Taralli are the signature hard country biscuit of Molise and Campania. They look like bagels and can be made large or small. They appear at every meal and are addictive. They are flavored with fennel seeds, black pepper and the ever present peperoncino. Try using all these flavorings in the dough or just one. When taralli are braided they are called treccine (little braids).
1 cup warm water (110-115F)
2 teaspoons active dried yeast
1 teaspoon Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 3/4 to 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
Pour the water into a food processor fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast and pulse to dissolve it. Pour the olive oil into the feed tube.
In a bowl mix 2 3/4 cups of the flour with the salt and pour through the feed tube with the motor running. Stop the machine.
Grind the fennel seeds in a spice grinder until coarse. Add them through the feed tube along with the black pepper. Pulse the machine to blend the ingredients. Add additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft, and not sticky. When it winds itself around the blade into a ball, stop the machine and transfer the dough to a lightly olive oiled bowl.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Punch down the dough and transfer it to a work surface. Only use flour on the surface if the dough is sticky, but it should be fine without it.
Roll the dough out into a 36-inch log. Cut 36 1-inch pieces.
Roll two pieces into an 8 inch rope, then twist the pieces together to form a braid. Pinch the ends together. Allow the treccine to rise on lightly greased baking sheets for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F
Bake the treccine about 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn off the oven and allow the treccine to really dry out in the oven. They should be the consistency of a hard cracker.
Serve at room temperature with cheese, and olives or with a glass of wine.
To freeze, wrap the treccine individually in plastic wrap and then in zip lock bag. They will keep for about 3 months.
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