Having lived in the US for more than 15 years, one of the foods that I miss the most is Simit. If you have ever been to Turkey, you know that simit is very similar to American bagel in that Turks usually eat it in the morning with (feta) cheese. Here, after several trial and errors, I perfected a the simit recipe with a step-by-step how-to video to guide you through the steps to make it in your own kitchen.
It has been close to a year since I have been home. When I say “home”, I mean my real home in Turkey.
For some reason, after all these years living abroad, my home has always been there where I grew up.
Though I love venturing out into different cultures and places, sometimes I miss it so much it hurts. Lately that is how I am feeling.
And whenever I feel that way, I do what I do best: I cook.
Realizing that I cannot just pick up and go there, I decided to bring “there” over here by making the most popular breakfast bread in Turkey – simit – in my own kitchen.
Simit is a sesame-bathed, circular Turkish bread. It is similar to an American bagel but much thinner, crunchier, and with less crumb.
I think it is safe to say that simit is our version of a “fast food” breakfast. If you have ever been to Istanbul, you would know. It is not unusual to see men selling simit in their mobile stoles or simply in a tray on their heads on the streets of Istanbul. Since it is very affordable, usually 1 Turkish Lira (less than 0.50 cents), it is the breakfast choice of many people in Turkey.
Usually paired with feta cheese, freshly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, olives, and most importantly, with freshly brewed Turkish tea, simit has been a favorite bread of mine for as long as I can remember.
When I told a friend of mine back home that I was making simit, she laughed at me saying, “Who would make simit home?” She could not possibly understand what I have been going through here. Rightfully so… because back home simit is in abundance. You could find street vendors selling it everywhere. Just go out on the street and you could easily find one.
Not so much here… especially on Virgin Gorda!!
To tell you the truth, this was not my first attempt. I had tried making simit at home a couple of times in the past. None of my attempts turned out like the simits we have back in Turkey.
I’ve since learned that the most important thing to a delicious simit is having the right ratio of crust to crumb. Though it is a crusty bread, it has got to have a soft crumb. None of the recipes I tried in the past gave me that. I am not sure if it is true, but somebody once told me that it could be because of the difference in the yeast. Meaning, the yeast we use back home might be slightly different than what we have here.
Things changed when my friend Dalya told me about this recipe. She said she made it, and it tasted exactly how it should be. She found it on a food blog that was written by a Turkish home cook living in the U.S.
I was hopeful this time, mainly because it was made with the flour and yeast sold in U.S. supermarkets.
It was a success at my first try. The taste of this simit is exactly how it is back home. If there could be such a thing, it is better.
First dipped in molasses and then in a bed of roasted sesame seeds, this simit tastes heavenly. With every bite you get to taste the buttery and nutty notes of sesame seeds generously blended in the crusty bread.
On a side note, there are a couple of important things you need to pay attention to while making this “foolproof” simit recipe.
First, be generous with sesame seeds. 3 cups may sound like a lot of sesame seeds but it is barely enough. Second, during the baking process keep a close eye on it. The original recipe suggested longer baking times but it ended up taking much less time to bake them in my oven. Baking times may vary depending on your location, altitude, oven, etc. Last but not least, if you want them to look similar to one another in size, use a ruler to measure each string.
Or better yet, watch how I made it.
This recipe yields 10 simits. If I am not planning on sharing them with my neighbors or friends, I usually place the leftovers in an airtight container and freeze them. The best part of it is that when you are ready to eat, you do not even need to defrost them. Simply take them out of the freezer, place on a baking sheet, and bake in a 400 F degree pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes. It will be just as fresh and delicious as the first time.
Paired with feta cheese, olives, and Turkish tea, it is nothing short of what I would be having if I were home now. Luckily, my friend Chrissann loved it so much, we made a day out of it in her beach house.
Now, she is hooked as well.Print
Having lived in the US for more than 15 years, one of the foods that I miss the most is Simit. If you have ever been to Turkey, you know that simit is very similar to American bagel in that Turks usually eat it in the morning with (feta) cheese. Here, after several trial and errors, I perfected a “foolproof” simit recipe with a step-by-step how-to video to guide you through the steps to make it in your own kitchen.
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 10
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Turkish
- 1 cup water, at 110 F degrees (43 Celsius)
- 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons table salt
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 5 +1 cups (25 +5 ounces) all purpose flour, divided (additional 1 cup is for flouring kitchen counters)
- 3 cups (12 ounces) sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- Whisk water, heavy cream, yeast, and sugar in a medium bowl. Cover it with stretch film. Let it to sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes for the yeast to get activated.
- Take out one of the oven racks, cover it with aluminum foil. Set aside.
- Place 5 cups of flour, salt, oil, egg, and yeast mixture in a large mixing bowl, and hand-mix until combined. Transfer the dough to a well-floured kitchen counter and knead by hand to form a smooth and elastic ball. This may take 15 -17 minutes.
- Wet a kitchen towel with hot tab water and cover place it over the dough. Let it sit on the kitchen counter until it doubles in size, 30-45 minutes.
- In the mean time, toast the sesame seeds in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until they turn golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Place them in a shallow pan and set aside to cool.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F degrees.
- Roll the dough into a cylinder of 20 inches (51 cm.)
- Cut the dough into 10 equal parts.
- Roll each part into a 40-inch (102 cm.) long strand. Fold the string into two equal links and then twist it by rolling in opposite directions one over another.
- Meet the ends to form a circle and pinch to joint. Place it on a lightly floured surface. (I used a baking sheet) Cover with a kitchen towel to prevent from drying.
- Repeat the same process until all pieces are completed.
- Mix 3 tablespoons of molasses with 2 tablespoons of water in a pie plate. Dip each simit in the molasses&water mixture and then dip in roasted sesame seeds ensuring that they are fully coated with the seeds.
- Place 6 simits on the rack that was covered with aluminum foil and place it in the upper middle rack of the oven. Bake for 12 minutes.
- Raise the temperature to 500 F Degrees and bake for 10-12 more minutes.
- Repeat the same baking process for the rest of the simits.
- Let them cool for at least 10 minutes on the counter. Serve.
Update on November 9th, 2014:
I made this recipe yesterday and learned something. I am sharing it with you with the hopes that you won’t make the same mistake that I did. As I was short in time, I didn’t want to wait the heavy cream to come to room temperature. Instead, I mixed it with the water and microwaved them together for 45 seconds. I added the sugar and yeast into the mixture. But it didn’t work. For some reason, the yeast did not get activated. Thinking that it may work I still used it, but it ended up being much harder than it should be.Therefore, it is important that the heavy cream is in room temperature and water is at least 110 F degrees for the yeast to get activated. When you mix them the temperature of the mixture goes down to 95-98 degrees and that is fine.
This recipe is adapted from here.