Last week, I came across some cool Turkish copper bowls and serving trays at an antique store. So I bought them! Which then made me think of making something Turkish so I could use the bowls in a post.
So I started looking for different recipes, but came across Simit (which are almost like bagels), and knew right away that I would make these! They are like bagels, but the dough looks twisted or braided, and the ingredients and method are slightly different.
Since I didn’t get to bake over the weekend, I figured this would be a good recipe to do on a weeknight, because you basically let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, which cuts down on wait time.
Hopefully you will sleep well on the night before you form and bake these, and not have obsessive dreams about making these like I had! I had about three dreams, (if you can call them that), of me basically sitting at my kitchen table and forming the rings of simit and dredging them in sesame seeds! Weird.
Oh well. I guess I should be grateful it’s not the recurrent dreams I used to have, mainly when I was going to school, where I’m sitting on the slippery head of a whale while it swims through a dark, ominous ocean, feeling like I will slip off and drown into oblivion at any moment! That is a true recurrent dream that, thankfully, I haven’t had in years. Processing control issues, I reckon.
Anyways, I’m hoping to make these again, since I didn’t have the grape molasses called for in the recipe, but I just thought of a place that is very likely to stock that here in Seattle.
Simit (modified from this recipe from Delicious Istanbul)
3 cups All Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup + 1/4 cup lukewarm (110-114 degrees F) water
5 grams of active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey, or sugar
1 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup sesame seeds, slightly toasted
1/4 cup pekmez, grape molasses (I only had barley malt syrup)
1/4 cup water
Pour (1 cup plus 1/4 cup) lukewarm water into a large bowl and dissolve sugar into it, then add the yeast and stir gently . Let sit, undisturbed for about 5-10 minutes, until frothy. If not frothy, discard, because the yeast is dead.
In a separate bowl, stir together the salt and the flour. After yeast has bloomed, add about a third of the flour mixture and stir with a spoon. Gradually add more of the flour and stir as it thickens to a dough. When you have about one cup left to stir in, sprinkle some flour on a work table surface and pour the dough on top of it, kneading it for about 10 minutes, incorporating the remaining flour. The dough should be smooth and hard. Form it into a ball. Oil the same large bowl lightly and turn the ball of dough once in the bowl to coat it with the oil, then place a damp towel over the bowl, and leave it in a warm place for about an hour, then place it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, I took the bowl out and left it on the counter for about 5 minutes, while I got the rest of the things I needed to bake:
-Boil a quart of water and keep it on medium high heat while you shape the dough pieces. The boiling water will be placed in a 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan and placed in the oven for the first 10 minutes of baking time, to create steam, which helps create oven spring for the bread, and a crunchier crust.
-Place the molasses and water, stir, to create a bath for each ring of dough before dredging with sesame seeds.
-Place sesame seeds on a plate. Set aside.
I punched the dough down, divided it into 8 equal pieces (I used a scale and had exactly enough to portion into 3 ounces pieces.) I covered these with a towel next to the floured work surface, while working on shaping the first piece of dough.
Roll the dough ball into a rope with your fingers, until it is about 2 feet long. It should be a long skinny rope dough laying horizontally in front of you. Pull one end of the rope over to the other end, sort of like a horizontal “U”, only the gap in the middle is not wide. Grasp the side with the open ends and twist several times, while at the same time grabbing the other end (bottom of the “U”) with your thumb and pointer finger to keep the loop open that is created from the twisting. Tuck the two open ends into this loop, creating a ring. (I should have taken photos. Sorry. If this isn’t clear, the link of the original recipe above has great photos).
Dunk each ring into the molasses/water mix, then leave on a rack to drain slightly while working on creating another ring. After all rings have been dunked, dredge each in sesame seeds. Try to get as much of the surface, including the inner part of the ring, covered with sesame seeds as possible.
Place 4 rings per baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Place the baking pan with boiling water into the oven. Place the first baking sheet to be baked off on the rack above it, and right before closing the door, use a ladle to splash about 1/4 cup from the baking pan to the oven floor, to create steam. Bake with the water pan for the first ten minutes, then remove it (carefully) and continue baking for about 10 more minutes until sides are golden brown. Do not over bake, as sesame seeds get bitter when burnt.
Cool on wire racks. These are best eaten within a few hours. Serve with tea or coffee, along with butter, honey, jam, or cheese. Enjoy!