Anise Taralli

Taralli is (are?) a cracker / pretzel / breadstick kind of bread “thing,” that is popular in the southern half of italy. Taralli can be lightly sweet, but are most often savory, spiced with fennel, black pepper, ground chiles, or, as below, with anise seed.

INGREDIENTS
13 Cups all-purpose flour
3/4 Cup sugar
2 Tbsp Anise Seed
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
2 large eggs
1/4 Cup mild oil
4 Cups water

STEPS
Using the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, anise seed, yeast. Using the mixer’s bread hook attachment, mix in eggs.

In a sauce pan, heat the oil and water together, being careful not to over-heat, until pan begins to simmer.

With the mixer running at low speed, slowly add the warm liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Once the oil and water have been completely added, increase mixer speed to medium. Knead the dough with the mixer’s dough hook until it looks as though 3/4 of the flour mixture has been incorporated into the dough.

Transfer dough to a clean, lightly floured working surface and continue kneading by hand until all the flour is worked in, which may take up to 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set bowl in a warm area and allow dough to rise, undisturbed, for about 1-1/2 hours.

Divide the risen dough in half. Keep one half of the batch covered in the greased bowl while you work with the other half.

Take a piece piece of dough the size of a ping-pong ball, and roll between your hands into a “snake” 18-inches long. Cut the “snake” into three evenly-sized pieces. Use your hands to shape each piece of dough into a ring, pressing the ends together. Transfer dough rights to a baking sheet that you have lined with a clean kitchen towel.

Once the first half of the dough has been shaped, bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove, and preheat the oven to 350°F.  Arrange two more baking sheets near the stove, lining one with a clean kitchen towel.

Pop a few of the shaped taralli into the pot of boiling water. As soon as they pop back up to the surface, use a slotted spoon to transfer the cookies to the unlined baking sheet, then to the towel-lined cookie sheet, to absorb any excess water.

Place the boiled taralli on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, taking care to leave about 1 inch of space between the cookies to “poof” up as they bake.

Bake for 12 minutes at 350°F, flip the cookies, and bake an additional 12 minutes.

Transfer baked cookies from the baking sheet to a wire cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before enjoying.

Savory Taralli taste great along with cured meats, fine cheeses, or pickled vegetables.)