Sunday, July 13, 2008

Royal Crown's Fennel Taralli

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I was planning to bake another no-knead bread this weekend, but at the last minute, I decided I wanted something more interesting, so I turned to Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking for inspiration. I opened the book at random to page 201, which had a big picture of beautiful, shiny brown elongated ovals.
The directions looked easy. I like fennel, and I like crunchy, cracker-like things. Most of all, I like shaping things into long, thin snakes. When I was in the first grade, I learned to make bowls out of modeling clay by making a snake-like shape and then rolling it up into a bowl. I was very careful and earnest, and I was the best snake-bowl-maker in the first grade. Unfortunately, my artistic ability peaked there. By the time I was in third grade, my friend Jennifer was using modeling clay to shape dogs and cats, and I was stuck in the snake-bowl phase.
Making the tartalli was just like being in first grade again. First you divide the dough into 32 30-gram balls, and then roll them into 11-inch-long snakes. With moistened fingers, you pinch the ends together and then hold it on your fingers so that the shape becomes a big elongated.

After the dough rests for a few hours, during which time it does nothing to speak of, there's another fun part--the dough gets boiled in water to which olive oil has been added.

They only boil for about a minute, until they puff up a little, then they're put on a rack to drain. I have no idea what would happen if you just baked them, without doing the boiling thing first. I think it makes them a little shinier than they would otherwise be because a little of the olive oil sticks to them as they're being removed from the water.

Finally, after they've dried off a bit, they go into the oven for about 45 minutes (more like 35 in the convection setting). When they're nice and brown, they slide right off the baking sheet onto a rack. (If you drop one on the floor, it shatters). Excellent with wine or tea as an afternoon pick-me-up.
All the steps make it sound like the taralli are difficult and time-consuming, but they're quite easy and fun, and they take only about four hours from start to finish.

Royal Crown's Fennel Taralli
--from Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer
1/2 t. instant yeast
3 c. (450 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 c. (120 grams) durum flour
1 3/4 t. (9 grams) salt
3 T. (40 grams) vegetable oil
1/4 c. (60 grams) white wine
1 T. (60 grams) fennel seeds
1 cup plus 2 T. (250 grams) water
2 T. Olive oil

Add yeast, flours, salt, vegetable oil, and white wine to food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade. With the machine running, add the water through the feed tube and process until smooth, firm dough is formed. Remove dough and knead in fennel seeds by hand.
Divide dough into 32 (30 gram) pieces. Dampen your hands sand roll a piece of dough into an 11-inch rope. Pinch ends together. Hold rope ring together at the seal and let it drop into an elongated oval shape.
After all the dough is formed, cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400.
Bring a pot of water to the boil and reduce heat so the water is simmering. Add the olive oil to the simmering water. Set a rack over a baking sheet. Boil the taralli in small batches, for about one minute, or until they float and puff up slightly. Skim them from the pot and let them drain on the rack. After they've drained, move them to two parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
Bake in preheated oven until they are dry and golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after about 20 minutes. Let cool on rack and store in sealed container.


Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for quite a while and thoroughly enjoy it. You've got me making bread again too. This looks like a great recipe to try with my kids as they are off for the summer. Perhaps we'll do it without the wine addition though!

Sue in Ottawa, Canada

Anonymous said...

Hi Marie,

Great job on the Taralli! Your pictures always look great, too. I love that you include pics as you go along and not just the finished product.

Who knew that all the first grade training would pay off so well?

Hope you have a great week!

Laura Lee

Doughadear said...

Hi Marie
It's almost like making bagels except bagels are chewy. Around here you can usually find these for sale in Italian Delis where they have them piled high in wicker baskets. Yours look very authentic and I am sure the Italians would be quite impressed.

pinknest said...

oooh so snakey, so fun! so for me to eat.

Jude said...

Looks fun to eat. I like baking breads with fennel.

Meli said...

Those look like fun! Brings back memories of bagels and simit making.
I like hoopy baked goods.
Your excelled snake shaping phase has found its niche. You rule, once again!
I haven't heard of these, so thanks for the introduction. I also love fennel flavoured things, so I guess I just have to try these.
So... for your next hooped baked goods? Donuts/doughnuts.

breadbasketcase said...

