08 November 2006

Turkish Candle Rings (Kandil Simiti)

These rings are savoury, and are sold in patisseries and bakeries all around Turkey on special religious festivals (muslim holy nights) called Kandil (= candle). There are five kandil nights throughout the year, during when the mosques are illuminated. At the time of Kandil, these simits are bought from shops, whilst helva or another religious desert cooked at home is given to the neighbours and friends. Given that most Turkish people live in apartment blocks with an average of 8-10 units per block, imagine the number of plates per household after all the handing out is completed.

I love the patisserie food in Turkey, it's what I miss the most. And when it comes to Kandil Simiti, it is what I used to eat for lunch at uni throughout the week surrounding Kandil, together with ayran (equal parts of yoghurt and water mixed).

This is the first time I baked Kandil simiti at home, after combining two recipees. The simits were nice!

As with most Turkish recipes, the recipe did not have any indication for the amount of flour needed ('as much flour as the mixture takes in'). The Turkish way of ensuring that the dough is at the right consistency is to have it as soft as the 'earlobe'. I used my kitchen scale, and ended up using approximately 470 gr flour. So make sure that a 1/2 kilo of plain flour is at hand. I used the South Australian organic Laucke flour (which I find excellent for breadmaking - it is sold in 10 kg packs).

110 gr butter
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup milk
1 egg white, lightly beaten (keep aside the yolk for glazing)
1 teasp white sugar
1 teasp. mahlebi/mahlap
1 teasp. salt
1.5 table spoon baking powder
Approximately 3.25 (3 + 1/4) cups plain flour (~ 475 gr)
Sesame seeds AND nigella seeds (black sesame seeds)

Set the oven for 180 degrees.

1. Melt the butter. Mix butter, olive oil, milk and sugar in a deep bowl. Mix the lightly beaten egg white.

2. Add the mahlebi, baking powder, and sifted flour. Mix with a wooden spoon. Towards the end, knead the dough lightly. Adjust the amount of flour until soft and not sticky.

3. Rest the dough for 5-10 minutes.

4. Take walnut-size pieces from the dough. Roll each into a sausage shape, and bring together the ends to achieve a ring shape. Put each ring onto lightly greased tray (or use baking paper). Brush each with egg yolk. Sprinkle some of them with sesame seeds and nigella seeds, and have some without seeds. The recipe yielded around 32 simits on two trays.

5. Bake in moderate oven until colour is golden. Approximate cooking time is 20-25 minutes.

** You may use 2 cups of self-raising flour, and the rest white flour. Don't forget to reduce the amount of baking powder.

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