Semolina Rolls with Golden Raisins, Fennel, and Pine Nuts

With their light interior and crunchy crust, these rolls are a great addition to a mixed bread basket. Tasting noticeably (though not assertively) of licorice-flavored fennel, they get a hint of sweetness from their golden raisins, and rich nuttiness from pine nuts.

Prep
25 mins
Bake
15 to 20 mins
Total
15 hrs 40 mins
Yield
24 rolls
Semolina Rolls with Golden Raisins, Fennel, and Pine Nuts

Instructions

  1. To make the starter: Combine the semolina, water, and yeast, stirring everything together thoroughly. Cover and let rest at cool room temperature (68°F to 70°F) overnight, or for about 12 to 16 hours.

  2. To make the dough: Combine the starter, semolina, cornmeal, yeast, salt, olive oil, and water, mixing and kneading to make a soft, smooth dough. Do this by hand; using a stand or hand mixer; or in your bread machine, set on the dough cycle.

  3. Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly greased bowl, and let it rise for about 60 to 90 minutes, until it's very puffy; it should double in bulk.

  4. Gently deflate the dough, and knead in the fennel seeds, pine nuts, and golden raisins.

  5. Divide the dough into 24 pieces, and round each piece into a ball. Drop the balls into a shallow pan with some semolina, and roll them around to coat.

  6. Space the balls on a baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2" between them. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic, and let them rise for about 2 hours, until they're puffy.

  7. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 400°F.

  8. Spray the rolls with lukewarm water, and place the pan in the oven. Bake the rolls for about 15 to 20 minutes, until they're golden brown.

  9. Remove the rolls from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Store well-wrapped for several days at room temperature; freeze for longer storage.