Taralli al finocchio

(= Taralli with fennel seeds)

Recommended wine: Le Chiassaie
Ingredients:1 kg flour (coarsely ground Italian “Tipo 2”)2 glasses dry white wine2 good handfuls of fennel seeds10 g brewer’s yeast350 ml water350 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil1 large tablespoon of fine salt

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Form a “well” in the flour, dissolve the yeast in 200 ml of warm water and pour it into the centre. Stir slowly to amalgamate the water and flour thoroughly, and add 250 ml of olive oil, the fennel seeds (slightly crushed with a meat pounder), the wine and a pinch of salt. Mix well with your hands and add some more warm water, a little at a time, until you have a smooth, soft dough.
After you’ve kneaded it well, put the dough to one side, cover it with cling film and leave it in a warm place to rise for about an hour – it will double in volume. When this time has passed, take a little dough at a time and roll it into cylinders around 10-12 cm long and with a finger-sized diameter. Form doughnut-like shapes and, to close, press the tail end with a fork. Place the taralli in an oiled and floured baking tray. Cook in a preheated oven, at 180°C, for roughly 10 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven, turn the taralli over one by one and put them back in to cook for another 15 minutes, at 150 °C (they should turn a nice biscuit colour on both sides).
They’re wonderful for an aperitif, on their own, or with various sauces, cold cuts and cheeses; alongside bread, or to replace it, accompanying antipasti and throughout a meal. Taralli can have different flavours; they can simply be made with olive oil, without “aromas”, or, instead of the fennel seeds, you can use rosemary, sesame seeds, oregano, chilli pepper or pieces of onion.