Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taralli (Fennel Bread Rings)


Periodically my husband goes to a small town in Italy for work. I don't accompany him because the travel is longer than the stay and there are civilized rules about that (except in American business travel). Of course he returns waxing poetical about the dinner he had. Often he will call me from Italy to describe his meal in detail. He knows I am in Minnesota rethinking my travel rules.


But when he is sings praises of settling down after work with a glass of wine and these hard little pretzel-cracker rings - I didn't know what to think. I am the pretzel eater in this house. I am the cracker eater. And when he found a bag of Taralli when we were in Tuscany - I finally got the point. They're addictive. It's not like eating a pretzel (which is my salt lick). It's not like today's gussied-up crackers with rosemary, cracked pepper and cheese. It's not a burst of flavor. It's simple. Understated.  And when you are reaching for your fifth one - you get the point.


It doesn't dazzle. It just is. No bells and whistles and although I served them with salami and cheese tonight - tomorrow Paul and I will read in the living room with a glass of wine and a small bowl of taralli and enjoy a quiet normalcy. A lovely settling in for the night.


It's quite perfect for a late winter's eve. I love fancy and excitement has its place. But it's the simple and repetitive motions of putting together the taralli and then sharing them that ushers in contentment.

Taralli (Fennel Bread Rings) Ingredients (from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Italy)
(Note: makes 6 dozen! Feel free to divide in half)

1-1/2 teaspoons (1 package) of active dry yeast
1/2 cup (4 ounces) warm water (105-115 degrees F)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
2 tablespoons fennel seeds*
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup olive oil

*If you feel a call to the more fanciful, these are also good using crackled black pepper, sea salt or freshly-grated Parmesan. (Instead or with the fennel - your call.)


And be warned - they do make a lot. Go to your Zen spot or freeze half the dough.

Preparation
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water.
2. In a large bowl, stir the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, fennel seeds and salt.
3. Add the yeast mixture, wine and oil. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes - until dough is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a bowl.
4. Oil a large bowel and put dough into it - turning once so all is coated. Put plastic wrap on top of bowl and let it sit to rise in a draft-free spot. Let it rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
*Mine never did double - even after 2 hours - maybe my Minnesota kitchen is not warm enough - but the Taralli turned out fine... wonderful.... delicious.
5. Turn dough on to lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces. Cover remaining dough as you work with one piece at a time.
6. Pinch off "grape-sized" pieces of dough. (Large grapes - not champagne grapes or you will be forming these until 2013.) Roll into a ball and then a 3-4 inch rope. Shape the dough into a ring - pinching the ends together to seal (some of mine... unsealed). Repeat. A lot.
7. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the dough rings - about 8 at a time and boil for one minute (they will rise to the top). Remove with a slotted spoon and let them drain. They should not touch.(They will stick together). I drained them on paper towels - but you need to remove them after about 30 seconds - or they will stick to the towels. Repeat until all are boiled.
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the Taralli on a baking sheet. Cook for about 45 minutes (until browned.) Turn off oven and let Tarelli sit in oven with door slightly ajar for about ten minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. They will keep in an airtight container for about two weeks.

And I finally see - why after taking 3 planes, renting a car and driving for two hours - making it just in time for a meeting and then a day's work - why it is so soul-satisfying to sit in a piazza with a glass of wine and some taralli - it's just so real. Nourishment in a crispy bite.

73 comments:

Tina said...

Basic food does have a place at our house, because fancy is just too rich to have all the time-not to mention expensive! I seriously think that the recipe is large for a reason-mostly because these will be eaten in numbers without a thought! They look like a good change from the standard cheese and crackers, especially with the fennel seeds-yum!

Rebecca Subbiah said...

these look great and bet he brings home some great food

Balvinder Ubi said...

I am the bread, cake and cracker eater in my house. When I found out I am gluten intolerant, first thing I worried about was How am I going to satiate my flour craving.
Taralli would have been good with cheese and salami. Enjoy your quiet time tomorrow with Paul.

PolaM said...

I absolutely love taralli! possibly my favorite snack in the world!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Oh you temptress you. these are one of my favorite snacks and yours look so inviting. pass the wine please.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Love "by the fifth one you get the point." And with wine? Yes please.
Sam

Mister Meatball said...

I might not grab a flight for these, but I would hop in the car and drive to you-know-where.

Joanne said...

Well the one similarity that taralli have to pretzels are that you can't stop at just one :P I am definitely serving these at our next family gathering!

Marina said...

