One of my favorite snacks while traversing Sultanahmet Square in the old city of Istanbul is simit from a street vendor. I used to watch to see who the merchants went to for theirs and then I’d follow suit. Traditional Turkish Simit is a twisted bagel like looking bread that is found everywhere in Turkey. We don’t know how old simit is, but there are images of street vendors at least back to the 18th C where they would have them on a string or a dowel and slide them off to sell to their customers. There are some variations on how they are made but pretty much they are wheat flour dough, rolled out in two lines, twisted around each other, dipped in a solution of grape molasses and water and then into sesame seeds. They are often eaten for breakfast and some people serve them with cheese, jams or other toppings.
My recipe is a variation in that I used a Turkish Red Wheat flour vs regular whole wheat (a whole wheat flour brought to the United States in the 1800’s by Crimean immigrants). This heritage wheat is a hard wheat with a higher gluten content than softer wheat and has a truly nutty flavor. Sometimes it takes a little extra yeast to ensure that it rises well, but I love it for it’s full bodied flavor and nutrition. I just appreciate that this flour originated in the Turkish region.
You can use just about any whole wheat flour you like but you may need to substitute 1 cup of bread flour to your whole wheat to get enough of a rise.
I use an initial slow overnight rise to ensure the wheat has time to hydrate well. The second rise happens after you form the simit ring.
I really love the unique flavor and interesting shape and that I’m getting to enjoy a treat I’ve had many times in Turkey with the added benefit of whole wheat and protein laden toppings.
Traditional Turkish Breakfast with toasted Simit, cheese and preserves
- 1 baking sheet
- 1 sheet of parchment
- 1 medium mixing bowl
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup clarified butter or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
- 4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup grape molasses or regular light molasses or honey
- 2 cups mixed seeds sesame, sunflower, hemp, chia, pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt or other salt as desired
- baking spray or additional oil to prevent sticking
- First combine the water, yeast, sugar and allow the yeast to activate about 15 minutes. Add the clarified butter or oil and stir well. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt and mix in the wet ingredients until it forms a wet dough. combine well and allow to rest covered with plastic wrap, overnight in the refrigerator.
Making the Simit
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with baking spray or brush with oil or clarified butter to prevent sticking and create a crunchier bottom. TechniqueRemove from the fridge and knead the dough for a few minutes. Separate into 4 equal sized dough balls. Take each ball and split into two. Roll each piece into a 10- 12 " rope. First secure one end together and then twist them around each other until you reach the other end. Pinch the ends together and form into a ring. Pinch the ring ends together so they don't separate. Dip into molasses/water solution and then into the seed mixture. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once all 4 are on the sheet cover with a cloth and let rise till approximately double in size. Preheat oven to 350 degrees FBake for 20 minutes. Turn pan and continue baking until firm and a knock on it produces a hollow sound. Let cool and enjoy alone or with your favorite topping!