Saturday, May 4, 2013

Simit - Turkish Sesame Ring | Enjoy your cuppa

I love the months of March, April and May. March as its my daughters Birthday month and April and May being the vacation months here. I love being lazy on April and May. No schools, can travel to my mom's place, simply laze around I can give several reasons of  doing no or less work in April and May. 

But once I started blogging, I find this urge to continue in April and May. Ofcourse these days my blogging is almost nil but I still try out items and sometimes drafts are ready and I have to push myself to click publish. :) But still I do try.Especially I love baking breads in these months. I know the dough will double faster and I can finish baking and clicking by teatime and enjoy the bread almost warm from the oven. One such bread I recently tried was the Turkish Simit.

Simit is sesame crusted crisp circular bread originally from Turkey, but common is Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia and other parts of Middle East.There are several versions or regional differences and the chewiness/crispiness of the bread varies accordingly. 

Simit is called Turkish Bagels in USA. They are made in Turkey by dipping into molasses syrup rather than boiling in water as bagels though. I have adapted the recipe for simit from Farida's AZCookbook and it is originally from Ayla Agar's "Classical Turkish Cooking".I have just made one-fourth of the recipe and given below is my estimates. but feel free to do the original.

Ingredients:
All Purpose Flour: 1 cup
Salt: 3/8 tsp

Water: 1+ 4 tbsp
Instant Yeast: 1/2 tsp
Sugar: 1 pinch

Dipping: 
Molasses: 2 tbsp
Water: 2 tbsp

Topping:
Sesame Seeds

Preparation:

In a small bowl, mix together yeast, sugar and 1 tbsp of water. Let stand for about 5-10 minutes until frothy.

This is to be followed especially with active dry yeast and is optional for instant yeast. In case of active dry yeast add another 1/4 tsp more to the quantity mentioned. I had tried adding instant yeast directly and this manner also and both has worked.

In a big bowl or counter top. mix together flour and salt and make a well in the centre, add in the yeast mix  (or yeast itself) and remaining water and work/knead  in to get to tight,stiff,elastic and smooth dough.

 Place it in a greased bowl, turning once to get coated with oil/butter and let it rest until doubled for about 1-2 hours. Mine took barely an hour to double.

Once doubled, knead it few more times and turn into a roll. Divide the roll into equal size pieces. I tried dividing equally but still ended up with 6 pieces. But thats ok. It doesn't affect the taste or texture anyways.

Roll each piece into a round ball and let it rest under a plastic wrap or damp towel for about 30 minutes until puffy.

Roll out each round ball into a long rope of say 5 inches. Then hold down one end of the rope with one hand and twist the rope with the other. Form a long ring by pressing and overlapping the ends togehter on the workspace or countertop.

 I went for a medium thick rope of 5 inches which after twisting becaome another 2 inches long. The original recipe with the exact measurements goes for 14 inch long rope. But when I tried to match it or ttried for a long rope, I found the ends breaking and 5 inches worked well for me with an addition 2 more inches after twisting.

Place the rings on a greased baking sheet/counter top  and let it rest for another hour when it turns puffy or  almost doubled.Meanwhile dust another bakign sheet with semolina/ cornmeal and keep aside. 
Also prepare a dipping solution by mixing molases and water. Keep your sesame seeds ready in a wide bowl/plate.

Once rested, take each simit and dip into the molasses water solution then dip in the sesame seeds and make sure it gets coated on all sides thickly with sesame. Place in the semolina dusted baking sheet and try elongating the simits by stretching it out on the baking sheet. place the simits a few inches apart from one another and use another baking sheet if needed.

Let the simits rest for another 30 minutes or until well puffed.



Preheat the oven to 390F (198.9 ~ 200 C). I went for 190C only and few minutes of longer baking time
Bake the simits in oven for about 15-20 minutes (or few minutes more depending on baking temperature) until rich brown in colour.



Take out and enjoy warm simits with tea or coffee or your choice of beverage. You will not be disappointed.


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