Every time I try a new Turkish dish, I fall in love. What can I say? Their food is amazing. Even something as simple as their Turkish bagels is so special. Turkish bagels, also known as simit, are a popular street food often consumed during breakfast, just like New York bagels. However, unlike a New York bagel, a simit is slightly sweet with a lighter texture. I decided to combine American flavors with the pastry for a little of both worlds. These asiago rosemary and onion Turkish bagels have a wonderful chew with a lovely flavor that makes them easy to enjoy on their own!
Asiago Rosemary and Onion Turkish Bagels
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided (33 grams)
- 1 medium onion chopped small dice
- 1 cup warm water between 100-110 degrees F (250 ml)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar (8 grams)
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (7 grams)
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (370 grams)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup grated Asiago cheese (74 grams)
- 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ cup water (125 ml)
- ¼ cup molasses (70 grams)
- 1 cup toasted sesame seeds (150 grams)
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and saute until browned, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
- Combine warm water with sugar and active dry yeast in a medium bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes or until mixture is foamy.
- Add flour, salt, yeast mixture, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. Knead dough for 5 minutes. Add ½ cup cooked onion (100 grams), Asiago cheese, and rosemary to the dough and continue to knead for another 3-4 minutes or until well incorporated. Add 1-2 tablespoons extra flour if dough is too wet.
- Transfer dough to a clean bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm area for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Punch down dough and divide into 5 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Mix together ½ cup water with molasses in a wide bowl. Add sesame seeds in another wide bowl. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Lightly flour a clean work counter. Working with one portion at a time, roll dough into 30-inch long rope. Fold rope in half. Grab each end and twist the rope in opposite directions. Pinch the two ends together to seal. Repeat with remaining portions.
- Dip dough in molasses mixture, coating both sides. Dredge dough in sesame seeds, turning to coat. Place dough on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining portions. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Spray top of bagels with water and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 400 degrees and rotate sheet pan. Continue baking for 8-10 minutes or until the tops and bottom are both golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
If you ever made a New York bagel before, you may think the technique is the same. However, although they both have a round shape, that's as far as the similarities go. These asiago rosemary and onion Turkish bagels do require a bit of effort but hopefully, with my tips, you can quickly master the process.
Let's start by cooking the onions for the dough. You can cook the onion up to 3 days in advance if you like.
Chop the onion into small dice - you don't want big chunks or else they will be harder to incorporate into the dough. Heat oil in a saute pan and cook the chopped onion until deep brown. We're not completely caramelizing the onion but we do want some color to bring out the sweetness of the onion.
While the onion is cooling, prepare the dough. Activate the yeast by combining it with water and sugar. When it gets nice and foamy, combine it with the remaining olive oil, flour, and salt. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, then add the fillings including ½ cup cooked onion, asiago cheese, and rosemary. We're only using ½ cup of the onion so if you have extra, reserve it for another use. The cooked onion can add extra moisture to the dough so it's too wet, sprinkle extra flour as needed.
If you don't like Asiago cheese, you can substitute it with shredded white cheddar cheese, fontina, gruyere, or really any other firm cheese.
Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm area for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and divide it into 5 equal portions. I like to use a scale to make sure every portion is exactly the same. Shape each portion into a ball, then let it rest for 10 minutes. Resting the dough will make it easier to roll out later.
Lightly sprinkle flour on a clean work counter and working with one portion at a time, roll the dough into a 30-inch rope. Fold the dough in half and grab the two ends, twisting the rope in opposite directions. You basically want to end up with a coiled rope. Don't worry if it's not perfect - it adds character!
Pinch the ends together to seal and shape the dough into a round circle. Then, dip the bagels into the molasses and water mixture. This "marinade" gives simit its signature sweetness. If you can get your hands on it, use grape molasses - it's what traditional recipes call for.
Next, dredge the bagels in toasted sesame seeds, making sure to cover both sides.
Lay the prepared bagels on a lined baking sheet and let them rise for another 30 minutes in a warm area.
Spray the asiago, rosemary, and onion Turkish bagels with water and bake them at 450 degrees F for 10 minutes. Why do we spray them with water? The extra moisture gives the bread an extra crispy exterior and helps it expand as it cooks.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and continue baking the bagels for 8-10 minutes or until they're golden brown on both the top and bottom.
Remove the simit from the oven and let them cool slightly. You can enjoy the pastries warm or at room temperature, plain or with a pat of butter or cream cheese. If you like the sweet and salty combo, you can even enjoy them with jam.
I loved that these asiago, rosemary, and onion Turkish bagels still had the qualities of a traditional Turkish simit with the signature sesame flavor just with a little added flair. The sweet onion compliments the sweetness of the pastry while the rosemary and asiago add just a hint of complexity. I think I'll even use these to make breakfast bagel sandwiches, they're so delicious!
For more savory bread ideas check out these bacon scallion cheddar milk buns!