Sesame Rings



Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in


By David Dale and Somer Sivrioglu

Published 2015

  • About

What pretzels are to New Yorkers, simit are to Istanbulians, who buy them from street stalls all day long and munch them between appointments.

They are at least 600 years old—Topkapı Palace documents from 1593 include bulk orders for simid-i halka (round simits). They have entered the language of metaphor. A Turk who hates his job will say: ‘I’d be better off selling simit ’. Protesters trying to dissuade police from breaking up a demonstration will shout: ‘Sell simit and leave with honour.’

There are bakeries that cook nothing but simit —in wood-fire ovens, of course, at 300°C (570°F/ Gas 10+). And there are cafés, usually with titles such as ‘Palace of Simit’, that serve them with melted cheese, tomato and other unnecessary additions. Personally, I would never sit down to eat simit, and I would never cook them at home if I was in Istanbul. But outside my homeland, you need a recipe.


  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 45 ml ( fl oz) thickened (whipping) cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 350 g (12 oz/1 cup) grape molasses
  • 140 g (5 oz/1 cup) sesame seeds
  • butter and feta, to serve (optional)


Mix the yeast and the sugar in a bowl with 250 ml (9 fl oz /1 cup) of lukewarm water and then set aside for 5 minutes. It should start to form bubbles. Add another 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of water and combine.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture, vegetable oil and thickened cream. Knead the dough for 5 minutes to make a soft and stretchy dough, adding more flour if the dough is sticky. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and rest for 1 hour. It should expand.

Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F/Gas 8).

Add the salt to the dough and knead for 3 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface. Divide the dough into eight pieces and roll into balls. Rest for 3 minutes. With floured hands, pull each ball in half and roll each half into a strip about 50 cm (20 in) long. Twist the two strips around each other into braids. Pull the braided dough around into a circle. Stick the ends together, wetting the dough if necessary to help it hold.

Dilute the grape molasses in 170 ml ( fl oz/2/3 cup) of water.

Place a frying pan over low heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast, tossing constantly, until the seeds turn golden brown. Turn onto a tray and set aside

Pour the grape molasses into a shallow bowl. Dip the braided dough into the molasses, one at a time. Turn to coat both sides. Shake off the excess liquid then toss each braid in the sesame seeds, making sure both sides are evenly coated.

Line a baking tray with baking paper and brush with oil. Arrange the simit on the tray and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and crusty.

Serve warm with butter and feta, or at room temperature as part of a breakfast spread.