We head to Falzon Bakery on homemade bread day.
Falzon Bakery - Rabat / Facebook
Maltese bread has been a staple food for as long as we can remember, so it was obvious (at least in my mind) to head to a local bakery to find out what it takes to make it on this special day - homemade bread day!
Enter Falzon Bakery in Rabat: a bustling little shop on College Street that is one of the few bakeries left on the island still using a traditional wood fire oven. Karmenu, one of the bakers here, explains a bit about the history of the place. “This bakery has been open since the World War II, but a little over 10 years ago, the Falzon family took over the running of the place.” Brothers Brian and Jonathan run it, and Karmenu and Chris with the baking - jealous, us?
Karmenu goes on to explain the wonderful process behind making Maltese bread. “The basic ingredients include flour, salt, and water. Once mixed, we let the dough sit for about three hours - this part is called the tinsila.” The length of time that the dough is left to sit depends on the weather. “If it is cold, we leave it a little longer than three hours, to give it time to rise. If it is warm, especially during the summer months, the dough is ready after about two hours.”
Falzon Bakery features an impressive production line that has the bakers working tirelessly to make tasty Maltese bread. First, the flour is brought down from an upper store through a silo and is sieved through and allowed to breathe. The dough is then prepared and left to sit, as Karmenu describes.
That's where Chris comes in, separating the dough into chunks, kneading each piece and placing them onto a long wooden tray or tilar, which holds around 30 pieces at a time, where they are once again left to sit for about an hour.
The bread rolls are then placed into the stone oven, which is heated with firewood up to a whopping 600°F. And voilà! Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, the beautiful Maltese bread is ready to enjoy! Karmenu also proudly adds that at the bakery, “around 500 bread loaves, including sliced Maltese bread, small panini, and ftajjar are sold each day” - and judging from the heavenly smell emanating from it, it's easy to see why!