These ring-shaped Turkish breads are a little nutty, a little chewy, and just slightly sweet!
Well, Reader, this past week we got our first real snowfall of the season. It stuck to the ground, it piled, it drifted, it didn’t get above 15 degrees for a couple days. It was enough that I decided to work from home for a day and a half, especially since things haven’t yet picked up after the Christmas lull, which gave me the opportunity to do some baking (always a good thing).
While the wind blew outside and the snow fell, practically hiding my little hatchback car, I took a trip to Turkey via my kitchen. Or really, to Berlin, since most of my knowledge of Turkish street food comes from Berlin’s massive Turkish community–though I have been to Turkey as well, and can attest to the authenticity of this recipe. You can buy simit, a sesame seed-enctrusted Turkish bagel-like bread, from Turkish bakeries, on the street, or at markets all over cities in Germany and Austria with large Turkish populations, as well as (of course) all over Turkey. If I’m not mistaken, I first had simit from the Turkish market in Berlin back in 2011. That was before the blog, but you can read about my return trip to Berlin, and the Turkish market, in 2014 here.
But back to simit: they resemble bagels in shape and because they are both variations on a basic yeast dough, but there are some differences. Simit are not boiled, as bagels traditionally are, and they are always twisted. The inside isn’t overly dense or chewy. The outside should be a deep golden brown, and thanks to a quick dip in molasses or syrup, is slightly sweet. All the simit I’ve seen are slightly larger and thinner than your average bagel, though that can naturally be changed to fit one’s own preferences when made at home. Mine were slightly larger than most I’ve seen sold commercially, but that’s because I halved the recipe and chose to only make four bagels instead of five. However, if you want to eat these like bagels, I think the slightly larger size is better–they definitely make for good sandwiches.
makes 10, or halve the recipe for 4-5
- pinch granulated sugar
- 3 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup + 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup pekmez (Turkish fruit molasses) or maple syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup sesame seeds
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, yeast, and 1/4 warm water. Let stand 5-10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate and become bubbly. Stir in flour and remaining 1 1/2 cups warm water and knead, by hand or with the dough hook attachment of your mixer, for about 7 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF and line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a shallow dish (like a pie pan) combine the 1/4 cup water and pekmez or syrup. Place sesame seeds on a large plate.
Punch down the dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 10 evenly-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a long snake, fold in half making a loop, and twist. Tuck the ends into the loop to form a ring. You can check out this recipe for photos of how to shape simit. Dip into the syrup/water mixture to completely cover, then toss in the sesame seeds. Repeat with each piece of dough. Let sit 20 minutes.
Bake 15-20 minutes until deep golden brown and cooked through. Best eaten the same day.