandwhisk, as I’m curious to see what you create!
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