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Simit; "Sesame-Encrusted Bread Rings"

Turkish breakfast; Simit with feta cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes

Simit is indeed the quintessential Turkish food; these sesame-encrusted bread rings must be the most popular snack at home. You can have simit for breakfast with a cup of cay (tea), sliced cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese and olives. You can enjoy them for a mid morning or afternoon snack with cheese or simply plain. Turks prefer savory accompaniments to simit, though I must say it is also lovely over some butter and jam. Their flavor and deeply satisfying texture are quite unlike anything else.

Traditional simit stall (simitci) in Istanbul

There are mobile simit stalls everywhere, especially in Istanbul (Istanbullus pride themselves as to have the genuine article). Recently, there are also Simit Houses opened all around the country, where you can enjoy simit with various fillings; cheese, olive paste, sucuk (Turkish spicy sausages made from dried cured beef). A magnificent revival of this all time favorite street food.

 When I saw the Simit recipe at Leanne Kitchen’s delightful book  Turkey; Recipes and tales from the road, I was over the moon. No one bothers making simit at home, as it is so widely available and so good. But living abroad, you don’t mind tackling to make it and would be surprised to see how easy to make them. As it is the school term break at the moment, the children and I had a go with the simit dough; blissfully satisfying and a delicious experience. Lovely, crunchy crust coated with golden sesame seeds, and nice soft dough in the middle. I took a bite, closed my eyes, and I was in Istanbul 🙂

 This simit recipe is adapted by Leanne Kitchen’s version. I hope you enjoy them at least as much as we did:)

Makes 10

Prep time: 40 minutes (+1 hr for the dough to rise) Baking time:15-18 minutes

1 pinch sugar

15ml/3 teaspoons dried yeast

500gr (1lb 2oz/3 1/4 cups) plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

125ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) pekmez (molasses like syrup, see note)

235gr (8 1/2 oz 1 1/2 cups) sesame seeds

 

Combine the sugar and 60 ml (2fl oz/ 1/4 cup) lukewarm water in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the yeast. Set aside for about 8 minutes, or until foamy, then add another 310 ml (10 3/4 fl oz/ 1 1/4 cups) lukewarm water.

 Combine the flour and salt in a bowl, then add the yeast mixture and stir to form a coarse dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Roll the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

 

Preheat the oven to 220 C (425 F/Gas 7) and line a large size baking tray with baking paper. Knock back the dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 10 even sized pieces. Combine the pekmez with 80 ml (2 1/2 fl oz/1/3cup) water in a large bowl. Place the sesame seeds on a large plate. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use your hands to roll the dough out to make 55 cm (22″) long ropes. Fold in half so two ends align, then lift off the board and use your hands to twist each rectangle into a two stranded “rope”. Place back on the work surface and join the ends together to make a circle, pressing the ends firmly together to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough to make 10 rope circles.

Dip each ring, first into the pekmez mixture, immersing completely to coat, then drain well and toss in the sesame seeds, turning gently to coat. Transfer to the prepared tray and set aside at room temperature for about 20 minutes, to puff slightly. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until deep golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Simit are best eaten on the day of making but will keep, frozen in an airtight container, for up to 1 month.

 Note: Pekmez is a mollasses-like syrup made from the juice and must of certain fruits, usually grapes or figs. It is available from Middle Eastern and Turkish grocery stores.

 

 Afiyet Olsun!

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56 Responses to Simit; "Sesame-Encrusted Bread Rings"

  1. Phil in the Kitchen February 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    They look really appetising. I must look out for pekmez.

    • Ozlem February 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Nice to hear from you Phil, thanks for visiting. If you live near Addlestone, Surrey, there is a Turkish grocery shop right by the Tesco. They carry Pekmez ( and other Turkish ingredients like pepper paste, bulgur etc)

  2. Peri February 17, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    These look so very delicious on the plate…can’t wait to try them out. Love the picture of the Simit stall in Istanbul.

    • Ozlem February 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

      Thank you Peri:) Simit is such a huge part of the Turkish cuisine; it is a very humble pastry but we have so much emotional attachment to it. it is a joy to share with you all. xxx Ozlem

  3. Karin Anderson (Karin's Bäckerei) February 10, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Beautiful Simits!
    I had them first in a gorgeous Turkish bakery in Germany, and liked them so much, that I baked them at home. They are now among the European breads I regularly bake in my home kitchen for a local natural food store. My customers love them!
    No Turkish food here in Maine, sigh!
    Güle, güle,
    Karin

    • Ozlem Warren February 11, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      Merhaba Karin, many thanks for stopping by. Great that you make your own simit, once you get the hang of it, so easy and satisfying, isn’t it? My best wishes, Ozlem

  4. Stuart Sinclair February 26, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    As a seven year old, I was living in Ankara in 1947. My two abiding food memories were of yaort sold by the yaortji with two pans of fresh yaort over his shoulders who would come to the door of 24 Akay Sokak and of Simits. Is there anywhere in South East Englash where one can buy Simits?

