Saturday, August 18, 2007

Turkish Simit

Saturday, August 18, 2007

When we were in Istanbul several years ago with our friends Fred and Betty, we discovered the snack bread called simit. Vendors carry baskets of them balanced on their heads while they wander through the streets. They're round and covered with sesame seeds, so I expected them to taste like bagels, but they're completely dissimilar to bagels. Although they're often referred to as Turkish croissants, they're not even yeast breads, and, in fact, they don't taste like croissants either, although they're fairly buttery.
I liked the ones I ate in Turkey and thought I would eventually try my hand at them, but they weren't at the top of my list. I didn't have anything else planned for today, though, and it seemed like a good day to give it a try. First I had to find a recipe that might be at least marginally authentic. I discarded all the ones that called for margarine because my kitchen is a margarine-free zone. I settled on a recipe from the U.K., which is closer to Turkey than we are, and had 150 grams of butter and no margarine, which must be better.
The dough is easy--mix flour, baking soda, and salt, and make a well in it. Then add beaten egg, melted butter, olive oil, and some water. Fold the ingredients together until you have a dough. Pinch off some fairly hefty pieces, roll them out into a snake, then turn them into a circle.

Brush them with more beaten egg, and then strew them with sesame seeds.

They bake for about 30 minutes. I've been using my convection oven lately, which I like a lot. For some reason, and I'm sure there is a reason, you can set it at a slightly lower heat than the recipe specifies, and it browns beautifully. I haven't burned anything yet that's been on the convection setting, although I'm sure I will eventually.


The simit were not how I remembered them, but my simit memory has probably dimmed over the past two years. They're almost like a pastry--buttery and crumbly. Spread thickly with jam, which is a good way to eat them, they're almost like eating a jam tart. A native of Turkey might scoff at my simit, but I thought they were very nice.
Afiyet olsun!

10 comments:

Melinda said...

I've never heard of simit before. Funny it should be an English recipe you found. I actually will be going to Turkey this next week with my sisters who I am meeting in Rome first.
I will have to try simit and let you know if I liked it.

evil cake lady said...

wow i'm still thinking about that first photo of the guy with all the simit on his head!

maybe yours would taste more authentic if you carried them around on your head for awhile?

breadbasketcase said...

Melinda,
Oh, do try them! You could compare them to mine, but, of course, you didn't taste mine. You'll have to try the recipe when you get back. Beware the carpet salesmen in Turkey!

ECL,
I thought about trying to get Jim to carry them on his head (I didn't see any women with simit in Istanbul), but I don't think he would have been too crazy about the idea.

Chubbypanda said...

As long as it tastes good, who cares if it's authentic? Looks delightful.

honeymonster said...

Made some tonight and they tasted like british scones to me. Did i do something wrong ?

breadbasketcase said...

Honeymonster,
Mine tasted a lot like a not-very-sweet scone as well, but Melinda (on www.pickworth.me.uk) got a recipe that was completely different than the one I used, and I think hers tasted more like bread.

sumeyye said...

Hi,
I found your blog when I was searching for bread,of course:) I am glad I did because I saw my dear "simit" over here. I am Turkish who lives in Boston and misses simit a lot.
What they use to make original simit is "grape molasses".You need to use molasses for the final wash.And we also use pretoasted sesame seeds.It gives a lot of texture and great taste.
I just opened a website.(still construction zone) I know the original recipe of the simit and am going to post (hopefully).Although my site is Turkish, I will post the English translation of the recipe for you.
Your simit looks yummy though! Enjoy baking!

breadbasketcase said...

Sumeyye,
I'd love to get an authentic recipe and try them again because mine really didn't taste much like the simit I had in Turkey. Is grape molasses like pomegranate molasses? I have some pomegranate molasses, but not grape.

sumeyye said...

Hi again,

You can see and buy the Turkish molasses in this link
http://www.tulumba.com/storeItem.asp?ic=FB500279GV134

Actually you can not use pomegranate molasses because they are very tart and sour. This one is sweet and jam -like compared to the pomegranate molasses.But if you want to make something delicious with your pomegranate molasses,make fattoush salad and use your molasses when you make the salad dressing.Its yummy! If you can't find quality sumac (which is important for the tast),I can send you some gladly :)

breadbasketcase said...

Sumeyye,
I've made a vinaigrette-style dressing using pomegranate molasses instead of vinegar, and I loved it. Fattoush is definitely on my list of things to try. We have a couple of very good Middle-
Eastern grocery stores locally, so I don't think I should have any trouble finding sumac (but how do I tell high-quality sumac from mediocre sumac?) If I can't find any, I will gladly take you up on your offer--thanks!