In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and let stand 5 minutes to soften. Stir in salad oil, beer, salt and fennel seeds. With a heavy-duty mixer or wooden spoon, beat in 3 1/2 c. flour until dough is elastic (about 5 minutes).
On a board or pastry cloth, spread remaining 1 c. flour and turn out dough. Knead, using this technique: lift edge of dough, coated well with flour, and fold toward center, avoiding contact with sticky part of dough. Continue folding toward center and kneading, turning dough as you work, until it is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl; turn dough to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (1 to 1 1/4 hours).
On a floured surface, knead just to expel air. Pinch off lumps (1 1/2" in diameter) and roll each into a strip that is 18" long. Cut each strip in half.
Set wire racks on baking sheets and arrange strips across racks, 1/2" apart. Brush strips with egg-water mixture. Bake at 325 F. for about 35 minutes or until evenly browned. Serve hot, or cool on wire racks.
From "Sunset Italian Cookbook" by the editors of Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine. Menlo Park, CA: Lane Publishing Company, 1981. Pg. 90. ISBN 0-376-02465-8. Posted by Cathy Harned.