As part of our culinary preparation for a trip to Turkey this summer, Tony gave me Ghillie Basan’s Classic Turkish Cooking for Christmas. I’ve been paging through it, making lists of things I want to try (Hosmerim, which translates to “Something Nice for the Husband”) and things I don’t (I will skip Bulgar Juice, thank you very much).
But the first thing I tried was the recipe for Simit, or Sesame Bread Rings, which we will apparently find sold everywhere on the streets of Istanbul. They are easy (though kneading the dough is a tougher work out than any other dough I’ve ever encountered) and tasty — rather like bagels, but less chewy. Now all I need is to brew up some Turkish coffee and we’re almost there!
a package yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
150 ml lukewarm water
450 g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 beaten egg
Dissolve the yeast and half teaspoon of sugar in the lukewarm water and let it bubble up.
Mix the flour, salt, and tablespoon of sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast-water mixture, then add the tablespoon of oil. Stir well, then turn the mixture out on to a lightly-floured counter to knead. Add more water as necessary and knead well until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Let the dough rest a moment while you wash out the mixing bowl, dry it off, and drizzle a bit of oil into it. Put the dough into the bowl and turn it to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and leave to rise until doubled, about two hours.
Sprinkle a shallow bowl with sesame seeds.
Punch the dough down and divide into 6-8 pieces. Knead each piece and shape into a ring. Brush the rings with the beaten egg and dip into the bowl of sesame seeds. Place the rings on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet and let them rest, covered with the damp towel, for 15-20 minutes.
While the rings are resting, preheat the oven to 400.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until they’re golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.