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Monday, November 4, 2013

Baking Simit 'Achkee Chop'



At the conclusion of our October Women’s Guild meeting at St. David Armenian Church (Boca Raton, FL), the guest presenter was long-time member Deegeen (Mrs.) Makrouhi. 

 Makrouhi's Simit
The lesson on this day was a demonstration on the preparation of Simit, those tasty baked twists that go so well with a cup of coffee. Marge, another of our talented guild members, and phenomenal cook, assisted in this demonstration.

Deegeen Makrouhi is from the old-school of cookery in that she does not – I repeat – does not use measuring tools. Instead she relies on basic kitchenware, such as coffee mugs and a variety of spoons. While watching the simit being made, I was reminded  of my grandmother who used her hands as a measuring cups, and a watchful eye as she added ingredients to the mixing bowl. This type of food preparation, in an Armenian kitchen, is known as 'achkee chop’ – where a recipe’s success is determined simply by eye and feel - a method which, by the way, takes years to master!

Deegeen Makrouhi cooks in that same manner. We watched her scoop sugar, and baking powder using what looked like a serving spoon, while assistant Marge poured flour right from the bag into the bowl until she was instructed to stop. 

When the simit dough was completed, Deegeen Makrouhi pinched off a piece and passed it around so we could feel its proper consistency. All that was left to do, was pinch, roll, shape, glaze, sprinkle, and bake the final product. She and Marge made it look so simple.

 









Here is the recipe that was distributed to each of member so we could follow along …

Makrouhi’s Simit
NOTE: This recipe was explained ‘Achkee Chop’ – Good Luck!
Ingredients:
Pour 2 sticks melted margarine into a coffee mug. Add olive oil to top of mug.
Add: ½ coffee mug of whole milk
         1 to 2 Tbsp. sugar
         2 Tbsp. baking powder
         Enough flour to make a pliable dough (this is truly the ‘achkee chop’ part!)
For glaze - 1 beaten egg
Sesame seeds for sprinkling
Directions:
Mix until a soft dough is formed.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Then shape (into twists), coat with beaten egg, sprinkle top with sesame seeds.
Bake on a lightly greased baking (or parchment paper-lined) sheet in a preheated 350 °F oven until golden brown.

If ‘achee chop’ cooking isn’t your thing, here’s another, slightly different, but measured version – of Deegeen Makrouhi’s simit recipe which appears in the ‘St. David Church Women’s Guild Cookbook’ , published in 2005 – OR – click here for The Armenian Kitchen’s simit recipe. 



Simit, by Makrouhi

Ingredients:
1 cup corn oil (Mazola)
1 cup milk
1 stick margarine, melted
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup sugar
6 cups flour
For glazing: 1 egg, beaten
Directions:
Mix all ingredients together to form dough. Pinch off  a piece and roll out by hand into a long rope shape. Twist and brush top with egg. Bake at 375 °F for 30 minutes or until brown.


6 comments:

  1. The proportions are similar between the two recipes, if you assume a 12 oz coffee mug. Only the milk and the baking powder are off a bit. So you could maybe start with 6 cups flour in the "achkee chop" recipe and adjust up?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ara,
      That's the way to do it - the trial and error method. BTW, Deegeen Makrouhi's simit were perfect!

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  2. Do you think that butter could be substituted for margarine?

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    Replies
    1. You could use butter instead, but the ladies at church said the simit might not rise as much if butter is used. Personally, I like buttery baked goods!

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  3. Me too! The speculation that the simit might not rise as much doesn't make sense to me. I don't see the rationale there. When I finally get around to making it one of these days I'll make a "hybrid" version of simit by combining this recipe and yours.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent! Keep me posted with your results.

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