  5. zerrin March 27, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Ozlem, these look so good! We don’t bother making it at home, but you might need to learn it if you’re abroad or if you like doing things from scratch like me! I love how yours are thicker than the street versions! Crunchy crust and soft dough in the middle make me crave for these simits right now! Turkish tea would be a perfect companion to these, but I love them with ayran too!

    • Ozlem Warren March 27, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

      Merhaba Zerrin, you are right, most probably I wouldn’t bother if I lived in Turkey and could get the real thing so easily : ) It really is not difficult making them at home, you get the texture and the taste almost as good as the simit : ) I am sure your version would be just amazing, love all your baked goodies : )

  6. Claudia March 28, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    Aferin sana,Özlemcim!!! Wonderful! x

    • Ozlem Warren March 28, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

      Cok tesekkurler Sevgili Claudia : ) Ozlem x

  7. Jo August 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Want to give these a try also. They look delicious!

    • Ozlem Warren August 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by Jo, I hope these Simit rings may bring happy memories of your visit to Istanbul!
      Ozlem

  8. Kim November 9, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    Thank you, Ozlem! I made these today and they are delicious!

    • Ozlem Warren November 9, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

      Hi Kim, delighted to hear it, so glad you enjoyed your simit, afiyet olsun!:)

  9. Cali December 10, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Hi Ozlem,

    I really wish to make this recipe but when it comes to shaping the dough, I have a hard time imagining how to do it based on the instructions. Can you post a video or show step by step photos for forming the dough into the simit bagels?

    Thanks!

    • Ozlem Warren December 11, 2013 at 10:58 am #

      Hi Cali, doing a video demo is something I’d like to master, hope soon too. Unfortunately I can’t do it at the moment as we are moving houses; but it turns our really well, as most folks reported. Please email if you have any further questions, good luck!

  10. Cali December 10, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    Also can you use pomegranate molasses as substitute for pekmas? I brought back some pekmas from turkey but i prefer to use it for when I am weak or sick.

    • Ozlem Warren December 11, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      Hi Cali, I guess you can, though pekmez has a thicker consistency and slightly sweeter taste, so you may need to adjust – love nar eksisi too!

  11. Lidia December 26, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    I’ve spotted this Turkish shop nearby (from where I’m sure I can buy some Pekmez), so I’m ready for my first simits 🙂 we call them “covrigi” or turkish bagels 🙂 Yours look so great, I’ll just have to try your recipe!

    • Ozlem Warren December 26, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

      Merhaba Lidia, many thanks for stopping by – so glad you’ll have a go at simit, afiyet olsun!:)

  12. kandice February 7, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    Ozlem hanim verdiginiz tarifeye bire bir uyguladim ve harika oldu sadece ertesi gun sertlestiler bi oneriniz varmi bu konuda. Tesekkurler…

    • Ozlem Warren February 9, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

      Merhabalar, cok sevindim simitin guzel olduguna, sagolun mesaj icin. Genelde tum simitler ertesi gun eski tazeligini yitiriyorlar; ben biraz islatip izgara altinda biraz isitiyorum ertesi gun, yaninda peynir yada yag – recel ile cok guzel oluyor. Umuyorum yardimci olur, selamlar, sevgiler, ozlem

  13. rakyv February 18, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    always following you.
    simit breads are my favourite and i do buy them in Istanbul whenever i can visit. it’s a sure thing to do… now.. with this recipe, i hope i can do it my self here.
    thank you Ozlem …

    • Ozlem Warren February 18, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      Merhaba Raky, you’re very welcome, hope you enjoy it – and many thanks for stopping by 🙂

  14. Kat May 13, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    Hi Ozlem,
    I live in an area where there is very little access to any sort of ethnic food products. Is there anything I can substitute for the pekmez mixture?

    • Ozlem Warren May 14, 2014 at 8:42 am #

      Merhaba Kat, I hear the Italian Saba or Vib cotto is similar to pekmez, grape molasses, can you get that one? Here is a link fwith more info http://www.thekitchn.com/ingredient-spotlight-saba-93329. Taste is sharper than a good balsamic vinegar, more thicker, I hope it helps. Many thanks for stopping by!

