Tourists and seasonal residents have finally started to return, which means the holidays are right around the corner, and the arrival of out-of-town guests is inevitable.
For me it means it’s time to start baking again. So I’ll start off with a simple recipe for Simit - a cross between a cookie and a chorag. Whatever you call it, simit is a favorite when folks drop in unexpectedly for a visit. Since Simit freezes well, they can be made in advance and can be ready to serve in a jiffy.
Serve with coffee or tea, fresh seasonal fruit or an assortment of dried fruit and cheeses.
Yield: approximately 3 dozen, depending on size
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup milk
4 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
dash of salt
2 sticks butter
Variation: To give simit a unique taste, add 2 tsp. finely ground mahlab**, fennel seed, and anise seed and ½ tsp. ground ginger in step #2 when you combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
(** Mahlab is the dried “heart” of the cherry pit. It can be purchased in most Middle Eastern stores. If you can’t find it, you can omit it; the taste will be slightly different, but still delicious.)
1 beaten egg
toasted sesame seeds
1. In a saucepan, gently heat the milk and sugar until milk is warm and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. If using the spices listed in the variation, add here. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or a fork, until the mixture looks crumbly. Stir in the heated milk - sugar mixture; mix to form a dough.
3. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface until knead until it becomes smooth.
4. Divide the dough into several balls, then roll each ball into a long rope about ½ inch thick.
5. Cut each rope into about 6-inch pieces. Create an “S” shape, or leave straight.
6. Place pieces on ungreased baking sheets. Brush each piece with beaten egg, then sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are lightly golden brown.
8. Cool on wire racks; store in an airtight container.