Simit is a popular ring-shaped bread from Turkey. It has a crunchy and lightly sweet crust that is usually studded with sesame seeds. Serve plain with a cup of coffee or a mix of veggies, cheese or preserves. DF| EF | V
This beautiful ring-shaped bread is a popular street food in Turkey. The first time I came across this was on a friend’s travel diary. There are simit vendors in every street. It can be your grab and go breakfast or snack. Add a few veggies and cheese to the mix and you can make it into a light meal.
Just another bagel?
Simit is often referred to as Turkish bagel. They both look circular but that is where the resemblance ends. Simit is more like a ring with a crunchier crust and chewy insides. There are differences in the way it is made too. Bagels are boiled first and then baked while simit is just dipped in thinned fruit molasses before baking.
How is simit made
Simit traces back its origins to 16th century. The classic version is made with flour, water, yeast, oil salt, and molasses. The proofed dough is shaped and dipped in a solution of molasses and water. After draining the excess liquid off from the dough, it is rolled in sesame seeds or your choice of nuts or seeds. These are traditionally baked in hot stone ovens and come out with a dark crusty exterior and soft and chewy interior.
If you live in Istanbul, you probably would never make it unless you are a baker.
The molasses used is fruit molasses – like grape or pomegranate molasses. These are thick liquids with incredible flavor and light sweetness. Thin the molasses with water to give a light coating to simit. It helps the seeds adhere to the crust and the crust becomes nicely browned and crunchy as well.
If fruit molasses is not available use regular molasses or thinned honey or caramel or maple syrup. Just be mindful that the choice will alter the browning and the taste a little.
How to store
As with all homemade breads simit is also very perishable. It tastes best the same day and can stay fresh at temperature for a day or so. Wrap in a cloth or brown paper bag and keep in your breadbox. The max I have had it before the taste deteriorated was 3 days. For longer storage it is best to freeze them as soon as the bread is cooled.
How to serve
I love these plain when they are fresh out of the oven. For a traditional take serve with feta cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes. Kids love these with nut or fruit speeds.
- 4 C All purpose or Bread Flour , plus little more as needed
- 1 Tbsp Yeast or 1 pkt
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 ¼ C Water Divided Use
- 11/4 Tsp Fine Sea Salt (8g)
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- ½ C Water
- 2 Tbsp Grape Molasses Notes
- ½ C Sesame seeds
Activate the yeast
- Heat 1 ¼ C of water till it is just warm to touch (100 – 110 F).
- Mix 1 tbsp sugar with ¼ C water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 10 minutes until the yeast is bloomed and the mix is bubbly.
Make the dough
- By handMix 4 C flour and salt together. Make a well in the middle and add the activated yeast, oil and ½ c of water. Start mixing the flour and water together. Add more of the remaining water as needed and continue kneading. After about 10 minutes of kneading the dough should feel soft and supple.
- By machine.Add ¾ C of water, activated yeast liquid, oil, 4 C four, and salt into the mixer bowl. Set the mixer on low and mix for 30 seconds. Most of the flour will be mixed in at this point. Scrape the sides if needed and knead for 1 to 2 minutes. If needed add more of the water and knead for an additional minute or 2 until the dough formed feels soft and supple.
Bulk ferment or First Rise
- Form into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl. Turn the dough so that all sides of the dough are coated with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk – about 1 hour.
- Punch down the dough and divide into 10 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into 24-inch-long ropes. Fold each rope in half and twist – as you twist the ropes tend to stretch a bit more (see shaping video).
- Bring the ends of the twisted rope together into a ring and pinch the ends to close.
- Repeat with all the pieces
- Mix the molasses and water in a shallow pan like a pie dish. Place the shaped simit in the molasses solution. Flip to coat all sides with the solution. Gently take out allowing the excess moisture to drain out. Place it on the sesame seeds and flip to coat all sides.
Rise and bake
- Arrange on the baking sheets. Keep covered and let rise in warm place for 20 to 30 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake the risen simits for around 15 minutes (ovens vary, so check these around 12-minute mark) until browned.
- Remove from the oven and cool on rack.
- Use high protein AP Flour or bread flour.
- Grape or pomegranate molasses are usually used. When not available substitute regular molasses or even honey
- Check the video for shaping
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.
Before I forget this bread is available in many other parts of the region. You might find these referred to as gevrek, bokegh, or koulouri and sesame seeds replaced with sunflower seeds or poppy seeds.