A simit is a round bagel with a golden crispy crust studded with toasted sesame seeds.
Simits are especially popular in Turkey. In Istanbul, you can find them on sale at almost every turn. They are often sold from street carts, and some vendors carry a tray/basket with simitas on their heads.
Street vendors usually entice customers with shouts like “Fresh,” “Hot,” and “Very Hot,” depending on how long ago they were cooked.
Because of its accessibility, simitas are eaten by absolutely all social strata. It is even said that in this sense the simit has social significance – uniting around itself and erasing the line between the rich and the poor.
Simita dough is made from a mixture of flour, sugar, yeast, and water, then it is shaped into a round and dipped in pekmez, grape treacle, and then rolled in sesame seeds.
This unique cooking method gives the simita its characteristic sweetness and nutty flavor.
Simit is definitely an iconic dish Turkish cuisine, which is definitely worth a try. And for those who have tried it, make it yourself to immerse yourself in nostalgic memories of a trip to Turkey.
⏱️ Cooking time — 2 hours and 5 minutes overall. Includes 1 hours 5 minutes of preparation and cooking + 1 hours unattended.
🍽 For 12-14 simits:
- 1 kg (2,2 lb) of wheat flour
- 1-2 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 600 ml (2,5 cups) of warm water
- 11 g (0,4 oz) (1 sachet) of dry instant yeast (I use Saf Instant)
- 150 ml (0,6 cup) of pekmez (+75 ml of water)
- 250-300 g (8,8-10,6 oz) of white sesame
For the best and most predictable results, I recommend using a kitchen scale for all baking/bread/dessert recipes.
Comments & Alternatives
Wheat flour – you can make do with ordinary all-purpose wheat flour of the highest grade, but it is preferable to use bread flour with high protein content, 13%+. In Ukraine, such flour is sold in specialty stores and online, and is almost never found in large supermarkets.
Salt – table or sea salt is not important. The volume is relevant for fine salt. I like the taste of the simit when it has 2.5-3% salt relative to the weight of the flour, but if you are trying to minimize salt intake 1-1.5% will be enough.
Water is pure drinking water. Bottled or from a filter. Warm, i.e. at a temperature around human body temperature. Not hot! Hot water makes yeast lose its ability to reproduce and die.
Yeast – I always use Saf Isntant instant dry yeast for any baked goods. The type of yeast doesn’t make any difference in the quality of the baked goods, but the quick yeast is the easiest to use. They don’t need to be activated in warm water and they require less. Even so, I usually show the activation process in almost every recipe anyway, so that even if the reader gets confused and takes regular dry yeast instead of quick yeast, they’ll still make it. I have a baking sheet, so you can easily substitute quick yeast for the regular dry yeast by increasing the amount by a third, i.e. use 15 g instead of 11 g.
Pekmez is grape treacle, grape juice boiled until it thickens. It can be replaced by any other molasses, as well as by honey, syrups like maple syrup, narsharab (will give a sourness). The most affordable substitute is a thick syrup made from sugar and water. It’s like golden syrup, but not as thickened.
Sesame – use white, we will roast it during the cooking process, for a stronger flavor. On sale can be completely raw or roasted (semi-roasted). If your sesame is roasted, it will still need to be toasted, but for a shorter amount of time.
🔪 Step by step Directions
Knead the dough — 10 minutes
Take 600 ml (2,5 cups) of warm water (about body temperature), аdd 1-2 tbsp. salt, 1 tbsp. sugar and 11 grams (1 sachet) of dry instant yeast (I use Saf Instant). Stir it up.
Measure 1 kg of wheat flour, add the liquid to the flour and knead the dough. In a planetary mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough for about 8 minutes, but if using your hands it will take 10-12 minutes.
Place the dough on a work surface and roll into a ball. Transfer the dough back to the bowl of a mixer or bowl.
Cover with a damp towel and leave in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.
Roast sesame and prepare liquid mixture — 15 minutes
While the dough is rising, let’s take care of the sesame seeds. Put the pan on medium heat.
Add 200-250 g (7-8,8 oz) white sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and with a bright nutty flavor.
You can stir with a spatula or by tilting and tossing the contents of the pan, as you prefer.
When the sesame is the desired color, pour it into a bowl and set aside.
Take another clean bowl and pour 150 ml (0,6 cup) of pecmes or an alternative into it.
Add 75 ml of water and stir until smooth. Set aside.
Divide the dough — 5 minutes
Preheat the oven on top + bottom to 230 °C (450 °F).
After 30-40 minutes, place the dough on a work surface. For greater accuracy, you can weigh the dough and divide by the desired simita weight to know the quantity or refer to the counts to know the unit weight.
The average dough for one simita should weigh 120-130 g (4,2-4,6 oz).
From 1 kg (2,2 lb) of flour we get 12-14 pieces. 14 is not a very convenient number, because 4 pieces fit on the baking tray, so it’s better to make either 12 or 16.
Divide the dough into the desired number of pieces, use a scale for accuracy.
Take 2 pieces of dough, cover the rest with a damp towel.
Flatten the pieces, wrap the edges in the center and roll into a ball.
Repeat with the remaining pieces, taking 2 pieces at a time, and hide the finished pieces under a towel so that the dough does not become weathered.
