When we think of Turkish street food, the first word that comes to mind is Döner Kebab. But, the oldest and most popular Turkish street food is not Kebab, but Simit. Simit is a sweet bread, twisted and covered with sesame seeds.
The simit is sweet because before baking it is bath with a kind of molasses. Later we will talk in detail about these molasses, and then it is covered with sesame and sunflower seeds. This bread is also called Samid, which means "white bread". In the West, and in the US they are called Turkish Bagels.
Most likely, the Simit was first prepared by the Ottomans. With certainty, it is known that by 1525, it was already a commercial product in Istanbul. In the 17th century, there were more than 300 bakeries that only prepared simits up to five times a day. But why do the Turks love this bread?
For centuries the Turks have eaten simit, this bread is very simple to prepare and has an extraordinary flavor. But, the most important thing, is that it is very cheap, it calms hunger and you can eat while you walk or do some other work.
The simit is sold inside bakeries, by street vendors, and in small stands distributed throughout the city. This type of bread is currently popular not only in Turkey but in all countries whose territories were part of the Ottoman Empire.
How do you eat Simit?
Usually, the simit is consumed by itself. It is not necessary to fill it or spread other foods on it. Sure, those with a sweet tooth can add honey or jam on top. It is usually consumed with tea.
Besides the sweet Simit, some serve it stuffed with kaşar, sucuk (spicy sausage), or olives. It can also be eaten with feta cheese, tomato, and olives.
How are Simits made?
The preparation of the Simit is quite like that of sweet bread. The first step is to soak the yeast with a tablespoon of sugar in half a cup of warm water. After approximately fifteen minutes, the surface of the water will be covered with many bubbles. This means that the yeast was activated.
Once the yeast is active, you must proceed to add the flour, water, and the rest of the ingredients. Knead until you get a smooth and elastic dough. Which must rest at least half an hour to fluff.
Then you need to divide the dough into spheres of the same size. You will stretch these spheres to make a long strip of about 60 cm. diameter. Then the pieces of elongated dough are braided and joined at the ends to form a donut.
The last step is to dip the donuts in molasses, and then cover them with sesame seeds.
What molasses do these bagels use?
The name of molasses is known in Turkey as Pekmez. Pekmez is a thick molasses-type syrup that is made from fruit and is very common in Middle Eastern countries.
If you do not have pekmez, as in our case, you can use a mixture of cane honey, with plum jam. This does not have the same flavor as Pekmez. But it will add that sweet layer on top of the simits. Which makes the sesame seeds stick together, and the simits take on their characteristic golden color during baking.
Simits can be stored in a clean, dry container for up to a week. Dare to prepare them for a different breakfast.