Part cracker, part bread, taralli are little Italian pretzel rings common in the southern part of the boot. They can be either sweet or savory, with a crunchy exterior that gives way to a slight chewiness in the center. I took these savory, fennel seed–studded taralli to a wine party, as the Italians would do, and my friends agreed that they are the ideal snack to accompany a crisp glass of rosé on a spring evening. Ingredients: - 2 tsp active dry yeast - ½ cup/120 ml warm water (between 100 and 115°F/38 and 45°C) - 1 tsp sugar - 3½ cups/440 g unbleached all-purpose flour - ½ cup/120 ml dry white wine - ¼ cup/60 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the bowl - 2 tsp fine sea salt, such as fleur de sel or sel gris - 1½ tbsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder - ½ tsp coarsely ground pepper - 4 qt/3.8 L water 2 tbsp fine sea salt, such as fleur de sel or sel gris - 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp water makes 48 rings Directions: 1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl. Add the sugar, stirring until it is dissolved. Allow the yeast to bloom until it is foamy, 5 to 7 minutes. 2. Add the flour, wine, olive oil, salt, fennel seeds, and pepper to the yeast mixture and stir to form a shaggy mass. Attach the bowl and the dough hook to the stand mixer and begin kneading on medium-low speed. 3. After about 1 minute the dough will form a smooth ball. The dough should be quite firm and may be slightly tacky, but not sticky. (If it is sticky, add a little more flour, about 1 tbsp at a time, and knead it in until the dough is smooth. If the dough is too dry to come together, add more water, 1 tsp at a time.) Continue kneading the dough on medium speed until it is elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Alternatively, turn the shaggy dough out onto an unfloured work surface and knead it by hand. 4. Choose a bowl that will be large enough to contain the dough after it has doubled in size, and grease it lightly with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. 5. Set the dough aside at room temperature (in a warm spot) to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1½ hours. 6. Line two 12-by-17-in/30.5-by-43-cm rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. 7. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and press it down to deflate. Cut it into six equal portions, and divide each portion into eight small chunks of dough. Work with one chunk of dough at a time and keep the rest covered with a damp, clean kitchen towel. 8. Pat a chunk of dough down with your fingertips, and then roll it to form a little cylinder. Roll out the cylinder into a rope that is 12 in/30.5 cm long, working from the center of the dough out to the ends and applying gentle pressure to taper them slightly. 9/ Form the rope into a ring by overlapping the dough about ¼ in/6 mm from the ends and gently pinching them together. 10. Place the taralle on one of the prepared baking sheets and cover it with a damp towel. Repeat this process with the remaining dough, arranging the taralli on a baking sheet at least ¼ in/6 mm apart and covering them with a damp towel. 11. When the first baking sheet is filled with twenty-four taralli, transfer it to the refrigerator while you shape the remaining dough to prevent the first batch from overproofing. 12. When all the taralli are shaped, let them rise, covered, at warm room temperature until they have increased in size by about half, 15 to 20 minutes. (The taralli can be refrigerated at this point, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 8 hours before dipping and baking them.) 13. At least 20 minutes before baking, do two things: First, position one rack in the upper third and another rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 325°F/165°C/gas 3; second, prepare the boiling water for dipping. 14. Bring the water to a gentle simmer in a large pot. Working in eight batches, use a large skimmer to gently drop the taralli in the water. Leave them for about 20 seconds, carefully turning once after 10 seconds. 15. Remove the taralli from the water, drain, and return them to the baking sheets, spacing them out at least ½ in/12 mm apart. If the ends come detached, simply pinch them back together. Repeat with the remaining dough. 16. Brush the taralli with the egg wash just to lightly coat the tops. 17. Bake the taralli until they are light golden brown and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. To test for doneness, remove one from the oven and break it in half. If the center is still a little chewy, continue baking. If the color is beginning to darken but the taralli are not done inside, remove the trays from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature while you reduce the oven temperature to 300°F/150°C/gas 2. Return the taralli to the oven to finish hardening. Test one after about 10 minutes, and in 5-minute increments after that. 18. Transfer the taralli to a cooling rack. They are best eaten the day they are made. Store any remaining taralli for a few days in an airtight container. They will become a little soft, so crisp them in a 325°F/165°C/gas 3 oven for a few minutes.