These rolls are traditional in French Tunisia. You can make this by hand but a stand mixer will do a fine and much easier job. Much of the prep time is rising time.
- 2 1⁄2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
- 1 cup warm water, divided
- 2 large eggs, divided
- 1 egg yolk
- 1⁄3 cup oil
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons rose water (or orange flower water)
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 1⁄4 cups unbleached flour, divided (22.3 ounces)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 4 tablespoons sesame seeds, divided
- 3⁄4-1 cup golden raisin
- 1 orange, grated rind of
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons nigella seeds or 1 1⁄2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
- In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and one-fourth cup warm water. Set aside until the yeast begins to foam, 5 to 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs, oil, rosewater or orange flower water, vanilla, remaining three-fourths cup warm water and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, place 41/2 cups (19.1 ounces) flour, sugar, fennel seeds, 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, raisins and grated peel. Mix briefly to combine. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast and egg mixtures. Mix on medium-low speed, adding the remaining flour as necessary, and mixing until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Stop occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The dough should still be slightly sticky. (The dough can also be mixed by hand; combine the ingredients and mix as listed above until the dough comes together, then knead; the dough will require additional kneading time.).
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead 5 minutes; the dough will be ready when it springs back quickly when poked. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 11/2 hours.
- While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Punch down the dough and set aside for 5 minutes to rest. Divide the dough into 12 to 14 pieces, and roll each piece between the palms of the hand into smooth ovals about 3 inches long. Place the ovals onto the lined sheet leaving 11/2 to 2 inches between each (if your baking sheet is small, you may need to use 2).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg yolk with the honey, and brush this over each of the ovals. Sprinkle over the remaining sesame seeds and nigella (or black sesame seeds). Cover the ovals loosely with a piece of plastic wrap and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to rise, then bake until golden-brown, about 25 minutes.