Simit – For Those Who Miss It

Simit

Sigrid from the fabulous “il cavoletto di bruxells” was in Istanbul (where she took great pictures, not only of food, that brought tears to my eyes), and the first thing she asked when she came back was a recipe for simit, the savory sesame rings with just a hint of sweet. Simit is the omnipresent street food in Istanbul, and she seems to have fallen in love with it.

If you live in Turkey, skip this post, go out and buy yourself a simit from the simit-boy. Simit, just like pizza, is one of those foods you shouldn’t attempt at home unless you have no other means of obtaining it. Why? Because, most probably, you don’t have a wood burning stone oven at your home. If you do, like I did for one and a half very happy years in my life (in Liguria), you should bake a pizza or bread everyday!

But I do know how it is when you crave a specific food, so here is a recipe to help you till the next time you go to Turkey; it comes as close as possible to the simit in Istanbul. Go put that teakettle on the stove and then start with it, your tea and the simits will be done at the same time, so quick and easy it is. Oh, have to go buy some kasar cheese, these will be perfect for breakfast!

Note: This recipe yields the street-type, crisp simit; not the soft “pastane” type.

Simit
adapted from various sources
makes 8 – 10 simit rings

prep: 10 mins + 15 min for the dough to rest
bake: ca. 10 mins at 250°C (or as hot as your oven gets)

flour, type 550 (all-purpose/bread flour in the USA, not instant!)*, 1kg
fresh yeast, 10g (or instant yeast 4g or dry yeast 5g)
salt, 2-3 tbsp
water, ca. 550 ml, lukewarm
pekmez, 3 tbsp (or molasses)
sesame, ca. 75 g (use “simit susamı” if you can find, or Japanese roasted sesame “irigoma shiro”, these are darker than the normal white sesame)

Turn your oven heat to maximum. In my oven this is 250°C.

In a big bowl, mix the flour and the salt. Dissolve the yeast in about a cup of the measured lukewarm water. Add the yeasty water to the flour, then start adding the rest of the water, while kneading. You want to achieve the most famous “earlobe” consistency. You may not need all of the water, but also you might need up to 100 ml more than stated. It depends on a lot of factors like your flour, the weather etc., but don’t get discouraged, even a non-baker like me managed this. I needed exactly 550 ml of water. Knead till everything comes together and feels smooth, around 10 minutes. At the end you have an elastic and non-sticky dough. I don’t have a mixer or the like in this apartment, so I kneaded by hand, but you could let the machines do the work as well! Just watch for the consistency. Let the dough stand in a warm place, covered, for 15 minutes.

Sesame seedsIn a small bowl, mix pekmez with 2-3 tbsp of water**. If you can’t find pekmez where you live, use molasses, it is perfectly fit for this recipe. Place your sesame seeds on a shallow plate.

Simit, unbakedDivide the dough into 8 to 10 tennis ball-sized pieces. Push your thumb in the middle to make a hole, then slowly turn the “ring” around, with both hands, in the air, gently kneading and squeezing to enlarge and thin-out the dough to finger thick, while the hole in the middle gets bigger.

Brush the simit rings with the pekmez mixture and then, one by one, dip the rings into the plate with the sesame seeds, so that they are covered all over. Place the rings on a baking sheet*** and bake for ca. 10 minutes, till a darker shade than golden.

* For more on how the different types of flours in Europe and the USA correspond to each other, read this, this and this.

** Some recipes let you make a thinner pekmez mixture (1 tbsp to 1 liter of water) and dip the rings into it. I tried the first simit with this method, but wasn’t happy with the results, the color was too light and the taste was not pronounced enough. Simit is not a sweet, but there should definitely be a sweet undertone which goes perfect with the sesame seeds. Yet other recipes let you boil the rings in this light mixture before baking them, but this results in a softer texture, like a bagel or a “pastane simidi”. For real street-style simit, brushing the rings with slightly diluted pekmez delivered the best results.

*** I froze some rings (fully coated) and will try to bake them later. Will update the post as to how that goes! Update: Freezing makes no problems. Just take the unbaked simit out of the freezer an hour before baking. If you don’t have that time, you could also bake from frozen, but you’ll need to bake longer (check after 20 minutes).

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24 Responses

  1. Ooooooohhhh!!!! greatgreatgreatgreatgreat!!!! It’s gonne be simit time all right!!!
    Thanks so much, Hande, for posting this!! :-))
    (2 things though: what is that soft ‘pastane’ simit-kind you mention?? (can’t help being curious! :-) and, I don’t really know what molasses exactly are – I’ve seem them around in amercan recipies for instance, but I have no idea what an italian/european? alternative could be… any ideas??

