Simit is one of the favorites in street-fare found around Istanbul. Baked fresh daily, the best of them in wood fired ovens, these treats can look a little bland to the uneducated. What a delightful surprise once you give in and get one that is fresh from the fire place mantle.
Ours (pictured above) are nowhere near as refined as those which come from the hands of the skilled artisans who make them daily. But they are a nice reminder of the things you eventually take for granted while on the ground in Turkey and eventually miss when you come home.
Our dough recipe is
3.5 cups of plain white flour – bleached or unbleached.
2.5 teaspoons of active dry yeast.
1 and 1/3 cups room temperature spring water.
1.5 teaspoons of salt.
Mix all of the ingredients together and allow the yeast to activate and rise. We do not pre-activate our yeast any more. It just seems like an unnecessary step, other than it does help speed along the process. I choose to just mix it in and let it rise when it wants to. Once it rises, punch it down and wait for it to rise again. That is when you can knock it down one more time and begin to roll the simits. The video below will show you the process in great detail.
The molasses mentioned in the video (uzum pekmezi) is available from most Turkish markets. I don’t recall seeing anything like it in American markets. One of our favorite Turkish markets is Amity Market in Fairfax City. We source a great deal of meat, breads, fish, fruit jams, jellies and spices from there – among other things.
One note I can pass along is that it is much easier to do this with a firm dough. The process of dipping it in the pekmez makes the dough very soft and harder to work with if it was soft to begin with. Just mix the pekmez with a little water to thin it. Buy yourself a heaping helping of the highest quality sesame seeds you can find. Form your dough, mix it with the pekmez, dip it in the seeds being sure to coat all over. then place it in a pre-heated 440 degree oven with a baking or pizza stone in it until well browned. Set aside – eat while still warm with tea and maybe a little cream cheese. I like mine plain. They taste wonderful all by themselves.
Below is a video hosted by my friend, television host and voice over artist, Andy Boyns – who lives and works in Istanbul.