1 1/2 cups medium rye or dark rye flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 package Fleischmann’sÂ® Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup molasses
1 teaspoon fennel
TOPPING 1/4 cup butter -- melted Fennel seeds
Sift the flours, cocoa and salt into a large bowl. Heat the water in a microwavable container for 30 seconds on HIGH and add the yeast. Stir the shortening, molasses and egg into the yeast mixture. Pour into the dry ingredients and add the fennel seeds. Stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball and put into a lightly greased bowl. Turn to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Leave in a warm place to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours or put the bowl in the microwave oven and heat on MEDIUM for 1 minute. Leave to stand for 10 minutes. Repeat the process until the dough has doubled in bulk.
To shape the dough punch it down, turn it out of the bowl and knead lightly for 2 minutes. Divide into 16 pieces and shape into round rolls and knots. Place the rolls in a circle on microwave baking sheets. Cover loosely with greased wrap and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until the rolls have doubled in size. The microwave rising method may also be used.
Melt the butter for 30 seconds on HIGH and brush over the surface of the rolls. Sprinkle on the fennel seeds and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 minutes, turning the rolls over once during cooking. Cook in 2 batches. When the rolls are cooked, transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm.