Recipe: Turkish baked simit with a mezze platter

By Grant Allen

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Limit bread, cherry jam, feta, cherries, dates, figs, cucumber, tomatoes, olives. Photo / Michael Craig
Limit bread, cherry jam, feta, cherries, dates, figs, cucumber, tomatoes, olives. Photo / Michael Craig

All across Turkey you will be treated to the same breakfast - freshly baked sesame-coated simit bread rounds, a fruit jam and white cheese, a mezze platter of olives, tomatoes, cucumber and boiled eggs and, depending on the season, fresh or dried figs and dates, all washed down with a strong black sweetened tea (cay).

Often termed Turkish bagels, simit is freshly baked and sold by street peddlers, off carts or most often from trays held aloft on street corners. The coating of grape or
pomegranate molasses imbedded with sesame seed makes for a crunchy outside and chewy inner which is great with a cherry or berry jam, torn off in chewable hunks. You will need to be up early to get these in time for breakfast!

Makes 8 simit

• 1 Tbsp dry yeast
• ¼ tsp sugar
• ¼ cup warm water
• 2 cups high grade flour
• 1 tsp salt
• ¾ cup warm water
• ½ cup fruit molasses
• ½ cup water
• 1 cup white sesame seeds

1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in ¼ cup warm water and leave to stand until frothy, approximately 10 minutes.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in ¾ cup warm water and yeast mixture. Knead into a stiff dough. This should take 10-15 minutes.

3. Place in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours.

4. Knead again and divide and roll into 8 balls and leave to rise again for 30 minutes.

5. Roll each ball into a 30cm log, twist and press together into a circle.

6. Dissolve the molasses in the ½ cup water and place the sesame seeds on a flat plate. Dip the bread rounds in the molasses water and then in the sesame seeds. Place on baking trays lined with baking paper and rest a further 30 minutes.

7. Preheat oven to 200C and then bake simit for 15-20 minutes until bread is baked and sesame is toasted.

Serve warm with berry jam, feta cheese and a platter of sliced tomatoes, cucumber, boiled eggs, dates, figs and olives.

- Herald on Sunday

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