Simit, Turkish bagel
I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a long time, there are so many that I have in mind that are accumulating. But finally it was its turn. I must say that it has been one of those recipes that I prepare and when I finish the photos, they last minutes. Many of you probably already know it, but for those who do not today I will show you how to make Simit or also known as Turkish bagel.
This is a round bread, shaped with a braided cord, which is then bathed in molasses or pekmez and covered with sesame seeds. The size and texture may vary depending on the area where it is made.
The word Simit comes from the Arabic “samīd” (سميد), which means “white bread” or “fine flour“. In Macedonia we can find it as “ѓеврек” and in Bulgaria as “геврек“. Other places where we can find this variety of bread is in Turkey, Greece, Serbia, part of the Balkans, Middle East, Egypt and Lebanon.
In İzmir it is known as “gevrek” which means “crunchy“, it is very similar to the variety that we can find in Istanbul. In Ankara they have a smaller and crunchier format.
This variety of bread is said to have a long history in Istanbul. Its origin dates back to the year 1525 and, since then, various sources have been found in which this bread is shown:
- The traveler’s diary Evliya Çelebi mentioned 70 bakeries that made Simit in Istanbul during the 1630s.
- Jean Brindesi‘s oil paintings of daily life in Istanbul in the early 19th century showed Simit merchants in the streets.
- Warwick Goble also illustrated Simit’s merchants in Istanbul in 1906.
It didn’t take long for it to become popular throughout the Ottoman Empire.
Simit is usually served alone or accompanied by tea, fruit, cheese or ayran (a very popular Turkish drink made with yoghurt made from sheep’s milk and water) if it is to be enjoyed at breakfast.
In Turkey it is usual to find it in street carts, large cars with a lot of Simit piled. They announce the state of the simit as follows; if it has been baked on the same day “Taze simit!”/”Taze gevrek!“, if it is hot “Sıcak, sıcak!” and if it is too hot to burn our hands, “The yakıyor!” It is considered an important symbol for the lower/middle class in Turkey.
In other parts of the Middle East is consumed with boiled eggs and dukkah (mixture of seeds, nuts and spices), also commonly used to break the fast in mosques.
Preparing them at home.
Carrying out this type of bread is really simple. Its ingredients are very basic and we will be able to consume them on the same day we make them. Perhaps the only element that can be different is molasses or pekmez. This last one is a dense syrup elaborated from a fruit juice, we can find it of grape, figs or blackberry.
In my case I have made a homemade molasses syrup using dark mascabado sugar, which is a type of unrefined cane sugar. The taste provided by this bath along with sesame is simply extraordinary. Not to mention the crunchy texture on the outside and incredibly tender and soft inside.
Ingredients for 6 pieces
FOR THE DOUGH:
- 400 g AP/plain flour
- 235 g water
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1,8 g dry yeast + 5 g water
- 7,2 g salt
- 115 g muscovado sugar + 90 g water
Make the dough for Simit.
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of the stand mixer add the flour together with water. Mix until completely amalgamated, there should not be any part of dry flour. To mix it can be done manually or in a kneader using the hook, always mix at the lowest speed for 2-3 minutes maximum.
- Incorporate salt and mix again.
- Add yeast. Dissolve it with water and pour into the dough.
- Knead well until it is fully integrated.
- Finally, add the olive oil and knead again until a completely homogeneous and smooth dough is obtained.
- Transfer to a clean work surface, finish kneading by hand and put the dough in an airtight container previously greased with olive oil.
- Cover with its corresponding lid or film, to prevent the dough from drying out, and make bulk fermentation of 2 hours at 80ºF (27º C). It should rise double of its volume (the time will depend on the temperature of your home).
- On a clean work surface, turn the dough over and degass it gently.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, about 3,88 oz (110 g) each.
- Preshape, cover with film and let stand for 20 minutes.
While the dough rests, prepare the mixture to bathe the Simits.
- In a bowl dissolve the moscabado sugar with lukewarm water. We must completely dissolve the sugar.
- Set aside.
- Line one baking tray with parchment, set aside.
- Take one of the portions of dough and begin to give elongated shape, try not to manipulate the dough in excess in this step so that it does not acquire tension. Otherwise it will cost you a lot to shape the cord because it will contract.
- With the help of both hands, stretch the dough trying to give the shape of an elongated cord. We will give a length of 17,7 inches/45 cm approximately.
- Once we have stretched the cord, take one end and join with the other. So that the cord is bent in half.
Take the ends with each one of the hands and begin to turn the cord of the way that I show in the video.
- Join the ends and roll with one hand to seal the joint well.
- Repeat the process with the rest of the pieces.
Dip and cover with sesame.
- Take the bagel and dip both sides in the molasses mixture.
- Drain lightly and batter with sesame trying to cover the entire surface.
- Place on the tray and repeat the process with the rest of the pieces.
- Cover it with film and let it lift until they double in size, in my case they were for 70 minutes at 84,2ºF (29ºC).
- Preheat oven to 390ºF (200ºC).
- Place in the oven at medium height and bake for 20 minutes, they will take a nice golden color.
- Remove and allow to cool completely on a rack.
- Remember that the type of flour we use will condition the final hydration of our dough. We can notice a slight difference depending on this element, for that reason we should work the dough observing it and add more or less hydration.
- If you wish, you can let the dough stand in the fridge overnight. Let it rise a little less than 1/3 and refrigerate it until the next day. Before working with it you will have to temper it for a couple of hours.
- The molasses bath can be elaborated with pekmez, molasses or cane honey diluted with a little water or with the syrup that I have shown you in the elaboration.
- Preservation: These breads are perfect the same day we bake them, from there they begin to lose their sponginess and texture.
These Simit or Turkish bagels, as they are also called, are absolutely perfect to enjoy at any time of day. Their taste, texture and ingredients allow you to enjoy them both at breakfast, snack and to accompany any meal throughout the day.
I encourage you to prepare them as soon as possible! I promise that you will not regret it. Besides, I have no doubt that they will become part of your homemade bread.
I wish you a happy start to the week!