Recipe made by: Avichai Ozur Bass
Based on Ozlem’s Turkish table (http://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2012/02/simit-sesame-encrusted-bread-rings/)
Simit, pronounced “see- meet,” is a Turkish bread which is essentially a lighter, fluffier cross between a bagel and a soft pretzel. In Turkey and some former parts of the Ottoman empire, they’re sold on every street corner, and they’re what you buy if you’re looking for a fast, easy breakfast- on- the- go. Basically, simit sellers are a Turkish answer to Duncan Dunts or Chris Pees Cream (both completely original brand names– please no one sue me,) but their product isn’t made out of pure sugar. Simits also happen to be impressive- looking, parev, delicious, and (most importantly for me,) pretty much idiot- proof. The original recipe from Ozlem’s Turkish Table was my first bread recipe, and was extremely easy to make. Traditional simit uses grape molasses, or pekmez, to make the sesame seeds stick to the rolls, but this can easily be substituted for honey or a jam without much fruit in it. Bread can be daunting for beginners, so I’ve included like to rise bread with sourdough starter, but I know some people don’t have it handy, so I’m including a sourdough conversion for the recipe at the end.
Prep time: 40 mins active, 1- ish hour rise. Bake time: 18 mins
Makes 10 simits
4 cups flour
½ Tbsp salt
1 ½ cup water
2 Tbsp yeast
⅓ cup water
½ cup honey, smooth jelly without fruit chunks, or pekmez
1 cup sesame seeds
- Put the yeast in a bowl with ¼ of lukewarm water and a pinch of sugar. Wait 8 minutes. If it’s bubbling, you’re good, move on to the next step. Otherwise, throw out the yeast (it’s probably dead) and start again.
- Mix all of the remaining ingredients listed under “dough,” including the remaining 1 ¼ cup water, and then add your bubbling yeast mixture. Use your hands for the mixing until you’ve formed a nice, even dough.
- Knead dough for around 15 minutes. For less experienced bread- makers, a good kneading method is to flatten out your dough and then fold it in half, and repeat that motion over and over, changing the direction of the fold each time. Kneading is the most annoying part of making bread, but it’s very important. Your dough is like a balloon which is going to rise by filling with the carbon dioxide the yeast breathes out when it eats flour. Kneading is essentially strengthening the rubber of the balloon. A good way to tell whether or not you’re done kneading is to hold your dough up to a light and gently stretching it. If you can see the light through the dough before it rips, then congrats! You’re done kneading. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re done kneading, you’re not. Keep kneading.
- Form the dough into a ball and put it on a large plate. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Leave it in a warm place (like on top of your fridge,) until it’s doubled in size. This should take about 40 minutes. If you’re not sure how to check how much your dough has grown, you can use this trick. When you first form the dough into a ball, put it in the middle of a dinner plate, and flatten it out a little until it covers all but the last inch and a half of the plate’s rim. When the dough covers the whole plate (besides like a quarter inch on the rim,) it’s ready. Remember: over- risen dough can collapse in the oven, so don’t let it rise too much.
- Preheat oven to 425 farenheit.
Now for the fun part: shaping the simit.
- Start by putting parchment paper on two big baking sheets and dusting a large counter or work surface with flour.
- Divide the dough into 10 roughly equal pieces.
- Roll a piece of dough on the work surface, starting from the middle, until it resembles a long, fat, piece of spaghetti, the length of your arm.
- Next, fold the noodle in half. Press the two loose ends together and twist the whole thing so that it is tightly twisted, but before it starts bunching up.
- Take the twisty string of dough you’ve made (it should be about a foot long,) and press the two ends together so that you form the twisty ring shape from the picture. Roll the stuck- together ends on the work surface to seal them shut.
- Repeat for each piece of dough.
Now you’re going to coat the dough rings in sesame seeds.
- Mix the honey, jam, or pekmez with the water you’ve set aside in a bowl big enough to comfortably dip your rings of dough.
- Put the sesame seeds in a wide bowl, too.
- Dip a dough ring in the water mixture, then flip it over and dip again on the other side
- Dip into the sesame seeds until completely coated.
- Repeat for all the dough- rings.
- Put on the baking sheets and allow to rise again for 20 minutes, uncovered.
- Bake for 15- 18 minutes until golden brown.
For Sourdough, change “dough” section to:
3 ¼ cup flour
¾ cup water
1 ½ cup liquid sourdough starter
½ tbsp salt
Do the same thing, but add around 20 minutes to rise time.