Fennel rolls or muffuliette are a Sicilian specialty. They are traditionally served on St. Martin’s Day,
November 11, and are stuffed with either cheese or sausage and served with a “novello" wine (new
wine) that is just ready to drink. The dough for these rolls is dry rather than sticky. The baked rolls
have a dense interior and a slightly crispy crust.
(Makes four 4 to 5-inch rolls)
1 package (2-1/4 teaspoon) dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water, (105 to 115 degrees F.), divided
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
Olive oil for brushing the rolls
Sprinkle the yeast into 1 cup of the warm water. Add the sugar. Allow to rest
for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and fennel seeds. Add the yeast
mixture to the flour. Stir to combine the ingredients; add the remaining water if
the mixture is too dry.
Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured surface. Knead to make a smooth
dough. Form the dough into a ball. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise for 1-1/2 to 2
hours or until almost double in size.
Punch the dough down and divide it into 4 equal size pieces. Shape the
pieces into a round roll. Place the rolls on a greased baking sheet. Cover the
rolls with a kitchen towel and let them rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Brush the top of each roll with some olive oil. With a sharp knife, cut a cross
into the top of each roll. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rolls are golden
brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet.