Hye Thyme Cafe: Simit (Sesame Cookie)

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Simit (Sesame Cookie)


Is it a cookie?  Is it a cracker?  Heck, I don't know, but I've been eating them my whole life, and they're awesome!  They're also possibly one of the easiest things ever, and they keep well in a tin for what seems like years - although if they're around that long and it's not Christmas or Thanksgiving when you've got six million other goodies piled around the house, you've obviously done something wrong!  These are perfect little rings of crispy flaky goodness.

The weird thing is that since I've been eating them forever, I never really thought much about it, but I decided to Google them one day and see what popped up.  I was shocked to see the Middle Eastern equivalent of the bagel.  They look like ginormous versions of these, but they're definitely a bread.  Funny how these things translate and morph over time through different cultures.

Another freaky thing was that when I was in junior high school, one of the classes was hosting a Medieval Festival.  A teacher approached me and asked if I would mind bringing in some sort of Armenian dish for the occasion.  I was flattered by the request and eager to get right on it, but then thought - oh crap!  What am I going to make that a bunch of "normal" junior high school kids will eat?  No way did I think Stuffed Grape Leaves would go over.  I couldn't make Cheese Boregs or Spinach Boregs (Spanikopita) without having access to an oven, or Jajig (cheese dip) or Eech (red tabouli) without a fridge, so that left Simit.  I apparently wasn't making Paklava back then.

Because they wouldn't fit in my locker, I was carrying around a huge tin of them all day.  When I was in Home Ec, someone asked what was in the tin, so I popped it open and they tried one.  After that, it was like a flock of vultures descended on me.  Almost everyone in class ate one, then word spread and people were stopping me in the halls.  The tin never made it as far as the event.  I was shocked!!  Smart kids.  :)


INGREDIENTS :
2 1/2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T sugar
1/2 c milk
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) margarine
1-2 eggs
Sesame Seeds
Black Seeds (Nigella Sativa)
**Black Sesame Seeds are OK

In a medium bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients with a fork.  Melt the margarine in a small bowl or large measuring cup (I do it right in the microwave), then pour the milk over it to cool it a bit.  If you JUST took the milk out of the fridge, pour slowly so your butter bowl/glass doesn't explode!  Pour both over the flour mixture and mix to combine.  I just hold the bowl still with one hand and mix with the other.  Sprinkle in a few of the black seeds - about a half teaspoon should be good.

The dough is so easy, you shouldn't even need to flour your work surface.  Just pull off a piece of dough about the size of a walnut, roll it into a rope, then pinch the ends together to form a circle.  To make sure it doesn't pop open while baking, I sort of pinch that spot flat, then fold the top into the center and pinch it again to seal.


 

Place them all on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Trust me on the parchment.  It's no fun trying to chisel egg of your trays later!  When they're all done, beat an egg or two in a small bowl, then brush the tops and sprinkle with seeds - lots of white / a few black.  If I'm brushing the egg on the tops, I'll usually do about a row at a time.  I want to make sure the seeds have something to stick to.  If you brush them all with egg first, some of them will be too dry for the seeds to stick.  Sometimes I'll just pour sesame seeds onto a small plate, then dunk the whole cookie in egg and press the top into the seeds.  Whatever works for you is perfectly fine.  Some people like tons of seeds, some people like just a few.  I'm kinda the Goldilocks in this picture - I like it "just right."




Bake at 350 for about 30" or so until golden, then transfer to cooling racks.  Makes 2 dozen.









14 comments:

  1. Like choreg, these are really good with some mahleb and/or vanilla for a little "sweeter" flavor.

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  2. I see variations from time to time, but because we love these so much, I'm always afraid to change it - much like the Paklava. I just got around to trying a different one last week, and everyone went crazy over it. Next time I make this, I should do a double batch, so I can have some of the "regular" recipe and some with mahleb/vanilla. It's very difficult for me to bake ANYTHING without adding vanilla, so that part should be easy for me. ;)

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  3. Is margarine necessary in this recipe? Could I use butter or shortening?

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  4. We have always made it with margarine, but I'm sure you MUST be able to make it with butter. My sister and I wonder about that all the time - the recipe has been around a LOT longer than margarine. LOL. Maybe our grandmother switched to margarine when we were little and our grandfather had a heart attack??

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  5. My kids are always looking for things to make on their own. I'll have to show this to them. They will love them!

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  6. Hmmm, not sure why, but I just found you in my Spam folder. :(

    Hope the kids enjoy making (and eating) them. :)

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  7. Ummmm, these look good. Must try. Here from TALU. Have a good one!

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  8. Thanks for stopping by. Hope it becomes a habit. ;)

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  9. sigh...bread...I adore you.
    I would much rather have hot bread than cake. For real. I'm going to try to make these.

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  10. Not if you're looking for bread you're not. If you want to adore me for bread, you have to make Choreg, but in your case, I'm not sure that would be possible with everything you have going on - it's an all day affair, and you've got kids and alpacas to contend with. ;)

    Sadly, the last time I baked Choreg (one of the best smells/tastes on Earth), I modified my recipe and everyone said it was the best they ever had. Do I remember what I changed???????

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  11. Simit looks like a perfect treat to give out as gifts in small clear bags or small tins.

    Choreg doesn't seem to keep very long, although it does freeze well.

    Decisions, decisions!

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    1. I agree. Simit is a great idea, but the Choreg would be dry by the time it got somewhere. I'm kicking myself - I tweaked my Choreg recipe but don't know what I did with my notes. It turned out awesome. I know I decreased the liquid (maybe the butter?), but I can't remember by how much, etc. :(

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  12. I'm surprised to see baking powder used here - isn't Simit a quintessential yeast dough?

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    1. It may be a regional distinction or something, because if you Google simit, what comes up is something that looks like a bagel or ring of bread, but this is definitely not a bread, and there is no yeast. I have never had the other version and didn't realize it existed until just a few years ago ... when I Googled it. :)

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