In a large bowl stir together the first six ingredients (water-fennel seed) until smooth to make the sponge. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour or until doubled.
Stir down the sponge with a wooden spoon and add oil, salt and 3 cups of flour, stirring until combined and smooth.
Stir in remaining flour (1/2 cup at a time) until you have a soft dough.
Place dough onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes or until dough is no longer sticky (you will need to add more flour as you knead the dough).
Grease a large bowl (or I use a large pot) and add dough, turning to grease all sides and then cover bowl (or pot) with plastic wrap. Let dough rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until doubled. Punch down. Let rise until doubled (1 hour).
Grease baking sheets.
Put dough on floured board and knead dough for a minute or two and then divide dough into four pieces.
Working with one piece at a time, knead each piece into a round loaf and then place each round on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour or until doubled. (Optional) With a sharp knife mark an "x" on top of each loaf.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Bake loaves for one hour or until done. To test for doneness tap loaves on bottom and if it sounds hollow loaves are done.