Sourdough Simit

April 25th, 2013  | Category: Bread

Sourdough Simit

I have a friend who doesn’t know what a sourdough starter is. Worrying, to say the least. What’s even more worrying is that she still ordered it and when it arrived, asked me to guide her through “a quick recipe” on the phone. “I have an hour before my boyfriend arrives and I want to surprise him with a homemade bread,” she naively begged.

Where do I start?

Tartine’s Basic Country Bread is certainly out of the question. Actually, anything that has the word “sourdough” before it is out of the question.

Trying my best to be patient, I explained her that “quick” and “sourdough” are two words that don’t belong in the same sentence and guided her through a basic flatbread recipe I developed on the spot. Not that it needed any type of leavening, but just so that her first sourdough starter didn’t end up in the trash bin. This made me realize that my blog was in dire need of a “relatively quick” sourdough bread recipe. One that didn’t need multiple folds with hours of waiting in between or any type of special equipment (a Dutch oven is in the “special equipment” category for her). And I knew exactly what I should be working on. A recipe that I started developing right after my first sourdough bread, but had to be put on hold for the book: Sourdough Simit.

Sourdough Simit Recipe

Simit is a circular Turkish bread encrusted with sesame seeds. Some say it is similar to a bagel, but aside from its shape, I really can’t see any other similarities.

If you’ve ever visited Turkey, you must have seen street vendors selling them from their trolley or carrying them on a tray on top of their head everywhere. That’s the real deal. We call it “sokak simidi” (street simit), which is much denser and crustier than the imposters sold at some bakeries. When you see a simit trolley, look around –  there’s always Turkish tea nearby. And not only on the streets; in my childhood, a ferry ride in Istanbul without simit and tea was unthinkable.

Sourdough Simits

But here’s something you can’t find anywhere on the streets: Sourdough simit. Despite its popularity, I’ve never come across a sourdough variety. So I had to bake it myself.

Sourdough Simit Kaşar

I’ve enjoyed the first two with aged Kaşar cheese in the middle and cherry tomatoes with olive oil & dried mint on the side at breakfast. The next day, a couple of them went in the oven with cheese in the middle (again, with tea) and the remaining two became croutons for my favorite Chicken Caesar Salad.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.




  • 5.25 ounces (150 g) sourdough starter
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons (280 g) water, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (20 g) molasses*
  • 3,5 cups (490 g) bread flour
  • 1+1/4 teaspoons (10 g) fine sea salt


  • 2 tablespoons (40 g) molasses*
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) water, boiling
  • 1+1/4 cups (200 g) sesame seeds, toasted**

* I prefer grape molasses.

** You can toast sesame seeds in a wide, dry, non-stick frying pan on medium heat, shaking the pan every 20-30 seconds for even toasting until they start to shine, turn golden-brown and smell fragrant, which takes about 20 minutes. To toast them in an oven, pour them on a half-sheet pan and bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for 8-10 minutes, until golden and fragrant.


  1. To prepare the dough, put the sourdough starter in the bowl of a stand mixer, add water and molasses and whisk to dissolve completely.
  2. Switch to a dough hook, add flour and mix on slow speed for 2-3 minutes, then increase the speed to medium-high and mix for 7-8 minutes more, until you obtain a smooth and slightly sticky dough. Cover with plastic and let rest for half an hour at room temperature.
  3. Tear the dough into walnut-sized pieces, add salt and mix on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until the dough comes together and absorbs the salt completely. Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled in volume, for 3-4 hours at room temperature, or (preferably) in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. If you’re letting it rise in the refrigerator overnight, bring the dough to room temperature by letting it sit on the counter, covered, for 2-3 hours before the next step.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface, flatten and divide into six equal pieces, each about 5.25 ounces (150 g). Roll each piece into a 35-inch-long and an-inch-thick strand, cut in the middle, place them side-by-side, pinch the ends, twist the strands by rolling in opposite directions from each end and pinch to join the ends. Place the rings on baking sheets, cover loosely with plastic and let rise for about 2 hours, until 1.5 times their size. At this point, each simit will measure around 5.5 inches in diameter.
  6. Half an hour before baking, set a rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 500F.
  7. Pour molasses into a bowl big enough to fit a shaped dough, pour boiling water on top and whisk to dissolve the molasses completely. Put the sesame seeds in another large, shallow bowl.
  8. One roll at a time, dip them into the water, lift and wait for a few seconds to drain the excess water, place them on the sesame seeds, press slightly, turn over and press slightly again, this time to encrust the other side and transfer them to the baking sheets. During this process, simits will stretch naturally and will measure around 7 inches in diameter.
  9. Decrease the oven temperature to 400 F and bake, one tray at a time, until golden, for about 25 minutes. Cool on a rack and serve while still warm.
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  1. 1 - Ozlem on April 25th, 2013

