Taralli are small, doughnut shaped biscuits that are ubiquitously served alongside your aperitivo in Puglia. They are plain, almost pastry like, and sometimes flavoured with chilli, fennel seed or black pepper. And strangely addictive. Available in every bar, bakery and supermarket, why would you bother to make your own? Because we can. And so that you can enjoy them when you’re not in Puglia.
- 500g flour
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 150ml olive oil
- 200ml white wine
- optional: 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds, chilli flakes or black pepper
- essential: somebody who’s company you enjoy, to share the work.
Makes about 150 taralli (that will be eaten by six people in half an hour with a couple of bottles of wine).
Stir the salt through the flour then add the oil and wine and mix together until they bind to form a dough. Knead thoroughly for about five minutes until the dough is smooth. This can all be done in a food processor if you prefer, but be careful not to overwork it. If you are using the spices, knead them into the dough. You could split the dough into pieces and add different flavours. Put the dough in a bowl and cover. Leave to rest for at least half an hour.
Divide the dough into pieces, then roll into sausages with the diameter of a fat cigar. Cut these into slices about 1cm thick. You want to end up with pieces about the size of a stock cube. Roll these small pieces into another sausage, this time the size of a skinny cigarette. They should be about 5cm long. Wrap this around your little finger and seal to form a ring, then slip it off onto a board. Repeat. Over and over.
Bring a large pan of slightly salted water to the boil. Drop about eight taralli into the water, trying not to put them on top of eachother. After a couple of minutes they will float to the top – remove them with a slotted spoon and put the next eight in. Repeat with all the taralli. Leave the taralli for a few minutes to dry off, then put them on to baking trays and into the oven. Bake them for 25 – 30 minutes, or until they are crispy all the way through and lightly golden. You may have to test a few to make sure that they are properly cooked. Keep an eye on them as they can burn quickly.
They will store well in an air-tight container, or enjoy immediately with an aperitivo.