1 package active dry yeast (8 grams)
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon sugar
3 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons salt
For boiling taralli
A large pot of water
For egg wash
1 extra-large egg white, beaten
Warm up the water to proof yeast.
Mix in the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in the warm water, and stir.
Let the yeast rest for about 10 minutes (If mixture bubbles up, then the yeast is active and can be used).
Mix the yeast mixture with the flour, olive oil, fennel seeds and salt.
Knead until the dough is soft and malleable -- about 10 minutes.
Shape into a ball and place in a container.
Cover and keep in a warm place until the dough doubles in volume (anywhere from 3 to 6 hours).
Re-shape the dough into a thick log.
Cut a small chunk of dough and using the palms of your hands make a thin taralli-style log -- about 10 inches long by 1/4 inch thick.
Shape into a half bow. Pinch the ends together.
Place the taralli on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Repeat until all the dough is processed.
Cover the taralli and allow them to rest in a warm place for to 2 to 3 hours (or until they appear to have increased in volume.).
Boil water in a large tall pot.
Place one or two taralli at a time in the boiling water, and remove as soon as they come to the surface (about 2 minutes).
Remove with a slotted spoon and place on dish.
When all the taralli have been boiled, place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush the tops of the taralli with beaten egg white.
Bake in preheated 375 F. degree oven on middle rack until golden (about 20 minutes).
Photo: Mary Melfi.