Sesame Bagels (Simit)

The summers that I spent in Turkey were filled with hazy days wasting away by the seaside, drinking Efes, munching on salted peanuts and the nights in crowded cafes and hookah lounges watching the World Cup.

The sounds and smells are all I need to take me back to those youthful days and since I seem to be so reminiscent, I may as well use it as an excuse to make one of my favorite breakfast breads of all time.

If you ever find yourself in Turkey, you’ll find that breakfast is a really big deal. There are a whole variety of incredible dishes for the occation, from garlicky beef sausage and pastrami to eggs, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, rocket, jams, butter, and honey.

I’ve adopted this big breakfast lifestyle especially for the weekends and I love to treat my family to some of the beautiful range of dishes that the Mediterranean has to offer, but made with ingredients that are as local as possible. The sorghum and wheat are from friends back in West Virginia and Kentucky!

Simit is probably closest to a Turkish bagel, complete with loads of sesame seeds baked into the crust for a glorious crisp and texture. I tear off bite sized pieces and smear a good amount of local butter and honey on each bite.

Oh. My. Goodness. Local food never saw this coming, did it?

I began with a recipe by the wonderful Binnur (I love her blog, she’s so knowledgable and her recipes are amazing). I changed it somewhat, and you are welcome to change things up a bit too!

Start by adding the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup of lukewarm water to a bowl for about 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Next, add the flours and salt to a medium-sized bowl and mix with a whisk. Add 3/4 cup warm water to the yeast mixture and stir.

Begin incorporating 1/3 flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix well, then add 1/3 more, mix, then add the final 1/3 and mix.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 12 minutes. (I must point out that Binnur’s recipe uses about half the flour mine did, and our methods are a little different, but you can experiment and see what seems to work best for you!)

Pour a tablespoon of oil in a bowl and coat the bottom. Add the dough to the bowl and turn it to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free area for around an hour and a half to two hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.


After the time has elapsed, punch the dough down and knead briefly on a clean surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and let it rise again, this time for about 45 minutes.

Then, divide each section into two pieces and twist, securing the ends together. Have two big shallow bowls with a mixture of 1/4 cup water and a tablespoon sorghum and then another with the sesame seeds. Dip the rings in the mixture of water and molasses, and then in the sesame seeds. Place the rings on a parchment lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap for another 45 minutes.


15 minutes before the simit has finished rising, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic film and bake for around 15-20 minutes, until golden.


Enjoy these while fresh, either with coffee, tea, or with your own version of a big, fat Turkish breakfast that would rival any sultan’s.

Sesame Bagels (Simit)

makes 6 bagels

1 tbsp. active dry yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
1 cup lukewarm water, divided
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

For the outside:
¾ cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sorghum
¼ cup water

Start by adding the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup of lukewarm water to a bowl for about 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Next, add the flours and salt to a medium-sized bowl and mix with a whisk. Add 3/4 cup warm water to the yeast mixture.

Begin incorporating 1/3 flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix well, then add 1/3 more, mix, then add the final 1/3 and mix.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 12 minutes.

Pour a tablespoon oil in a bowl and coat the bottom. Add the dough to the bowl and turn it to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft free area for around an hour and a half to two hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

After the time has elapsed, punch the dough down and knead briefly on a clean surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and let it rise again, this time for about 45 minutes.

Then, divide each section into two pieces and twist, securing the ends together. Have two big shallow bowls with a mixture of 1/4 cup water and a tablespoon sorghum and then another with the sesame seeds. Dip the rings in the mixture of water and molasses, and then in the sesame seeds. Place the rings on a parchment lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap for another 45 minutes.

15 minutes before the simit has finished rising, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic film and bake for around 15-20 minutes, until golden.