    Holly molly!!! I am drooling! Fantastic recipe and amazing photos!!!

  2. 2 - Peter on April 25th, 2013

    Beautiful Simitia, Fernanado….I too brush mine with petimezi (so the sesame seeds stick)

  3. 3 - bulbulgulsum on April 26th, 2013


  4. 4 - emelll on April 26th, 2013

    great idea! I loved the colorful simit dish!

  5. 5 - Hatice on April 26th, 2013

    I used to know a sourdough bread since i was a teenager those times we lived in Vakfikebir, and was wondering if it is the same popular thing that is being mentioned in cookbooks, Kantin bakery and this blog. I’ ve latetly tasted it in Kantin, yes it is the same sour taste i don’t basically like. So this is not my type. But i quicklt fell in love with the gorgeus aqua green napkin aside your dish. Again a purchase from Ebay, or sth handmade?

  6. 6 - Cenk on April 26th, 2013

    Hatice – If you don’t like the sour taste, then just let the dough rise at room temperature and not in the refrigerator. I bought the napkin at eBay.

  7. 7 - yeshi on April 26th, 2013

    I absolutely love your site. Everything is so good and the pictures are amazing too!

  8. 8 - roxy on April 26th, 2013

    what do you think about making this by hand, without a mixer? do-able or insane?

  9. 9 - Aysegul on April 26th, 2013

    OmG! I want to invade your kitchen! Health to your hands Cenk!

  10. 10 - Aysegul on April 26th, 2013

    PS: The print tab does not function.

  11. 11 - Olga@Delicious Istanbul on April 26th, 2013

    Fantastic! I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, so great you’ve pioneered, Cenk! And your simit looks so chic when styled) I wonder if using sourdough improves keeping qualities of simit: usually I find that simit however amazing looses its texture just in a few hours after being baked. What about the sourdough version?

  12. 12 - Cenk on April 26th, 2013

    roxy – Totall do-able.

    Aysegul – Thanks. I’ll look into the print function.

    Olga – Thank you! It keeps very well for a day, but really needs to be toasted the day after.

  13. 13 - irene on May 6th, 2013

    really fantastic.

  14. 14 - Ted on May 7th, 2013

    Great site. I also had a problem with the print function. Gotta try the recipe as I love toasted sesame seeds.

  15. 15 - Sandy Leonard on May 8th, 2013

    This looks so good. I wonder if I can make them here in Boston. Or do I have to come to Istanbul for a lesson? Best wishes, Cenk.

  16. 16 - Cenk on May 10th, 2013

    Sandy Leonard – You have to come to Istanbul, of course!

  17. 17 - Magda on May 24th, 2013

    I make simitia all the time but have never tried making them with sourdough before. Thanks for a great idea, Cenk.

  18. 18 - Patrick on May 30th, 2013

    Great recipe , I asked my partner to do this, I can’t cook to save myself sadly, and it was lovely. We really enjoyed the taste thank you

  19. 19 - Ruxandra @ Gourmandelle on June 9th, 2013

    Beautiful photos! I’m crazy about sesame seeds so I think this is beyond delicious 😀

  20. 20 - Tami on June 25th, 2013

    I have recently made my own sourdough starter, so I will try this. I love the shape! Looks super!

  21. 21 - Fragolina on June 30th, 2013

    hi cenk. you are right, the ride on a ferry in Istanbul should be accompanied with a simit and a cup of tea, and also the biscuit”halva”. oh yummiii, i miss Istanbul.