These would be great fun to make with kids! I'm pretty sure the wine isn't an essential ingredient--I certainly couldn't detect any winy flavor in the finished product. Maybe the alcohol does something, but I doubt it. I also wondered why the recipe doesn't call for olive oil instead of vegetable oil in the dough itself.

Laura Lee,
Thanks! Maybe I should write a book called Everything You Need to Know You Learn in First Grade.

It is a lot like the bagel-making technique, but they don't much resemble bagels. I've never seen these for sale in a deli or bakery, but I'll bet they'd be popular. I'll have to think about becoming a taralli maker when/if I retire.

Well, they keep very well, so you just need to plan a little weekend trip to Minneapolis. I can find you better food than the food you had at Taste of Chicago.

Yes, they're very fun to eat--with fruit, with cheese, or just plain.

I guess I must like hoopy baked goods too, seeing as how I like bagels and simit. (Good memory you have!) I've often considered doughnuts, but deep fat fryers kind of scare me. I've seen recipes for baked doughnuts, but I think a doughnut wouldn't taste right without that crispy, fresh from the fryer, goodness.

breadbasketcase said...

When did you become Meli?

Melinda or Meli said...

When I typed out my name and accidentally hit the wrong suggested options and didn't notice it. But you can call me Meli if you like!

breadbasketcase said...

No thanks--I don't think "Meli" suits you at all!

Marty said...

I don't use wine and do use olive oil. I suggest you add some ground black pepper. It gives them a little kick. Great with wine.
So glad you're back.

breadbasketcase said...

Hi Marty,
I wanted to use olive oil, but I try to follow a recipe exactly, at least the first time I make it. I'd use olive oil the next time, and I'm sure a few grinds of pepper would be a good addition. Do you use water instead of wine?

Marty said...

I use water and do not care for the wine taste. I also follow recipes exactly for the first time. Everyone in the family had there own recipe, some with wine. My cousin uses veg oil. My mother only used eggs, no yeast. Everyone used pepper and fennel. So you see it's wide open here. Have fun. And yes everyone claimed their taralli were the best.

Doughadear said...

Hi Marie

I picked up a couple of things today at my local Italian deli and there they were three large wicker baskets filled with taralli; one plain fennel, one made with olive oil, and one with hot pepper flakes. Of course as soon as I saw them I thought of you. By the way they sell them for $12.00 per kilogram, so when and if you retire you could make a killing.

breadbasketcase said...

I can safely say that my taralli are the best I've ever eaten--since I'd never heard of them before.

The idea of me rolling out taralli snakes and making a killing after a retire makes me very happy!

Jennifer and Sandi said...

YOU Won an Award!! Go check out our site!!! Love your Blog

breadbasketcase said...

Jennifer and Sandi,
Thanks! Very nice of you--I'll unveil the award next time I do a posting, which may not be for a while. I hate to have the oven and the air conditioner on at the same time.

Jim said...

Marie said that I would post some pictures of our Australia/New Zealand trip, and I've finally finished doing it. You can see them (if you like other people's travel pictures - or if you don't, for that matter) at

Goody said...

I think this is the first comment I've left you, but you just baked something I've been searching years for.

I never knew they had a name. We used to buy them in the Italian grocery in Chicago in a large plastic bag. Yours are actually shaped better than the ones I remember as a child.

I have a three year old that adores fennel-guess what I'll be baking tomorrow.

Thank you so much for posting this-I never thought I'd see them again.


breadbasketcase said...

I can't tell you how happy and gratified your post makes me feel--what fun to have this serendipitous taralli posting! Let me know how yours turn out.

Goody said...

I made them today. Thank you again-we love them.

jini said...

hey marie.....see you at edesia?? tell jim his travel photos are outstanding!

breadbasketcase said...

That's great--thanks for letting me know.

I plan to be there--whole grains, right?

jini said...

yes, whole grains it is. j