  15. courtney montgomwry February 26, 2015 at 1:28 am #

    Hello I have just found your recipe and site I love the look of your simit I can’t wait to try it.I have a question about the pekmez I am in the states and I want to try the recipe.is there a suitable substitute?

    • Ozlem Warren February 26, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

      Hello Coutney, many thanks for your note; pekmez is grape molasses, if you can find a similar thing or grape molasses that would work well. Treacle may work as a good substitute, hope you enjoy making simit!

  16. Deborah Groom March 19, 2015 at 1:39 am #

    Thanks so much for this great recipe. I am not able to find new sources of pekmez here in Vancouver BC. I am glad I still had some left from my travels. I am wondering if a thick cream honey could be a substitute. Thanks, Deb

    • Ozlem Warren March 19, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

      Merhaba Deborah, you may use other fruit molasses like fig or date molasses, also diluted treacle may work too; I think honey maybe too sweet without the fruit component in it – hope it helps, Ozlem

  17. Nuray March 19, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    Please could you advise what I can use instead of pekmez I live in New Zealand and can’t seem to fine it anywhere

    Thank you,

    Love your cooking and tips.

    • Ozlem Warren March 19, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

      Merhaba Nuray, you may use other fruit molasses like fig or date molasses, also diluted treacle may work too – hope it helps, many thanks for your kind words, delighted to hear you enjoy the recipes here : ) Ozlem

      • greedybread May 20, 2015 at 8:17 am #

        Nuray, we have pomegranate syrup in new Zealand which I use. You can think it down so its not so thick.

  18. Lina Al-Qaissy April 14, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    Merhaba Ozlem!

    I just tried these today and they turned out heavenly! thank you so much for the recipe.
    However, I used a date syrup because I couldn’t find Pekmez, so my Simits did not turn out as golden as yours, I was wondering if it’s because i didn’t use Pekmez?

    • Ozlem Warren April 15, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

      Merhaba Lina, many thanks for your kind note – delighted to hear you enjoyed making Simit:)! Pekmez does give a darkish golden color, so I presume it’s because of that – so glad they turned out heavenly! Selamlar, Ozlem

  19. GREEDYBREAD May 20, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    I love your website and your recipes.
    I have made simit today after having them in Istanbul/Turkey when we visited 2 years ago.
    Like you, i dream of them!!
    This recipe is based on a combination of recipes and trial and error.

    http://www.greedybread.com/bread/simit-turkish-bread-rings/

    I have used pomegranate syrup to dunk them in.

    Nuray, In NZ, use pomegranate syrup or a date syrup which most speciality shops will sell.
    Sabato online and also The merchant in Taupo(where I live has them).
    Some Asian shops have the juice which you can reduce down to a syrup.

    Next week I am making your Lamb stew with yoghurt and aubergine…Looking forward to it.

    • Ozlem Warren May 20, 2015 at 8:52 am #

      Merhaba Greedy Bread – cool name! – many thanks for your kind notes, delighted to hear you enjoy recipes here. Simit is a very special street food and I liked how you make them; pomegranate molasses is a good substitute to pekmez, with thinning down; living abroad, I appreciate any substitute ideas we can get, many thanks for that. Slightly sweeter date syrup is a really good idea too. Do hope you enjoy the lamb stew next week – just checked out your blog, really lovely!:) Selamlar, Ozlem

  20. Ghanima July 16, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    Hello,

    I just want to thank you for sharing this amazing recipe.I’ve been making your simits for more than a year. it’s one of my favorite.
    All the best
    From Kuwait .

    • Ozlem Warren July 17, 2015 at 9:24 am #

      Merhaba dear Ghanima, many thanks for your kind note. Delighted to hear you are enjoying my simit recipe, afiyet olsun : ) My best wishes, Ozlem

  21. Chris J February 13, 2017 at 6:56 am #

    Just found a recipe to make simit and am doing final proof right now,
    . Didn’t use pekmez as unavailable here in Philippines but used molasses instead.

    So far so good. We want to visit Turkey after…things settle down…

    • Ozlem Warren February 13, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

      Merhaba Chris, delighted to hear it, I hope you enjoyed making Simit – and do make it to Turkey, a fascinating land to visit. I will be in Istanbul in March and can not wait. Believe me it is safer than most places around the world at the moment. Best wishes, Ozlem

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