  2. Sigrid,
    you are welcome! “pastane” means patisserie, and they also bake a kind of simit, but it is bigger, wider, softer. It is better suited for filling with stuff but is a completely different texture. Pekmez is basically caramelized grape sugar, molasses are made of any kind of sugar (like from barbabietole); both are dark, dense and sweet. Try “sciroppo di melassa” or “melassa nera” in Italy, maybe in a “herboristaria”?

  3. allright, I have to find out about this… I’ll let you know if I find it! ;-)

  4. Woouuuww, I will try the recipe!
    I can get the smell of simit whlie looking the picture! :)

  5. sigrid, molasses i think is mesallassa…in vendita da castroni a cola di rienzo (of course)

    hande, take in account this address Castroni is a shop of national and international food, you can find in almost everything you want

  6. ops, bad mistake…melassa i mean

  7. Enza,
    yes, I have already taken notice of Castroni when we were there in May and written it in my moleskin for the coming times. Although Italian food is my favorite in the world, it is good to have something else every once in a while and it is good to know where I can find French/Mexican/Asian ingredients in Rome. For Italian/Roman stuff I fell in love with Volpetti in Testaccio, che ne dici? Ci hanno lasciato (no, ci hanno fatto!) assaggiare tutto, e le focaccie erano le migliori che mai avuto. Sapendo che abbiamo vissuto per piu di un anno in Liguria, vicino a Genova, questa vuol dire qualcosa, no? Oh my God, how many mistakes did I just make? ,-P

  8. Those are soooooo good! mmmmmmmmm I had that couple of weeks ago for the first time! :))

  9. I am thinking dipped in some strong cardamom coffee…interesting, never heard of it. Thanks :)

  10. Tea,
    where did you have them, did you maybe happen to eat the original in Turkey? You lucky one!
    absintheur,
    actually we never ever eat simit with coffee, let alone cardamom coffee. I wonder why? Maybe because coffee is mostly perceived as a drink to go with sweet stuff. And though simit are brushed with a sweet mixture before baking, they are not really sweet, we eat them with cheese and olives and drink black tea with it!

  11. hande, your italian in better of my english at all.

    I’ve never been in volpetti cause if you live in rome (having three children like me) it’s impossible to join anything!!!
    anyway there are in every area of rome several shops, so i have in my area indians, another shop like castroni (smaller).
    i’ll take in care volpetti too, thanks.

  12. Thanks so much for posting this! I visited Istanbul in September for the first time, and I have been craving these since I left. I hope I can buy molasses here in Germany. I’m still learning what I can and can’t get here….

  13. Lee,
    look for “Melasse or Rübenkraut or Zuckerrübensirup” in German supermarkets to substitute for molasses, which you may find imports of in bigger chains. And if you have a turkish grocery around you, ask for pekmez, which is the real thing to use in this recipe.

  14. [...] Get more information about this from the author here [...]

  15. Hande,
    I’ve been trying for weeks to get Simit right. This morning I tried your recipe, and my wife finally approved.
    Cok tessekurler.
    -Mark

  16. [...] receta la he sacado de aquí dejando más tiempo de fermentación a la masa, aunque esta otra está en la libreta para próximas [...]

  17. Oh my. I can’t tell you how much I miss simit. There’s really nothing like it. Thanks for the delicious photo and post, as usual.

    atinymorsel.wordpress.com

  18. very good but missing. mix pekmez with water and boil it dip simit into boiling mixture for less than 30 seconds than cover with susam and bake it. this is real simit.

    • Ahmet, if you read my post and the recipe carefully, you will see that I have elaborated on this method and wasn’t happy with the results and the texture was not what I was looking for.

  19. [...] super Hande insomma) segnalano una e due eresie di fondo, per cui vi allego anche la sua ricetta assolutamente ortodossa, giusto per completezza di cronaca! (E quindi, questa, mi tocca provarla [...]

  20. Hi Hande. This year I was in Turkey from june to septmeber and I falled in love with this country, with its traditions and its food. I really love Simit and coming back to Italy I really would like to cook by my self. Your recipe was for me very useful and allows me to make wonderful simit, also if they are different from yours as well as from the ones I ate in Turkey. Maybe I only have to improve my self :P
    But really, thanks for your recipe and your advice (especially the one in which you explain the way to make the rings),,,
    I will return reading your posts and your recipes
    Have a good day
    kisses

    Giulia

  21. [...] soprattutto grazie alle spiegazioni che ho trovato dalla mia amica Turca trapiantata a Roma Hande, aka Vinoroma. Ho realizzato i simit con la sua ricetta dimezzando la dose aggiungendo il caffè, [...]

  22. [...] soprattutto grazie alle spiegazioni che ho trovato dalla mia amica Turca trapiantata a Roma Hande, aka Vinoroma. Ho realizzato i simit con la sua ricetta dimezzando la dose aggiungendo il caffè, [...]

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