Transfer the finished balls of dough to a free work surface or baking tray, pre-scrubbing it with flour, cover with a damp towel.
Twist the similes — ~25 minutes for 12 pcs.
Take a ball of dough. Divide it into 2 equal parts and roll into balls.
Pressing the dough with the palm of your hand, roll it into a roll about 40-45 cm (15,7-17,7 inches) long, rolling from the center to the edges.
When the dough has stretched enough – use 2 hands. Repeat with the second ball.
Place 2 harnesses side by side and staple the left ends by flattening them.
Roll the dough with the palm of your hand so that the harnesses are intertwined along their entire length.
Fold the ends crosswise and wrap inside, flattening the dough slightly so that it sticks together.
Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and make 3 more billets (or 7 if you plan to bake on two baking sheets at the same time).
Roll the simitas in sesame seeds and put them in the oven for ~10 minutes
Prepare toasted sesame seeds and pecmez diluted with water.
Dip the dough pieces in the peckmez so that the liquid covers them on all sides. Then roll them in sesame seeds on all sides. Place on a baking tray and repeat with the remaining pieces.
Bake in a preheated 230°C (450°F) oven, top+down for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
While the first batch is baking, roll up the billets for the second batch.
Place the finished simitas on a rack and allow to cool slightly.
Clean the baking tray and baking paper of any sesame seeds and bake the next batch.
Prepare the 3rd batch of simitas
I used one baking tray, so I had to divide my 14 simitas into 3 batches. For the last one, I used a mixture of white sesame and nigella (black cumin) as an experiment.
Although the sesame version is the most canonical, you can experiment with sprinkles however you like. For example, use poppy seeds or peeled sunflower seeds.
Simotes are most delicious while they’re still warm. So don’t put it off, serve it right away. For how to preserve the rest, see “How and How Long Does a Simit Keep?”.
What should I serve with a Turkish simit?
Turkish simit is good on its own, but no one forbids serving it with various additions. Here are a few options:
- Tea or coffee. The traditional accompaniment to a Turkish simit is a hot cup of tea or coffee. For me, it’s the perfect end to breakfast.
- Cheeses. Any cheese will be appropriate with a simet, but cheeses with bright cheese with bright flavors. Salty cheese like feta, creamy goat cheese, sharp cheddar – goes well with the nutty sweetness of simita.
- Jam, honey or butter. Spread it on top or cut the simita in half, smear the bottom half with jam and cover the top half. The butter will make the simita taste richer and creamier.
- Sauces, Dips. Serve simit with zazaki or strawberry chili sauce. А The sweet version can be served with lemon curd.
- Other snacks and spreads. Appetizers like hummus, Greek fava, taramasalata, and try serving simit with caramelized onions and cheese are great.
How and how long is simit stored?
Simit is a one-day meal and is usually bought and eaten with a bang and rarely left for a second day because it has a shorter shelf life than other baked goods.
It is best eaten, if not immediately, then within one day of baking in order to maintain optimal freshness and flavor.
But when stored in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in clingfilm, simit can survive at room temperature for up to 2 to 3 days, losing only a little in its qualities. In the refrigerator even longer.
If you have made a large batch of simitas and want to keep them longer, freezing is your option. Wrap the simitas tightly in cling film and put them in the freezer. Store for up to 2 months.
When you’re ready, take the simitas out of the freezer and let them thaw at room temperature. Or if you want it quicker, reheat it in the oven or microwave.
How do you soften a simmite?
If the simit has become dry, you can heat it in a pan under a lid, adding a small amount of water to the pan. The resulting steam will soften the simit, but make sure that the water does not touch the bagel itself.
Wet bread is not the most appetizing.
Turkish simit or Turkish Bagel
- 1 kg wheat flour
- 1-2 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 600 ml warm water
- 11 g dry instant yeast (I use Saf Instant) (1 sachet)
- 150 ml pekmez (+75 ml of water)
- 250-300 g white sesame seeds
- Add salt, sugar and dry instant yeast to the warm water. Stir to mix. Add the liquid to the flour and knead the dough with a mixer or your hands.Place the dough on a work surface and roll into a ball. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.
- Roast the sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium heat until golden brown and brightly nutty.In a bowl, mix the pecmes with 75 ml. water and stir until smooth. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven on the top + bottom to 230 °C (450 °F).Place the dough on a work surface, divide into 12-14 pieces, roll each into a ball, transfer to an uncovered work surface or baking tray with a little flour and cover with a damp towel.
- Take a ball of dough and divide it into 2 equal parts, roll each part into a ball and then with the palm of your hand roll it into a 40-45 cm long roll.Place the two rolls side by side and pin the left ends together by flattening them. Roll with the palm of your hand so that the bundles are intertwined with each other. Fold the ends crosswise and slightly flatten to glue.Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet and make 3 more billets.
- Dip the dough pieces in the cake mix and then roll in sesame seeds. Place on a baking tray and repeat with the remaining dough pieces.Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.While one batch is baking, prepare the billets for the next batch.
- I used one baking tray, so I had to divide my 14 simitas into 3 batches. For the last one, I used a mixture of white sesame and nigella (black cumin).The simitas are most delicious while they're still warm. So don't put it off, serve it right away.