Maltese Traditional Biscuits. These rings are a local delicacy and same as Biskuttelli you might find a small bakery where they still make them. Otherwise you have to buy them from supermarkets and small grocery shops. They can be eaten either straight from the packet or else dipped in hot milk, tea or coffee.
- 300g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 12g baking ammonia
- 150g sugar
- 100g margarine
- juice of half of an orange and half of a lemon
- grated rind of half of an orange and half of a lemon
- 2 small eggs
- sesame seeds
- vanilla essence
- Sieve the flour and baking ammonia into a large bowl, holding the sieve as high as possible, so that the flour gets a really good airing.
- Add the margarine, cut into smallish lumps, then begin to rub it into the flour using your fingertips only and being as light as possible. As you gently rub the fat into the flour, lift it up high and let it fall back into the bowl, which again means that all the time air is being incorporated, but do this just long enough to make the mixture crumbly with a few odd lumps here and there.
- Add the orange and lemon zests and the juice. Mix well.
- Add the eggs, vanilla essence and work into a smooth and elastic dough. Put it in a plastic bag or wrap in cling film and leave to rest for at least half an hour. You can prepare the dough the day before and leave it in the fridge overnight.
- Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and lightly knead. Divide it in small pieces around 60g each.
- Preheat the oven to Gas mark 5 or 190oC.
- Work the dough into a small ball, and then roll between your hands to form a long shape. You can then give it round-ended finger shaped ends, or else twist the pastry into circles and press the ends together. You can also shape it into a figure of eight.
- You can either leave them plain or else sprinkled with sesame seeds. Put some sesame seeds on a flat plate and press the pastry shapes into the seeds.
- Arrange the pastry shapes on a well-greased baking-tray, or else lined with baking paper, and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they are golden.
Baking ammonia should not be confused with the ordinary household ammonia, which is poisonous. It is a type of baking powder and it yields a very light, airy and crisp product. That is why it is used only in biscuits, pastry rings and cookies. Compared to other leavening agents, the crispness will last longer when using baking ammonia. It can be bought from shops specializing in cooking aids. It has to be stored in a airtight container.