Those Taralli look really addictive to me too!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I'm lucky as quite a few bread stores in Brooklyn sell fresh baked tarelli. They are aabsolutely addicting! I love the ones with fennel and my husband loves the red pepper flavor. Your tarelli came out realy pretty, Claudia.

Aarthi said...

That looks delicious...

Aarthi
http://www.yummytummyaarthi.com/

Kate said...

I have never heard of Taralli...sadly, I have never traveled in Italy. I will however, have to make these. They look perfect!

Mary said...

You've sold me! I've bookmarked this recipe. I am always on the lookout for new things and this is certainly new to me. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

Inside a British Mum's Kitchen said...

How delicious - I'm craving them right now! they look simple gorgeous!
Mary x

Jeanette said...

These look like fun and I can only imagine how addicting they must be.

Amy said...

I have never seen crackers like this before, but they sound delicious! I love the flavors in them, fennel is wonderful!

Cake Duchess said...

I adore taralli. My friends from Bari make them sometimes and they brought us back some from there one year. Delicious with cheese and good wine. Yours look authentic and oh so good, Claudia! un bacione. xx

once in a blue moon said...

looks delish and i love your header pic~

Reeni said...

I never had a homemade taralli! My Mom has been asking me to make them forever. I understand their addictive qualities. They look so perfectly harmless but they're sly.

Kathy said...

Claudia, These are beautiful! I've bought these at an Italian bakery but have never had them homemade...they must be delicious!

easyfoodsmith said...

Never heard of Taralli. I like the flavour of fennel in there. Will love to try these. Bookmarked

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those are marvelous! Perfect with cheese and salami or dried meat. I love the flavor of fennel seeds.

Cheers,

Rosa

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

I have never had a Taralli before - I first thought they're bagels. =P Thanks for introducing me this delicious bread rings!

Jill Colonna said...

Well Claudia, these taralli are ringing my bell and served with that beautiful looking cheese (pecorino?) I'd be racing you to get to my 5th one, too. Next time you should go for the ride.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

These look thoroughly addictive! I'm really interested in trying these now as I love crunchy, salty things! :)

Epicurea said...

because of lent, i am looking for sugar-free snack ideas - these sound absolutely addictive!

Barbara said...

What a great idea, Claudia. Love that fennel flavor and these little rings look delicious.

Biren @ Roti n Rice said...

Sounds really good with wine! Sometimes simple is just the best :)

Jeannie said...

Looks like bagels but I guess they don't taste the same huh? Must give this a try, let's hope I don't reach for the fifth one or that would be the death of my diet!

Catherine said...

Dear Claudia, I am right there with you! This platter looks sooooo good! I love these! Blessings my friend, Catherine xo

mr. pineapple man said...

These look amazing! Wonder how they taste like!

The Food Hunter said...

I've never made these at home...I really should try it.

Juliana said...

Claudia, these rings look great...love the small size of it...and white wine in the dough? First time that I encounter such a recipe...very interesting.
Thanks for sharing such a great recipe and hope you are having a fabulous week :)

SKIP TO MALOU said...

I love this post... but then again i love every post that you have. But this one makes me imagine you and Paul at the end of the day.. just to unwind.
I thought at first they were bagels but oh no they look addicting... and my mouth could munch more than I could pronounce the word haha.
xo,
Malou

Barbara GF said...

These are one of my favorites, Claudia. There is an Italian pastry shop here that makes them, but after seeing this recipe, I am going to give them a whirl this weekend. And I admit to being a cracker addict, too! Don't forget the wine with these.

Lizzy said...

The bread lover in me adores these yummy rings! And with cheese and salami....ah, heavenly. That would be my dinner. Congrats to Kirsten on her grad school decision...and she'll be close to home, too :)

Natasha Price said...

Oh, junior and I would so love to make these! So great with fennel seeds!

Treatntrick treatntrick said...

Looks so cute and love the addition of fennel in them! Thanks so much for your sweet comment dear....

beti said...

Ok now I have more bread recipes to do, I have made almost every shape but these are really cute, they look like delicious savory donuts

Christy said...

Hahaha, I think I am quite the opposite; my hubby is the one who is the pretzel or cracker eater in the house :) But we do love telling each other about our day when we see each other at the end of the day, yeah, including our lunch ;)

Angie's Recipes said...

I adore basic simple food. These bread rings sound scrumpy prepared with wine.

Island Vittles said...

the white wine in the recipe has sold me...I am so curious about these! I just know I'm going to love them. Theresa

Lynda said...

