Maltese Honey Rings – Bringing Nostalgia to the festive season

These honey rings are a traditional seasonal sweet in Malta, however you can find them in some bakeries all year round.

I use Renato’s recipe to make these honey rings, known as qaghaq tal-ghasel.  In fact the traditional honey rings are made using treacle. 

If you wish to reduce the sugar content of these honey rings, use stevia instead of sugar.  

Food brings people together and honey rings always disappear very quickly during any celebration.

For the filling you will need:

450g honey or treacle
400 ml water
250 g semolina
100 g sugar or the equivalent conversion of stevia
2 tablesppons orange flower water[ilma zghar]
Grated zest of an orange, lemon and tangerine
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

halt a teaspoon ground cloves

a pinch of salt

For the pastry you will need:
400g plain flour
100g semolina
50g butter
1 beaten egg
Around 100ml water
and around 2 tablespoons semolina to scatter over the baking paper


First make the filling .
Add all the ingredients with the exception of the semolina in a pot on low heat and stir. 
Start to add the semolina a little at a time and keep stirring.
Carry on stirring for around 10 minutes, always on low heat.  Once the mixture starts to thicken, remove from heat and keep stiring. 
Allow the mixture to cool down and preferably place in the fridge overnight.
 
Make the pastry by rubbing in the butter, cut up into small pieces, into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the beaten eggs and start to bid together.
Add enough water, a spoonful at a time and keep binding the pastry until it is pliable and not too dry
Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge overnight.
 
The next day cut the pastry into 12 pieces.
Place some semolina on a working top and open up the pastry using a rolling pin to around 8 cm by 25 cm.
Place the filling in the centre of the pastry and leave enough space at the edges so that you can roll it into a sausage shape.
Use a brus dipped in water to lightly brush the pastry edges. 
Close the pastry to form a sausage shape with the filling in the centre.
Form a circle by bringing the two ends of the sausage shape together.
Again brush with water and join the two edges.
Use a knife to make incisions around the circle and use the knife to open up the gap of the incision.
Place some semolina on a baking dish covered with baking paper.
Place each honey ring on the baking paper.
Preheat the oven to 190C and cook the honey rings for 25 minutes until they are cooked.   Do not overcook and do not allow the pastry to brown.   Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.
 

This recipe yields 12 honey rings.