by B loves B
Often likened to a “Turkish bagel,” this circular bread is really so much more than that. Crunchy, chewy, and with a delightful sesame flavor, these rings are great for a quick breakfast, or make a beautiful addition to a larger Mediterranean brunch spread. If you journey to Istanbul, where this traditional bread dates back to 1525, you’ll find these rings sold in bakeries and street carts. In some neighborhoods, a simit seller still comes around in the morning. Hearing the call of the seller from the street, the hungry buyer beckons the seller from their window and lets down a basket tied to a string with money that will be traded for a basket full of fresh sesame rings.
For the Dough (makes 8):
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar, honey, or grape molasses (pekmez)
3 1/3 cups (400 grams) bread or all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the Coating:
Toasted sesame seeds, about 2 cups
2 tablespoons grape molasses (pekmez)
3/4 cup water
Step 1: Activate the yeast
Combine water with sweetener of your choice (honey, sugar, or grape molasses). Add yeast and let sit for five minutes to activate.
Step 2: Make the dough
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add in activated yeast mixture and olive oil and mix by hand or with a stand mixer. Knead by hand on a floured surface or with a dough hook until dough is smooth (and a little sticky), about 5 minutes should do.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest for an hour, until dough has doubled in size.
Step 3: Shape the simit
Punch down dough and separate into 8 equally sized pieces. I find it helpful to use a scale if you have one, to make sure the pieces are as even as possible. You will now begin forming the shape of the simit.*
Divide each piece in half again. Roll each piece into a long rope, about 12” long. Starting from one end, twist the ropes around each other to form a braid, then connect the two ends together. It helps to lift the ring and give the end a gentle roll to connect the dough.
*The way I form the rings is not necessarily the most traditional way, but as a novice simit baker, I’ve found it to be the most surefire way to produce the best looking result. You can also form a single rope, twist it, and join both ends together. This is a great video for further reference on shaping.
Step 4: Coat with sesame seeds
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Dissolve grape molasses into 3/4 cup of water, and spread out sesame seeds on a plate. Fully dip the simit into the grape molasses water, and then coat on all sides with sesame seeds and place on lined baking sheet. Repeat this with each piece of dough until all of the simit are formed. You can also stretch the rings out a bit in this step if you want to create a larger circumference.
Cover them and proof for about 15 minutes before turning on your oven.
Step 5: Bake and enjoy
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees F, until they are a nice rich brown color on the outside.