They look like mini bagels and they sound really good. I love bread and having these to munch on would be wonderful. Except I wouldn't be able to stop!
So Claudia, are you going on the next trip! :)

Fresh Local and Best said...

These are like lovely fennel bagels. One of these days you ought to join your hubby on the trip, it'll be an adventure!

Cucina49 said...

Oh. My. It's like a little Italian bagel cracker. What's not to like about that? I don't remember seeing these the last time I was in Italy, but am going to seek them out next time.

Susan Lindquist said...

You had me at the photo of the taralli, salami, and cheese ... for us the perfect evening light supper ... with the red wine, of course! Wink, wink!

What a delicious post!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

When we lived in Florida, I could buy these at an Italian bakery but I have never seen them in New Hampshire. Now I have a recipe for these wonderful little morsels.

Judy said...

You can't go wrong with a Williams Sonoma recipe, they are the best. These look fabulous.

FOODESSA said...

My family goes through a basket of these in no time. Is 6 dozen enough...ohh, not for them it isn't. LOL

My stepfather, has been on a kick lately to bake these every weekend. I shall pass on your shared recipe. He can then compare and surprise us with a new baked version ;o)

Have a lovely weekend Claudia.

Ciao for now,
Claudia

Lori Lynn said...

He knows his business.
LL

Hutchinsons said...

Okay, I am totally on a calorie restricted diet right now, but figured out that one of these only has 44 calories. If I could have just a few (excuse me while I stop rolling on the floor laughing), then it wouldn't be too bad!
It would be the perfect food for both of us - me the bread and hubby the savory.

Roz said...

Mmmmm Claudia, this is a new Italian recipe for me, but I'd certainly eat these savory treats in a most addictive, out-of-control way! Pass the wine too!

Frank said...

Here's one I'll have to bookmark. I grew up on these but never learned the make up. Until now… thanks!

We Are Not Martha said...

Wow, these look crazy delicious!! I love fennel (and bread, obviously!) and think this is an awesome new way to enjoy it!

Sues

Ruth said...

They look just as amazing as they sounded. How did you manage to resist eating them all by yourself?

Torviewtoronto said...

looks wonderful lovely cracker
fennel gives lovely aroma and flavour

oysterCulture said...

Oh, I love these little guys, and I agree they kinda sneak up on you. Great post and thanks for the recipe.

Beth said...

Most of the time when my husband travels for business, I don't have any desire to travel with him. But then he doesn't travel to Italy!

And you're right, sometimes simplicity and contentment is the greatest happiness of all.

Island Vittles said...

I made these over the weekend...boy, are you right about the addictive part! Theresa

Pegasuslegend said...

I havent made these in years, boy do we love these ! Use to go nuts looking for the muscatel wine for them, that was the only one mom would use... thanks for reminding me to make these again, we just love them yours look perfecT!

Erica said...

They look delicious! i would love to go to Italy ......and eat all day :)

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

Thanks for reminding me of this lovely treat!!! Does it happen to you that you eat things you love, and with the time you forget about them? or am I getting too old? ;D

Vianney Rodriguez said...

the flavor si dreamy fennelw ith white wine. they look amazing. a lovely evening reading with a glass of wine...oh heaven, I love it!

Jade @ System said...

you always amaze me with your simply work, very impressive.

maha said...

Oh my god..such a mouthwatering dish..it looks just awesome...vl try 4 sure....
Maha

Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits said...

Claudia,
I love this recipe. My (Spanish) mother-in-law make these "roscas de anis" that are very lightly sweetened and they are delicious. I'll try your recipe because I'm sure they'll be good with or without sugar.

Magic of Spice said...

These look and sound fantastic...I can so see why they would be addicting :)
Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

Mary said...

We miss you! Ihope you are having a great time. Blessings...Mary

Russell at Chasing Delicious said...

What a scrumptious recipe! Yum!

Kathy said...

Whenever I go to the Italian Market I buy these. I have never tried to make them. I am inspired! They look absolutely fantastic!

Bo said...

Must try these!

Anonymous said...

My husband's family is Italian and we ate these - but the pepper version, dipped in red wine. He says they were served at Easter and the recipe disappeared with his grandmother since his mother didn't make them. Now I can try to serve Gramma Mellie's dillalla (our spelling from how Gramma used to say it).
Thanks!

sophiesfoodiefiles said...

This was such a lovely post to read! Now, you are making me hungry,..for more!

I surely going to make these festive & tasty fennel breads! ;) They look so delectable! :)

Kisses from sunny Belgium to you, dear Claudia! :)