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Homemade Simit Bread

If you’re finding it hard to get hold of your usual loaf, you’ll be pleased to try out this month’s home baking recipe.

This traditional Turkish bread is fun to make and is incredibly tasty.
Simit is a sesame crusted, circular bread from Turkey. Also known as Turkish bagel, Gevrek or Koulouri. It’s traditionally served for breakfast, but can be enjoyed with various accompaniments at any time of day.

Makes 8-10

500g/1lb 2oz plain flour
310ml/11fl oz water
5g/1 tsp fresh yeast
5g/ 1sp fine/table salt

60g/2 ¼ oz pekmez (grape molasses) or substitute with honey or maple syrup
50ml/1 ¾ fl oz water
200g/7oz sesame seeds

1. Mix the dough ingredients together thoroughly. Cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
2. Knead until smooth. Place in a large bowl, cover and leave to prove at room temperature for 30 minutes, then transfer to the fridge and leave overnight to continue proving.
3. Mix the pekmez (or alternative) and water together in a bowl and put the sesame seeds on a plate. Press the dough out on a lightly floured work surface, to de-gas (that is, to get rid of the largest bubbles), so the finished product has an even texture.
4. Divide the dough into 8–10 equal-size pieces, rolling each one into a strand about 70–80cm/28–32in long. You might need to do this in two stages with a 5–10-minute rest in between. Hold the two ends of a strand together in one hand, and the middle in your other hand and twist the dough a couple of times to entwine the strands.
5. Pinch the ends of the twisted dough together to make a ring, then roll the join back and forth on a work surface a few times to seal together. Repeat with the remaining strands of dough.
6. Dunk each simit into the diluted pekmez (or alternative), then drain and dip into the sesame seeds to coat fully. Lay them out on two or three baking sheets, cover and leave to prove at room temperature for 30–45 minutes.
7. Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/gas 7. Bake the simit for 10–15 minutes until reddish brown.

Baker’s Tip
Pekmez is a molasses-like syrup made by boiling down grape must. It can be bought from Turkish and Mediterranean shops, specialist delicatessens and online.

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