Yeast-raised fritters of wild fennel
Mix the flour with some of the water in a mixer with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a big spoon until the water is absorbed.
Stir in the yeast then add the remaining water a little at a time until completely absorbed. Mix in the beer until the dough/batter is homogeneous. It will be a thick batter or runny dough, depending on how you look at it.
Add the salt and mix for another 5-7 minutes or so until the gluten develops, and strands form when the beater is lifted. Add the fennel towards the end of the last mixing phase.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until the dough has risen noticeably. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
About 2-3 hours before you plan to fry the fritters, take the bowl out of the refrigerator and put it somewhere, if not warm, draft-free.
Heat at least 2 inches/5cm of oil in a sturdy pan, to about 325-350 degrees F (170-180C), or until a small drop of dough sizzles excitedly, but not violently, when you drop it in.
Using two spoons (one to dip in the batter and one to slide it off into the oil), drop teaspoonfuls of the dough into the hot oil, until you’ve got a not-too-crowded layer – they will expand as they cook.
Use a fork or slotted spoon to break apart fritters that stick together and turn them over once golden on the underside. Cook about 2-3 minutes per side until golden all over.
Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer the fritters to a cooling rack set over a tray or a piece of tinfoil. Keep an eye on your oil temperature – you want your fritters to be golden, not brown, outside and fully cooked and fluffy inside. Repeat with the remaining dough until no more remains.
Serve the fritters immediately.
These fritters are great as a snack, antipasto or rustic secondo with a salad – maybe even a cooked dandelion salad you gathered while you were gathering fennel! Or, later in the season, a traditional tomato salad with red onion and capers.