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Jerusalem Bagelah (Simit, Ka'ek)

a version of Jerusalem's best street food


  • 1 cup of "white whole wheat" flour (a milder version of whole wheat than the usual red whole wheat).
  • 3 cups white flour.
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water.
  • one package (2 1/2 teaspoons) yeast.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil.
  • lots of sesame seeds (or, untraditionally, poppy, black caraway, cumin or fennel seeds).


  • Preheat oven to 500°. If you have a dutch oven, preheat it as well (with the top). Baking the bread in hot cast iron will give you a thin, crispier crust, but it is hard to make more than one or two rings at a time in a pot, so I make some in the pot and some on a tray or in a pre-heated cast iron frying pan. No need to oil the dutch oven, tray or pan.
  • Mix together all ingredients except seeds.
  • Knead for five minutes. The dough should be smooth and fairly sticky. If you are using a Kitchenaid type mixer, it should stick slightly to the bottom of the bowl. If it climbs up, add more water; if it is too sticky, add some more flour. Let rest for ten minutes, knead for five more minutes.
  • Place dough in oiled glass bowl. Reverse dough so that top is oil covered. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise until tripled in size -- about one to two hours. You can also leave it in the fridge overnight and then let it warm to room temperature (about one hour) the next day.
  • Form into a long rope about 1 inch in diameter, by pressing into a long strip and then folding up about 2/3 of the way. Cut into 4 pieces and form each piece into a large circle. Alternatively, form into a rectangle, cut into four rectangles, punch a hole in the center of each rectangle and stretch into a ring. Cover with a cloth and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Fill a large bowl or tray with warm water deep enough to cover the dough, and spread seeds over another tray. One at a time, dip a dough circle into the water, then into the seeds, covering it entirely with seeds.
  • If you are using a dutch oven, carefully remove the pot from the oven and place as a circle or two into it. Cover and replace. If you are baking on a sheet, arrange the circles with space for them to double in size. If you baking on the sheet, it is best to start baking while the rings are still wet, since the steam will improve the crust.
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 450°. Then, remove the top of the dutch oven if you are using it, and bake for 10-15 minutes longer at 350°.
  • Cool on a rack.
  • Eat dipped into zaatar (thyme, salt and sesame mix), with or without olive oil or labneh.

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