Simit is a traditional Turkish sesame bread. One of the most popular Turkish street foods, this soft, sumptuous bread is easily made with simple ingredients. It features a soft pillowy inside accentuated by a molasses and sesame seed-coated exterior.
When I was in Istanbul, and throughout Turkey, these were seen each morning stacked 20 high on top of street vendors heads. It was the first time I had eaten one and I was hooked after the first bite! First the aroma hits you, then the sweet crunch from the molasses and sesame seeds. Inside was a fluffy bread that had me wanting them every morning.
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Turkish simit can be enjoyed as a snack, for breakfast, as an appetizer, and more. Although sometimes described as “Turkish bagels,” simit is quite different.
Bagels are boiled and end up with a dense consistency. Simit, on the other hand, is simply coated and baked, rendering it far airier and fluffier.
You get everything you love about a classic bagel without so much dense breadiness. Make one batch of these sesame bread rings and you’ll never look back!
Check out the video below!
Watch the video in the recipe card below to see exactly how these Simit are made.
- Flour – Easy, accessible all-purpose flour is all we need for this recipe.
- Sugar – Adds harmonizing sweetness to the dough.
- Instant Yeast – Allows the dough to rise, giving our sesame bread rings a light, fluffy texture.
- Salt – Adds volume and structure as it enhances flavor.
- Water – Make sure to use warm water for the smoothest and fluffiest texture.
- Oil – A vegetable oil, like canola or sunflower, adds moisture and richness.
- Molasses – Coats the simit with thick fruity sweetness. You can use the traditional grape molasses or try it with pomegranate molasses.
- Sesame Seeds – Add a sweet, earthy, and nutty flavor and a delightful texture, especially when toasted. If untoasted, toast for several minutes in a pan over medium heat, until they are golden brown.
- Combine Ingredients. Sift the all-purpose flour, sugar, and yeast into the bowl of your stand mixer. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then add the vegetable oil and warm water.
- Mix the Dough. Fit your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and mix until the dough comes together. If needed, adjust the consistency of the dough by adding a tablespoon of either water or flour. Use water if your dough is too dry and flour if your dough is too wet.
- Knead the Dough. Continuing with the dough hook, knead the dough for about 8 minutes or until it is no longer sticky. The dough and bowl should look completely clean.
- Let it Rise. Use a linen towel to cover the bowl and set it aside for one hour. The dough will double in size as it rises.
- Prepare for Assembly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the water and molasses, then place the sesame seeds in a separate, shallow dish. Set aside.
- Divide & Roll. After an hour has passed, punch down the dough and separate it into 16 equal portions. Take 2 portions and roll them into the shape of a breadstick — you want each one to form a 20-inch tube. Start with a rectangle-shaped piece and use open-palmed hands to roll the dough away from you as you gently stretch it longer. Do this over and over until you form long pieces.
- Twist & Pinch. Lay the 2 long pieces of dough side by side and pinch to secure the ends together. Form a spiral twist near each end of the dough in opposite directions. Then, bring the two ends together, pinching to form a ring. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining 14 dough pieces. You should end up with 8 rings total.
- Dip & Coat. Dip and coat each ring in the molasses mixture and then the sesame seeds. Take care to completely cover each ring with sesame seeds. Return to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining rings.
- Rise Again. Use a linen towel to cover the dough rings and let them rise for another 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Bake & Enjoy. Bake the sesame bread rings until golden brown, or for about 14 minutes. Let them cool slightly before serving.
While the terms simit and gevrek are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference. Both are sesame bread rings that are formed from the same dough — and both are dipped in molasses, coated in sesame seeds, and baked.
In gevrek recipes, however, the molasses-dipped ring gets a quick fry before being seeded and baked, adding an element of crispiness.
Turkish simit is the perfect food for a light breakfast or snack. Enjoy it alongside cheese, vegetables, and your favorite dips and spreads. You can also slice it and use it as sandwich bread.
Homemade simit will stay fresh for 2-3 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Or, you can transfer your sesame bread rings to a freezer-safe bag to freeze for up to 3 months.
Once ready to enjoy again, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in the toaster or oven.
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This post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes February, 2021, was updated with new content, photos and/or video in June, 2023.
Turkish Simit (Sesame Bread Rings)
- 1/4 cup grape molasses (See Note 1)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cups toasted sesame seeds (See Note 2)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer sift in the flour then add the sugar, yeast and salt. Make a small well in center and add the wet ingredients (warm water and vegetable oil).
- Mix using a dough hook until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water if too wet, add a tablespoon of flour.
- Knead the dough using the dough hook for about 8 minutes until it’s no longer sticky. The dough should completely clean the inside of the bowl.
- Cover with linen towel and let it rise for 1 hour (it doubles in size).
- Place sesame seeds in large shallow dish. Whisk together the molasses with water. Set both aside.
- After 1 hour, punch the dough down and divide it into 16 pieces. Roll out 2 pieces into 20 inch tubes (like a breadstick).I first form the dough piece into a rectangle shape and starting from the center using both hands open, press and roll to yourself while spreading fingers to stretch dough. Repeat over and over along the dough to form long pieces.
- Lay them parallel to each other. Pinch each end together to hold and then twist the dough in opposite directions to make spiral twist. Bring both the ends together and pinch them to make a ring. Set aside on parchment lined baking sheet.Repeat with the remaining 14 pieces to make 7 more rings.
- Using one hand dip each ring in molasses mixture, turning to coat then in sesame seeds. Be sure to completely coat in sesame seeds. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining rings.
- Cover loosely with linen towel and let it rise for another 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Bake for 14 minutes until golden brown. Best eaten after cooled slightly or allow to cool completely and store in airtight container or wrap in bag and seal.
- Traditionally grape molasses is used, but I have also used pomegranate molasses.
- If you do not have toasted sesame seeds, toast the sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat, until golden, for several minutes.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.