Qagħaq tal-Ġunġlien literally translates to sesame rings. These are traditional Maltese biscuits made from wheat flour, lemon and orange peel and a bunch of aromatics, including cinnamon, cloves and anise seed. You will also find them shaped in a figure of eight and called Ottijiet (otto = eight in Italian). They are commonly found all year round in bakeries, confectioneries and supermarkets all over the Maltese Islands.
The sesame rings are crunchy and full of aroma and are a great accompaniment to a hot cup of tea or coffee. These sesame rings divide those who love them in 2 groups… Those who just eat them as they are or those who dip them in their tea/coffee. I admit that I belong to the latter group. In other cases, I do love a good crunch on a biscuit but I find that the sesame rings are just meant to be dipped in the tea and let them melt in your mouth. Maybe it’s a childhood memory and I just can’t do otherwise! 😀
Here in Budapest, it is kind of difficult to find any sesame rings. So I asked my mum whether she has a recipe for them so I would also enjoy them while away from home.
And here they are! I am really happy with my first attempt and will definitely make them again in the future! 😀
Qagħaq tal-Ġunġlien - Maltese Sesame Rings
A traditional Maltese tea time biscuit commonly available in confectioneries all around the Maltese Islands.
- 300g plain flour
- 200g wholemeal flour
- 100g cold margarine, cubed
- 100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 170g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp anise seeds
- 1 tbsp lemon rind
- 1 tbsp orange rind
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Juice from 1 orange
- 4-6 tbsp milk
- a small bowl of sesame seeds
- In a large bowl, combine the plain and wholemeal flour, salt, margarine and unsalted butter. Using the rubbing in method and working as quick as you can, rub in the butter and margarine into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add in the sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, anise seeds, lemon and orange rinds and mix until well combined.
- Add one egg at a time, mixing the ingredients in between.
- Add the vanilla extract and gradually add the orange juice.
- Combine all ingredients to form the dough. It should be tacky but not too sticky. If it is too wet, add some more flour. If it is too dry, add some more orange juice.
- Place the dough into a bowl, cover it and place it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
- Before starting to roll out the dough, preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or baking paper.
- Lightly flour the surface and gently knead the dough. Cut the dough into small identical pieces.
- Roll a piece of dough into a rope. Join the ends of the rope together to form a ring. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
- Brush the tops of the rings with some milk. Dip the rings (milk side down) in the sesame seeds.
- Place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving some space in between.
- Place in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Let them cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.