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Turkish Sesame Ring (Simit)

If you ask a Turk living away from Turkey to name 5 foods items he or she misses the most, chances one of them will be simit. M. would also add cheese and tea to go with it.

Simit is a popular street food – a crispy and chewy twisted ring studded with sesame seeds all over. It is sold everywhere by simit sellers who carry them by tray loads or in special carts. I have tried several simit recipes, but none worked as well as this one by Ayla Agar, a Turkish-American scholar who happens to be an amazing cookbook writer. She obtained the recipe from a small bakery in a back street behind the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul and she claims it is the best. And she is right. This recipe works yielding simit close to what you will find in Turkey. Although it lacks the characteristic flavor of a clay-oven baked simit that sells in Turkey, it is still very good.

M. munched on the chewy simits with white cheese, sipping at his Turkish tea while praising me for my improved simit baking skills. Then we both dreamed about buying a real clay-oven baked simit from behind a Spice Bazaar in Istanbul. Hopefully this summer. Can’t wait.

Turkish Sesame Rings (Simit)
Adapted from “Classical Turkish Cooking”, by Ayla Algar

Makes 8 large simits

Note: The original recipe calls for baking the simit on heated tiles but I adjusted it to use regular baking sheets as I don’t own tiles.

For the Dough:
3  + 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeasts
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm water
about 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt
About 1 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup molasses (in Turkey: pekmez)
1/2 cup water

For the Topping:
2 cups sesame seeds

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup warm water and let stand 10 minutes in a warm place until frothy. Place the flour on the work surface, make a well in the center, and put in the yeast mixture, salt, and 1 cup lukewarm water. Gradually work in the flour to make a stiff dough (you may not need all of the flour). If you have a heavy-duty mixture, it is best to knead 10 minutes with the dough hook. By hand, knead at least 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth and springy. Put the dough in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 2 hours.

Knead the dough a few times on a lightly floured work surface, roll into a log, and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a tight ball and let rest under a slightly damp towel about 30 minutes.

Roll each ball into a 14-inch long rope. Hold down one end of the rope with one hand while twisting it with the other. Then form this twisted rope into a long ring, pressing and rolling the overlapping ends together on the work surface with one hand to seal. Place on a greased baking sheet or a work surface (I use marble countertop) and let rest 1 hour.

Dust 4 baking sheets with some cornmeal. Set aside.

Dissolve the molasses in water in a bowl. Put the sesame seeds in a plate and set it next to molasses water. Dip each simit in molasses water first, then in the sesame seeds, making sure the simit is completely and thickly coated with the seeds on all sides.

Place 2 rings on each baking sheet. Take each ring and rotate it gently through your hands, enlarging it into a 7-inch circle. Or, if it is easier for you, let the simit sit on the baking sheet and simply stretch it in all directions. Let the simits rest for 30 minutes or until well puffed.

Preheat the oven to 390F.

Bake 2 baking sheets at at time, about 15 to 20 minutes, until rich brown in color. Simit is best eaten fresh out of the oven. They will be good all day. You can also reheat them wrapped in foil to freshen them. Afiyet Olsun! (Bon appetit – in Turkish)

55 Comments
  1. Your sesame rings are beautiful! A lovely treat!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Farida, these are just like the Koulouria of Thessaloniki (northern Greece). They are found all over Greece but Thessaloniki has them sold at bakeries and carts on many corners.

    Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  3. OMG OMG DELICIOUS…I CAN JUST SMELL THEM..PLEASE SEND ME A COUPLE OF THEM.. I WOULD SO LOVE SOME WITH A GLASS OFFFF TEA….

  4. Wait did I read you are going to TR this summer! Yeahh take me with you!

  5. Feride,

    Are your simits bakery ones or street ones? Anyways, I am going to try your recipe tomorrow night.

    Thanks a million for the recipe!

  6. looks delicious…thanks for sharing Turkish recipes…

  7. Those sesame studded rings look fantastic!

  8. I was looking at this recipe in Algar’s book just yesterday, yet it didn’t really appeal to me (probably due to lack of pictures). But to see them now baked and everything, sooo appealing. Btw, simit is number 2 in my list after lahmacun :)

  9. These look soooo good! I really want one right now… Thank you for sharing the recipe, I will definitely try this out… =)

  10. I will confess I tried the simit last time I was in Istanbul and I did not like them that much! Maybe they were old ones? In any case I was disappointed! I want to try your recipe though to see if I missed something.

  11. P.S Your photos are outstanding!

  12. Thank you Farida!!
    That is what I needed for this weekend!!! :)
    ~Nargiz

  13. These sesame studded rings look so good. I personally love anything sesame. :)
    Hope you do go to spend your summer in Turkey. :)

  14. Your sesame rings are absolutely stunning. Great job and great shots :)

  15. Hmmmm, these look so delicious! I love anything bread-related. Great pictures too!

  16. Beautiful! A must try.

  17. I’m one of them! I really do miss typical Turkish things (as I’m living in the Netherlands). In May I will go on holiday and first thing I will eat is probably simit:) I love it especially with white cheese and tomatoes! And ofcourse turkish tea.

  18. OMG I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THIS RECEIPE EVER SINCE I MOVED TO US> THANK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

  19. Farida , janim , I have a questions.

    Can I use this receipe for bread as well? I want to bake a bread, but I do not want the texture hard and tough any suggestions or receipes…Yadindadi Turk choraklari neja olur, cox mohkam yox?

    Thanks

  20. With each post, I fall more and more in love your blog and food. One day perhaps, I loved to go on trip with you so that you can introduce me to all of these amazing treats!

