Many visitors to Turkey try simit (sesame bread rings), but many simitçis (simit sellers) also sell many other delicious pastries from their carts, like poğaça, ay çöreği, çatal çöreği, and açma.
Açma are soft, ring-shaped bread rolls. They are often sold plain (sade açma) or with black olive spread (zeytinli açma). In zeytinli açma salty olive spread twists through pillowy dough, and crunchy nigella seeds add flavor and crunch to the shiny top.
While the ones sold in bakeries and on the streets are great, making your own allows you to have better control over the ingredients so you can make them a bit healthier if you’d like!
I made a few changes to the traditional Turkish recipe:
- First, rather than using butter (high in saturated fat, low in unsaturated fats), I used olive oil (low in saturated fats, high in monounsaturated fats). Replacing saturated fats in your diet with unsaturated fats has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends replacing solid animal fats with nontropical vegetable oils and nuts. Replacing butter with olive oil is not a negative compromise here because the olive oil flavor compliments the black olive spread. Another good fat option for this recipe would be sunflower oil (low in saturated fats, high in polyunsaturated fats).
Second, I replaced all the white flour with whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour contains all the parts of the wheat grain: bran, germ, and endosperm. By using whole wheat flour, you improve the vitamin, mineral, and fiber content of the whole recipe.
If you’re making these for someone who doesn’t like olives, you can always make a few plain ones, or get creative with a different filling!
Make 12-13 bread rolls
1 cup milk (240 mL)
1 cup warm water (240 mL)
⅔ cup olive oil (160 mL) substitute: sunflower oil
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (8 grams)
2 egg whites (reserve yolks for brushing tops of rolls)
1 teaspoon salt (6 grams)
1 tablespoon sugar (13 grams)
6 cups whole wheat flour (~780 grams)
~½ cup black olive spread/tapenade (~130 grams)*
2 egg yolks
Handful of nigella/black caraway or lightly toasted sesame seeds
*If you can’t find black olive spread/tapenade, you can easily make your own! All you need are oil-cured black olives (not from a can/ lye-cured). They might be in a glass jar, vacuum-packed, or on the olive bar at your grocery store. Simply remove seed (if not already removed) and blend in a food processor.
- To prepare dough: In a large bowl, whisk together milk, water, olive oil, yeast, egg whites, salt, and sugar. Slowly incorporate flour, 1 cup at a time, until you form a soft dough that is slightly sticky. Form dough into a ball and allow to rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours (ample time for rising is critical to get the final product as fluffy as possible!).
- Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 12-13 pieces (105-110 grams each).
- To shape: Use your hands to stretch each dough piece into an oval shape, and spread olive spread evenly onto dough, leaving about a 1/4 inch margin around the sides. Fold half the oval over the other half horizontally, and pinch together all the edges to contain the olive spread. Now use your palms to roll the dough into a long rope, about 8-10 inches long. Twist dough by holding both ends in your hands and twisting each side in opposite directions (it is okay if the olive spread bursts out in some areas), then connect at the ends to form a ring.
- Place each ring onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. It is okay if the sides of the rings are touching. Let rest for one hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). While oven is preheating, brush each ring with egg yolk and sprinkle with nigella seeds.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are golden.