  22. 22 - sibel on July 10th, 2013

    looks great.. does it really taste like sokak simidi?
    i will definitely try..

  23. 23 - Cenk on July 15th, 2013

    sibel – Yes, it does. Hope you like it.

  24. 24 - ilona on July 18th, 2013

    really fantastic! and I am waiting so much for your next post. please 🙂

  25. 25 - Safa on July 28th, 2013

    Thank you cenk for this delicious recipe , it looks so beautiful .

  26. 26 - Anel on August 22nd, 2013

    Drooooool! I’m in love with your blog! You are on my ‘favourite persons’ pin board Cenk. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing and thanks!

  27. 27 - Maggie on October 8th, 2013

    Where did you go? I’m hoping everything is ok and you are just working on your cookbook…which I am still waiting for 🙂

  28. 28 - Ana on October 14th, 2013


    I miss your posts, and hope you will return soon!!

  29. 29 - Naz on November 4th, 2013

    Since you are a Tartine fan, I wanted to make sure that you read this–if you have not already. Chad Robertson was in American Vogue!!:

  30. 30 - Cenk on December 7th, 2013

    Naz – Thanks for the link!

  31. 31 - Beylem on December 12th, 2013

    bir simit ancak bu kadar guzel gorunebilir!

  32. 32 - Beylem on December 13th, 2013

    Ok, let’s try it in English then:)This is one of the simplest yet traditional snack for us and I could have never imagined that a photo of simit can make me go “yum!”

  33. 33 - Bahar on January 12th, 2014

    Does anyone know someone delivers
    “aged kasar” and “tulum cheese” in US or Canada?

  34. 34 - eni on February 5th, 2014

    oofff harika yine dokturmussun.

  35. 35 - Yvonne (Bread Fun) on March 14th, 2014

    The sourdough simit bread is a delectable meal and just top it off with a cup of tea. what a fantastic website and beautiful pictures.

  36. 36 - Merve on March 19th, 2014

    Simit and Turkish tea. Happy morning :))

  37. 37 - Mahtab on May 20th, 2014

    I hope you update this blog soon! It’s one of my favourites. I check back periodically to see if there are any new posts. It’s so good!

  38. 38 - Haber Sabah on May 24th, 2014

    Keşke türkiye’dede bu simitler olsa

  39. 39 - Francesca on March 15th, 2015

    I prepared your simits:they taste great: I let the dough rise the whole night at room temperature,in the morning I formed the rings and let rise for other fuor hours. Then I boiled one at a time for one minute in boiling water with a spoon of grapes molasses, darained from the excess of water and I baked them di in the oven, with roasted sesame seeds on top. I found this boiling procedure -very similar to the one of bagels- in an Italian site:
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful recipe.

  40. 40 - Ingela on August 6th, 2015

    Hi Cenk! I was just doing a search today, to find out if there was such a thing as sour dough simit. That is how I found your site. Looks really delicious. I was reading through the process, and when it came to the last steps, I had an idea. Do you know the process of baking bagels? Where, after rising, they put the bagels into pot of boiling water for a minute or two ? Then they have seeds on. I wonder if this could be in idea for the simits, too. Thank you for this wonderful site. -Ingela

  41. 41 - Kylie on August 24th, 2015

    This looks like the one sold in Istanbul streets. Yummmm! I plan to give it a try when I have time even though this is a quick recipe 🙂

  42. 42 - Cenk on September 22nd, 2015

    Ingela – Yes, I am familiar with the process. You don’t need to, but you can definitely try. Hope you like them!

  43. 43 - Pains Simit au levain - Floured on April 14th, 2017

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  44. 44 - Oia on June 18th, 2017

    Hi,thanks for your exceptional recipe,i wonder that why my dough is so sticky?!!could you please help me with this ?thank you in advance.

  45. 45 - Cenk on July 4th, 2017

    Oia – If the dough is too sticky, try rolling it with some additional flour but make sure to brush the excess off before you shape the dough.

  46. 46 - Zay on September 6th, 2017

    Hi! Is the dough meant to double if bulk fermenting at room temperature?

  47. 47 - Cenk on September 11th, 2017

    Zay – No.

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