So excited to share How To Make Turkish Simit Bread, my favorite bread rings, encrusted in sesame seeds and made from simple bread dough.
What Is Simit?
Turkey’s most loved twisted dough, ring-shaped bread, coated with molasses and encrusted with sesame seeds, is often eaten for breakfast, perfect for a home cooked meze/Tapas spread also sold as street food on nearly every street in Turkey.
Nearly every culture has its favorite bread, no matter the shape or flavor. Simit is the most loved bread of Turkey, and now we can make this fabulous bread right in our own kitchens!
Many cultures also have what is considered ‘street food’, something easy to grab while on the go, on a busy city street. Simit, in Turkey, is a favorite street food most often eaten for breakfast, though any meal would be my favorite time to eat it!
While Simit is round, like a donut, it is most often sold as a bread and not a dessert. While it also gives the illusion of a bagel, it is way more than a bagel.
Simit is dense with seeds practically glued to the outside by dipping the dough in a molasses and water mix then rolling the dough in seeds, lots and lots of sesame seeds.
The molasses leaves very little flavor. It is used mostly to impart the golden color when the bread is baked as well as aiding as the glue to keep the seeds stuck to the bread. Oh… the lovely nutty flavor those seeds impart!
Simit Is Bread!
Bread is my absolute favorite thing in the world to eat! I love making bread at home and I always make it by hand, never a mixer, so I’m always looking for new bread recipes from around the world that are easy to mix, knead and bake.
While I found contradicting versions of simit recipes, I went into the kitchen instead and created my own, based on the most attractive aspects of the recipes I came across. And anyway… doesn’t every cook put their own twist on the most traditional of family recipes passed down to them!
My Twist On How To Make Simit
While my first batch of Simit was made the traditional way; flour, yeast, molasses for dipping and lots of sesame seeds to encrust the bread.
I couldn’t help but to try a different flour, one that is more rustic. I swapped out white wheat flour for spelt flour and I swapped out sesame seeds for hemp heart seeds. Both of these versions are my absolute favorite!
I didn’t grow up knowing about spelt flour but now, with its rustic texture and being less processed, I love it in many of my recipes: Spelt Potato Sandwich Bread and Spelt and Kefir Yeast Bread.
While Pita Bread is what I grew up making and eating with Mediterranean Food, Simit has become my favorite bread of recent years because is turns out beautifully being made with both all purpose flour and spelt flour.
How To Make And Shape Simit
Like any homemade bread recipe, the dough is mixed and folded again and again until the dough is no longer sticking to your fingers. Then it has to rise, covered in a warm, not hot, place. Usually an hour or more. Once the first rise is done, the real fun with these twisted rings begins.
A traditional flavor enhancer in Simit, as well as in many other Mediterranean breads, is Mahlab, also known as Mahlepi.
It has a lovely, delicate, sort of nutty flavor, from the wild cherry pits and are usually sold already ground into a powder. It isn’t necessary to use in the bread though it does add a lovely extra flavor not easily substituted for.
While this recipe is intended to make about 8 rings of simit, 16 long strips of dough will be needed to cut from the risen dough.
Laying 2 strips, that have been stretched to about a foot each, side by side, pinch one end together, pick them up holding the pinched end and twirl the 2 strips round and round so that they wrap around each other. (Picture below examples).
These beautiful rounds get dipped in a molasses and water mixture, placed in a bowl of sesame seeds to coat both sides, then baked on a baking tray until golden.
How To Serve Turkish Simit Bread
You can see by the ingredients that Simit bread would be delicious served anyway you want, if you want to go all out and make a Middle Eastern spread, these are the dishes I have served with it.
- Cilbir – Mediterranean Eggs Over Garlic Yogurt – a very traditional Turkish dish, served on a Tapas spread or with a meal.
- Stuffed Grape Leaves – meat or vegan – something I always have stacked in my freezer and thaw to warm as needed.
- Spanakopita – spinach, egg and cheese pastry pies.
- Beet and Goat Cheese stacks – roasted beetroots, stacked with slices of goat cheese, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs.
- Oil or melted butter
- Mahlab – an optional spice
- Sesame seeds
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Basting brush
- Kitchen towel to cover dough while rising
- Baking sheet pan
- Parchment paper
How To Make Turkish Simit BreadCourse: BreadCuisine: Turkish
Turkish bread rings, encrusted in sesame seeds and made from simple bread dough or sweetened spongy dough.
Instant Yeast – 1 tablespoon
Sugar – 2 teaspoon, to proof the yeast
Salt – 1 tablespoon
Water – 1 1/2 cups, lukewarm
Flour – 3 3/4 cups, give or take plus extra for shaping
Oil or Melted butter – 2 tablespoon
Mahlab/Mahlepi – 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
Molasses – 1/4 cup
Water – 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds – 1 1/2 cups, lightly toasted
- Pour water in a bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar on top. Let sit 5 minutes to form a foam. Sprinkle salt, mahlab (if using) and add a little flour. Stir. Slowly add flour and stir until it becomes difficult to stir. Now it’s time to get a little messy. With your hands, begin to press added flour into the dough, add more flour, and keep pressing and folding, adding flour until it forms a lovely plump ball. There is no need for strenuous kneading, just a simple press, fold, flour, press, fold, flour until the dough is no longer sticking to your fingers.
- In a clean large bowl, pour a little oil to glaze the bowl. Place dough ball in the oiled bowl, cover and let it sit in a warm (not hot) place to rise. It will rise in about one hour. A little longer in cooler climate.
- Once it rises, sprinkle a little flour on top, and punch it down. On a floured surface, roll into a long log and cut 16 sections. Lay 2 strips, that have been rolled and stretched to about a foot each, side by side, pinch one end together. Pick them up holding the pinched end and twirl the 2 strips round and round so that they wrap around each other. Bring the long twisted roll into a circle and press the ends together. Do the same to all the sections until you have 8 rings.
- In one bowl, wide enough to dip the dough rings in, whisk the molasses with 1/2 cup of water. In another bowl of similar size, place the toasted sesame seeds. Dip one twisted dough ring into the molasses mix quickly, both sides, then dip into the sesame seeds to coat both sides. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Do the same for the other 7.
- Preheat oven to 400 and allow the dough to sit on the counter for 30 minutes to rise a little more.
- Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until golden on top.
- If a spelt dough is desired instead of the wheat flour, simply swap out the wheat flour for spelt flour but also add 1 tablespoon of potato starch to the flour. Spelt flour is a more rustic flour and can be heavy so it needs a little help in the rising process. I find potato starch the perfect assistance.
- If hemp heart seeds are desired instead of toasted sesame seeds (lots more protein in using these little seeds), no toasting is needed. Simply dip the molasses coated dough rings into a bowl of hemp seeds and follow the same instructions for the wheat flour Simit.