I moved to the desert, this was not in the cards. It is not like we moved to Summit County, at least not yet. There is a supposed 300 days of sunshine here in the south east corner of Washington. I think they are just trying to get people to move here.
Everyone in their right mind gets excited form snow and then makes a mad dash for the mountains. It seems like a great way to spend the endless dark days between fall and spring. Mountains of any kind are good for the soul, anytime of year. The thought of sliding down a hillside scares me, my hair stands on end. Really, seriously. I am scared stiff to ski. I might be the only person in the world to feel this way.
I comfort myself with baked goods and a healthy dose of yoga. It is nice.
My camera (my fantastic early Christmas present, thanks J!) is keeping me busy!
Instead I pass the winter squirreled away in my humble little abode. I craft, write, read, and bake. I channel my Grandma. I love it. The time slips away, my mind spins with possibilities and I learn. I am learning to follow directions, learn that if I am actually going to have true success baking I must use a digital scale when baking, I learn patience and the value of quality ingredients.
A quality olive oil will make these nibbles shine.
On this snow chilled weekend I found self on Ilva's blog, Lucullian Delights, a fellow baker, who is part of an on line collective called Bread Baking Babes. This month's challenge were an Italian treat called taralli pugliesi.
Fennel is key. I would use at least 2 teaspoons salt next time.
Lets be honest.
I have no idea how to pronounce these little nibbles, I have never had them before, I have never even heard of them. It was a challenge that took a better part of a day to say the least. I followed through and rolled out every last cracker circle thingy, boiled them and then baked them to a crisp. I was skeptical the entire time, thinking I was spending this huge amount of time and nothing felt right - I had no idea what right was supposed to be.
Fresh cracked pepper to add a bit of bite. Go for it, grind and combine!
These are no cinch to whip out but once they cool and you find yourself eating handfuls, I see where they get their appeal.
There is still time to play along with the Bread Baking Babes. Give it a whirl!
adapted from Anna Maria Gostti Della Salda's monumental food bible Le ricette regionali italiane
1 kg/ 2,2 lb flour, I think she intends AP flour
200 g/ 7 oz extra-virgin olive oil
50 g/ 1,75 oz fennel seeds, optional as you already know
12,5 g/ 0,45 oz (or more if it is cold in your kitchen) fresh yeast and about 5 g/ 0,176 oz instant yeast (they say)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs or the equivalent of dry white wine
Dissolve the yeast in 2 tblsp of tepid water. Mix the yeast water with the lightly whisked eggs and the olive oil.
Mix flour, fennel seeds and salt and then add the liquid. Start working the dough and continue to add small amounts of tepid water until you have a firm but pliable dough.
Start rolling 10-12 cm/ 2-2,5 in long ropes that are as thick as your little finger and pinch the ends together to make an oval. Put the taralli on a parchment paper, cover with a towel and leave them to rest about 20 minutes.
Turn on the oven to 200°C/390°F.
While the taralli rest, bring a biggish pan with water to the boil.
Dump 3-4 taralli at a time in the simmering water and when they surface, take them up and put them to dry on a kitchen towel or a rack.
Put them on baking sheets covered with parchment paper and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes but it is best to try them so that they are properly baked, we don't want them to be soft in the middle!