I have seen taralli variously described as Italian bagels, Italian pretzels, and Italian oval bread sticks. So I guess we can at least safely say they’re Italian. Since I haven’t eaten these in Italy, I don’t know whether the ones I made are anything like the authentic ones, but they did taste good with a glass of red wine. And they’ll keep until your two-year-old is in college.
The recipe is inspired by Royal Crown’s Fennel Taralli from Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer. I added some cracked pepper and made a few other adaptations for the ingredients I had on hand. I used a food processor but the dough can also be kneaded by hand if your upper body needs a good workout. The fennel seeds are worked in by hand at the end in either case.
Fennel and Pepper Taralli
Yield: 24 taralli
- Mix: 10 minutes
- Divide and shape: 15 minutes
- Proof: 2 hours
- Bake: 40 – 45 minutes
Final Dough Ingredients:
- 340 g flour
- 90 g high-gluten flour (such as King Arthur’s Sir Lancelot)
- 0.7 g (1/4 t.) instant yeast
- 7 g (generous 1 t.) salt
- 2.5 g (3/4 t.) coarsely-ground black pepper
- 188 g water at room temperature
- 30 g olive oil
- 45 g white wine
- 7.5 g (generous 1 T.) fennel seeds
- 2 T. olive oil for boiling
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flours, salt, yeast, and pepper with a few pulses.
- Combine the water, 30 g olive oil, and wine. With the processor running, add the liquid ingredients in a thin stream.
- Process for about a minute, until the dough is smooth and firm.
- Knead the fennel seeds into the dough by hand until they are evenly distributed.
- Divide the dough into 24 pieces of approximately 30 grams each.
- To shape each taralle, roll the dough into a rope about 11 inches long and pinch the ends together. (If the dough is a little dry, a quick spritz of water with a fine spray bottle helps it roll more easily, and the ends stick to each other.) Gently stretch the ring into an oval and lay in on the counter.
- Cover the taralli with plastic and proof for 2 hours. They will not look like they have risen.
- Meanwhile, place two oven racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F.
- Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the 2 T. olive oil.
- Place a cooling rack on the counter with a dishtowel underneath it. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Boil the taralli in batches of three or four for about one minute, until they float and puff a little. Remove them to the cooling rack with a slotted spatula. Once drained, arrange them on the paper-lined baking sheets.
- Once all the taralli are boiled, bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until very dry, rotating the baking sheets about halfway through the baking.
- Cool on a wire rack.