Turkish simit is a delicious sesame crusted bread that you can have for breakfast. Learn how to make traditional simit recipe at home with this step-by-step tutorial.
We love all kinds of Turkish recipes and you guys have been raving about them too! We've shown you how to make Turkish eggs (cilbir), Turkish pide bread and Turkish yogurt soup (yayla corbasi). Now it's time for one of the most iconic Turkish breads out there: Simit, a beautiful bread shapes like a ring, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.
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If you love bread recipes as much as we do or if you enjoy bread baking as much as we do, you're going to love today's recipe. This Traditional Turkish bread is a little bit of a project but it's so fun to make and it's so tasty with all the toasted sesame seeds.
What is simit?
Simit is a sesame crusted, circular bread from Turkey. Also known as Turkish bagel, Gevrek or Koulouri, this crusty bread is probably the most common bread in Turkey. It's usually served for breakfast and it always has a ring shape.
Simit is usually sold in carts in Istanbul and the people who sell them are called simitci.
As you probably know by now, I lived in Istanbul for a few years and it's my second home. Once we moved to the US, one thing that I was missing the most was simit. We could barely find it in some Turkish and Mediterranean shops but they were usually frozen which were nowhere close to the freshly baked ones we used to get. That's why we now make our own Turkish simit at home.
How is Turkish simit different from bagels?
Probably the only similarity between simit and bagels is that they're both circular. Simit is not as thick and it's crustier than bagel. The texture of simit is lighter compared to bagels and traditionally, they're fully coated in sesame seeds.
What makes this Turkish bread different than any other bread out there is that it's dipped in a molasses and water mixture before being rolled in a pool of sesame seeds.
Traditional simit ingredients
There are so many recipes for this transitional Turkish bread out there and some have ingredients as simple as flour, water and yeast. It took us a few tries to perfect this recipe for simit and get it as close to the ones you would find in a Turkish bakery.
Like many other bread recipes out there, a classic simit recipe calls for the following ingredients:
Flour: You can use all purpose flour or bread flour. Whole wheat flour would make the simit a bit tough therefore I don't recommend using it.
Yeast: If using instant yeast, simply add it to the dry ingredients. However, if using active dry yeast, you need to activate it in warm water (between 105 and 110 degrees F).
Salt and sugar: Use kosher salt or table salt and granulated sugar.
Vegetable oil: You can use canola oil as well.
Molasses and sesame seeds: These are used to coat the simit before baking. You can use classic molasses, grape or mulberry molasses that you can find in Mediterranean or middle eastern shops. The molasses and water combination gives this circular bread that unique brown color complimented by a very slight sweetness.
How to make simit at home
- Start by placing 4 cups of flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a stand mixer bowl. Add in warm water and vegetable oil. Make sure the water is not too hot or too cold. The water you use to make bread should be warm to touch.
- Mix using the dough hook until the dough comes together and is a little sticky. If the dough is too sticky and sticks to the bowl, start adding the 5th cup of flour one tablespoon at a time. You will probably need only 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour.
- Once the dough has come together and is a little sticky, it's time to knead the dough. Knead the simit dough using a dough hook for about 8 minutes until it's not sticky anymore. Cover the bowl and let it rise for 1.5 hours until it doubles in size.
- Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds and in a shallow and wide dish (like a pie dish) whisk together the molasses and water.
- After 1.5 hours, check on the simit dough which must have doubled by now. Carefully punch in down and knead it for a few seconds. Divide the dough into 16 pieces.
- Roll out two of the dough pieces into 25 inch tubes each. Place them parallel to each other and roll in opposite directions to make a twist (check out the step-by-step photos). Meet and pinch the ends on both sides together to form a circle. Repeat with the remaining 14 pieces to make 7 more simits. An alternative method would be to divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll out to have a 40-45 inch tube, then fold it and twist it.
- Dip each twisted dough in the molasses and water combination and make sure it's covered on both sides. Then dip them in toasted sesame seeds and ensure they are fully coated.
- Let the dough circles rest for another 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake the simits in the oven for 12-15 minutes until they are brown and fully baked.
Simit is traditionally served for breakfast with white (feta) cheese or labneh, cucumbers and tomatoes. Sometimes, you can find Simit sandwiches made with cheese such as mozzarella plus some tomatoes. It's also common to have simit on its own as a snack or with a glass of cold Ayran (Turkish yogurt drink).
That being said, you can serve this round sesame bread with almost any kind of cheese you like. We also love having it with jam or chocolate spreads, needless to say that tahini and molasses is another favorite spread that compliments this Turkish bread very nicely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Storing bread is very important especially when it comes to homemade bread. Because they don't contain any preservatives, homemade bread can go bad easily if you don't store it properly. You can use a plastic bag to store simits.
Place the leftover simits in a plastic bag and tie a knot to make sure it's not in contact with air. You can also wrap them in a cloth and place them in a bread box. Simit usually lasts for about 2-3 days, however I prefer to have it fresh. You can also reheat leftover simit in the oven right before serving.
If you own a stand mixer, definitely use it for this recipe. However, if you don't own one, simply use a large bowl and a wooden spoon (and later your hands) to make simit. Both approaches work for this traditional Turkish bread recipe.
Sesame is the main flavor of this bread so use it generously. You can always store and use the leftover sesame seeds. These days you can also find simits coated with sunflower seeds or oatmeal, but the classic version always has sesame seeeds.
The main reason could be that you've added more flour than you need. Start with 4 cups of all purpose flour and add more flour (1 cup maximum) one tablespoon at a time.
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Turkish Simit Recipe (Step-by-Step Tutorial)
- 2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 4 cups all purpose flour plus 2-3 tablespoon more if needed
- 1 ½ cup warm water
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup grape molasses
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ cup sesame seeds toasted
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix sugar, yeast, 4 cups flour and salt.
- Add in warm water and vegetable oil. Mix using the dough hook until the dough comes together and is a bit sticky. If the dough is not coming together, add 2-3 tablespoons all purpose flour.
- Knead the dough using the dough hook for about 8 minutes until it's no longer sticky. Cover and let it rise for 1.5 hours until it doubles in size.
- Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds in a pan. And mix the molasses with ½ cup water.
- After 1.5 hours, punch the dough down and divide it into 16 pieces. Roll out 2 pieces into 25 inch tubes each and lay them parallel to each other.
- Roll the tubes in opposite directions to make a twist. Meet the ends and pinch them together to make a ring. Repeat with the remaining 14 pieces to make 7 more rings.
- Dip each ring in molasses and water mixture then in sesame seeds and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Cover loosely and let it rise for another 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the simits are brown and fully cooked.
- Storage: Place the leftover simits in a plastic bag and tie a knot to make sure it's not in contact with air. You can also wrap them in a cloth and place them in a bread box. Simit usually lasts for about 2-3 days, however I prefer to have it fresh. You can also reheat leftover simit in the oven right before serving. You can also freeze them for several months.
- If molasses is not available, use honey instead.
- If you own a stand mixer, definitely use it for this recipe. However, if you don't own one, simply use a large bowl and a wooden spoon (and later your hands) to make simit. Both approaches work for this traditional Turkish bread recipe.