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.
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.
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.
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.
SOURDOUGH SİMİT RECIPE
- 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.
- To prepare the dough, put the sourdough starter in the bowl of a stand mixer, add water and molasses and whisk to dissolve completely.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Half an hour before baking, set a rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 500F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Holly molly!!! I am drooling! Fantastic recipe and amazing photos!!!
Beautiful Simitia, Fernanado….I too brush mine with petimezi (so the sesame seeds stick)
great idea! I loved the colorful simit dish!
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?
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.
I absolutely love your site. Everything is so good and the pictures are amazing too!
what do you think about making this by hand, without a mixer? do-able or insane?
OmG! I want to invade your kitchen! Health to your hands Cenk!
I have your beautiful book. Because it is so heavy I could not bring it to from Turkey to US. I boought the english version here. I have not tried any recipe yet but I want to start by making simit. Can I add whole wheat flour (10-15%) ro this recipe?
Thank you! I’ve never tried adding whole wheat flour, but why not?
PS: The print tab does not function.
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?
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.
Great site. I also had a problem with the print function. Gotta try the recipe as I love toasted sesame seeds.
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.
Sandy Leonard – You have to come to Istanbul, of course!
I make simitia all the time but have never tried making them with sourdough before. Thanks for a great idea, Cenk.
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
Ruxandra @ Gourmandelle
Beautiful photos! I’m crazy about sesame seeds so I think this is beyond delicious 😀
I have recently made my own sourdough starter, so I will try this. I love the shape! Looks super!
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.
looks great.. does it really taste like sokak simidi?
i will definitely try..
sibel – Yes, it does. Hope you like it.
really fantastic! and I am waiting so much for your next post. please 🙂
Thank you cenk for this delicious recipe , it looks so beautiful .
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!
Where did you go? I’m hoping everything is ok and you are just working on your cookbook…which I am still waiting for 🙂
I miss your posts, and hope you will return soon!!
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!!: http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/rising-star-chad-robertson-of-san-franciscos-tartine-bakery-cafe/#1
Naz – Thanks for the link!
bir simit ancak bu kadar guzel gorunebilir!
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!”
Does anyone know someone delivers
“aged kasar” and “tulum cheese” in US or Canada?
oofff harika yine dokturmussun.
Yvonne (Bread Fun)
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.
Simit and Turkish tea. Happy morning :))
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!
Keşke türkiye’dede bu simitler olsa
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: http://www.coquinaria.it/forum-tavola-rotonda/
Thank you for sharing your beautiful recipe.
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
Ingela – Yes, I am familiar with the process. You don’t need to, but you can definitely try. Hope you like them!
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 🙂
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.
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.
Hi! Is the dough meant to double if bulk fermenting at room temperature?
Zay – No.
I made my dough few hours before reading this and I was wondering why my dough doesn’t rise because all simit recipes I watched used the powder (maya) instead of sourdough starter so I thought it takes time to develop, after reading your instructions this question came to again why my dough is not rising? I added more active starter (it was rising and more than double in size, it was rising again when I took most of amount and left the rest in the jar) than yours (I added about 250 grams for 400 grams of flour) but I add the salt in very first step. I went with stretch and fold process in room temp. for almost 3 hours and after that I put the dough in the fridge overnight but it didn’t rise even close to 50 percent, some rising was during the folding but I’m confused right now why it not rising. I realized you used the syrup in your recipe so different to other recipes of simit, it is because the sugar for feeding your dough to rise? or just for the taste? I brought it out from fridge 10 minutes ago. ant advise?
Hard to tell. I understand that you’ve used another recipe. It may be due to adding the salt at the beginning.
so it was had to shape not bad at the end, I found my dough very sticky and slack, is it suppose to be for sourdough? because all the soughs I watched in the simit videos were firm and had elasticity. you didn’t answer this question why you added the syrup or molasses (as I consider it as sugar) to your recipe? for taste or developing the yeast? I was wondering maybe I added too much of starter or the amount of water changed the hydration level. another question I have is when is the best time to use the starter? when it’s rising (almost double in size) or when it goes down after reaching the highest level (triple in size or even higher)?
p.s: I found this on youtube
it is very different to your recipe. they didn’t answer to my comment. I also post a comment on your instagram page. maybe you could make the video about sourdogh simit or other things related to sourdough. I’m very beginner in this matter but it’s very exciting to explore and learn.
No, the dough should be fairly easy to work with. I add molasses to develop the yeast, but it is not a mandatory element. Best time to use the starter is when it is hungry (when it goes down after reaching the highest level). I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll be able to find the time to shoot a video. By the way, there’s a yeasted version of this recipe in my book The Artful Baker, in case you don’t want to deal with sourdough until you get some experience.
have you ever tried to freeze the baked simit? Would be great to have some in the freezer and reheat upon need in just a few minutes.
Of course. But I always slice them so that I can put them in the toaster as soon as I take them out of the freezer.
Hello from Thailand. Just reading this blog and it makes me drool already. I’ve never had one of this before but I’m going to try to make it today. Thanks for the recipes!
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe- I love simit and I love sourdough too! Just to clarify, does this make 6 or 12 simits? I am unsure of step 5:
“..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..” Do you mean cut in the middle of each 35″ strand creating 12 pieces in total?
It makes 6 simits. Yes, you’ll cut the 35-inch-long strand in half, creating 12 pieces in total. 2 pieces make 1 simit. You can do the final proof in the fridge overnight, but make sure they are 1.5 times their size (depends on the strength of your starter). If not, let stand at room temperature until they rise a bit more.
Also, do you think it’s possible to do the final proof, after shaping, over night in the fridge so one can have fresh simit in the morning for breakfast? Thank you!
Hello, I have question. I don’t know why my so it’s after baking become so hard.
Simit is supposed to be a bit hard, but if it is too hard to even take a bite, something must have gone wrong. You might have not proofed the dough long enough or baked it for too long.