  21. Wow, those look delicious and I bet they’d be a fantastic bread for dipping in hummus! I will have to try these!

  22. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR COMMENTS, FRIENDS!

  23. Amazing….as usual!!! I will try this next week when I get back home!

    Paula

  24. LOL I am no Turkish but I miss simit! never realised they are twisted ! going to attempt this farida; thanks!

  25. I did it! I managed to make simit, thank you Feride. And they tasted just like the ones they sell on streets in Turkey. It takes so long because of the time you have to wait for the dough, but it is totally worth it! :)))

  26. Farida , janim , I have a questions.

    Can I use this receipe for bread as well? I want to bake a bread, but I do not want the texture hard and tough any suggestions or receipes…Yadindadi Turk choraklari neja olur, cox mohkam yox?

    Thanks

  27. ASLI: so glad you made it:)) you also made my day:) thank you.

    VUSALA: So sorry I missed your earlier question about making bread. This particular dough won’t do it. But I will send you another one that should work. By email.

  28. These are beautiful! WOW!

  29. Wow, these sesame rings must taste so good, and so aromatic :-)

  30. Farida, this looks so scrummy!! I love sesame seeds. This is like a pretzel but even better I’m sure x

  31. çok güzel!
    iza:)

  32. Looking forward to baking these already.
    I have not seen molasses in the shops in Bangalore, can i use demerara sugar dissolved in water instead?

  33. NITHYA: I am not quite sure about demera sugar and water. I think a better substitute would be to use a fruit syrup (or a liquidy part of a fruit preserve) diluted in some water if too thick. Hope this helps. Let me know how it turns out please:)

  34. I want one now!!!! I can’t wait to make them! :)

  35. Your simit looks delicious. I’m so glad I found your recipe and site. I will be trying these this week, and I can’t wait. Thank you!

  36. I lived in Adana for years. We ate Ekmek every morning and Simits in the afternoon. I’m going to try to convince my local bagel shop to make this simit recipe.

  37. I lived in Turkey when I was very young (40+ years ago) and I have strong taste memories of simits and donor kebab. My donor kebab cravings are usually satisfied by gyros, but I’ve tried several recipes over the years for simits and none have come close. I tried a recipe attributed to the same cookbook author, from “Classical Turkish Cooking: Traditional Turkish Food for the American”. It was very different and ended up more like a brioche. The dough called for:

    1 teaspoon active dry yeast
    Pinch of sugar
    1/4 cup warm water
    3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 egg
    3 tablespoons sugar
    1/2 lbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature divided into small pieces
    2 teaspoons pulverized mahleb
    About 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons water

    I look forward to trying this recipe as soon as it cools down here on the east coast)!

  38. Merci pour votre blog et pour toutes vos recettes,notamment celle des simits

  39. La traduction de mon commentaire n’est pas correcte!!!

  40. Merci beaucoup de l’avoir rectifié.

  41. I have been looking for this recipe forever!
    I can’t thank you enough for posting it

  42. Pekmezi ne ile evez etmek olar? Men burada, Rusiyada onu tapa bilmeyecem.

  43. OFEL?YA – Tünd mür?bb? suyu ola bil?r.

  44. Thanks a lot.

  45. I just discovered this site a few weeks ago…it’s great! My boyfriend is from Turkey (I’m American), and loves simit, I’ve tried other simit recipes, but, to him, they just were “ok” (not quite right).

    When he tasted these, I could actually see his eyes grow bigger and light-up and he said, “That is exactly simit!” He said, “you can just keep making this recipe.” :)

    Thank you!

    P.S. – He’s been talking about kisir, too, so with your new post, that will be next!! Thanks, again!

  46. cok guzel (: tesker ederim!

  47. Farida, I tried this recipe yesterday and it turned out just like the simit sold on the streets in Turkey. It was great! I actually posted a picture of it on my blog. Thank you!

  48. Hi Feride,

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I noticed your comment about adjusting the cooking temperature since you don’t cook on clay tiles. May I ask what temperature the original recipe calls for? Also, did the measurements of the ingredients change due to the adjustment of the cooking temperature for metal sheets? Thanks!

    John

    • Taz, the original recipe reads: “Preheat the oven to 550 degrees and heat tiles 30 minutes before baking. Put a few cups of water in an ovenproof pan and place it in the oven. Sprinkle the paddle with some cornmeal.” As to measurements, not related to cooking temps. I only reduced the amount of molasses, water and sesame seeds – the “crust” of the rings. The original amounts were too much. Happy baking:)

  49. Thank you for the quick reply and details Feride! They’re about to come out of the oven in 5-10 minutes. My sister and I were born in Turkey, so I plan on surprising her with fresh out of the oven simit for dinner. I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

    If this goes well I’ll be buying a charcoal grill, pizza stone, and lump charcoal to see if I can get closer what you’d taste from a more traditional oven in Turkey.

    Thanks again!

    • Taz, please let me know the results. I am curious:) If you get a chance to snap a photo with your cell or camera, that would be great! I can post the picture in the blog’s facebook page, for all to see. Thank you!

  50. Hi Feride. Well, based on my sister’s reaction it was a hit. However, I think I let it go a little too long in the oven, just a touch. Also, I think I was a bit short when measuring the water for the pekmez since there was a slightly sweet flavor. By no means was this attempt a disaster, but my next attempt should be better. I will forward some pictures later today or tomorrow. Thanks.

    • Taz, glad you tried it! Looking forward to the pics. WIll share them with my readers. Can’t wait:) Thank you!

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