Turkish cuisine offers a wide variety of pastries that are popular as a lighter breakfast option and on the go. Any visitor to Türkiye will have seen them in the various bakeries, pastry shops and patisseries that line almost every street in the country. Well, if you’ve ever wondered what these golden pastries actually contain and the different shades between the varieties, here’s a guide to Türkiye’s other breakfast offerings.
It starts with sim…
One of the most popular Turkish breakfast dishes is simit. A round, chewy bread loaded with sesame, simit can be found almost anywhere, from corner shops to stalls and everywhere in between. And rightly so, as they are delicious plain or topped with cheese and dips.
However, the most common way to consume a simit is with cheese spread, such as that sold in circular containers containing individually wrapped slices of soft, creamy cheese. In Türkiye, this cheese is called “Karper”, which, like ketchup, has become synonymous with the most familiar brand that produces it here in Türkiye. But, what might not be obvious to most is that nearly every vendor selling simit will also offer an individually wrapped slice of soft cheese to go with it, if you ask.
Açma is the other ordinary bread-like pastry which is round with a hole in the middle. While an açma actually looks even more like a bagel than a simit, they are softer and have a buttery flavor as well as a larger surface area to cover with cheeses and other breakfast toppings. . Sometimes these pastries are baked with a sprinkle of nigella seeds on top.
Poğaça is a word given to a wide variety of bulbous stuffed and baked savory pastries that can be found filled with ingredients such as feta cheese, kasseri cheese, potato and my favorite, which is a variant which has dill in the batter and is then stuffed with feta or lor peyniri similar to cottage cheese.
This latest version is smaller and more crumbly than the other one-ingredient stuffed varieties. A word of warning, though, because if these pastries are indeed stuffed with an ingredient, you may have trouble actually seeing the stuffing as the dough to stuffing ratio to some may seem unbalanced. In other words, these pastries can certainly be quite dense and heavy in dough.
Boyoz is another simple yet flaky pastry that looks like a dense croissant but is shaped like a bun and is particular to the Izmir region, but now also available almost everywhere.
Kol böreği, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. This spiral oblong phyllo börek is stuffed to the brim with cheese, potatoes or a mixture of sautéed ground meat and onions. Unlike the previously mentioned pastries, this flaky, oily pastry oozes filling and is served cut into bite-size pieces.
Su böreği is one of Türkiye’s most beloved breakfast and comfort food and it almost looks like white lasagna. Layered with sheets of a moist, soft and buttery dough, su böreği, which translates to “water pastry”, is usually stuffed with soft feta cheese, but there are also variations with the minced meat combo and onion. It is sold in palm-sized squares that some vendors will then cut into bite-size pieces for easier consumption.
Kır pidesi is a personal favorite and a marvel in its production as it is a long oblong flatbread-shaped pastry which is stuffed with cheese, potatoes or minced meat, but in this case the stuffing is placed in half a dozen thin, longitudinal strips, so each bite has a touch of stuffing, a crispy crust, and a soft bread consistency in between. While Kır Pidesi will be presented in its long flatbread form, it is also cut into individual portions of the quantity of your choice and can easily be eaten with one hand as it does not have the crumbling factor of other Turkish pastries.
And now for the sweets…
Ay çöreği is a pastry that actually looks like a croissant, but the dough is like a thin wrapper for a thick chocolate cake-like filling that is made with a mixture of cocoa, nuts, raisins, and cinnamon .
Tahinli çörek is perhaps one of the most divine pastries to ever exist, as it is also made with a thin puff pastry that is shaped into a spiral of thin layers filled with tahini and covered with grape molasses and simit.
What some may not know is that tahini, which is a sesame paste, is generally considered a savory ingredient and is incorporated into meze-type dishes, but when cooked on its own, the tahini turns into an almost caramelized stuffing that isn’t too sweet.
This particular pastry most closely resembles a cinnamon roll, but comes in a much larger form, which in this case is not cut into individual portions. When it comes to tahinli çörek, you have to buy the whole spiral, which means it can be more expensive, but can serve as a treat to have throughout the day and is especially presentable at a breakfast table. or may be a good option. to buy as a gift if you go to someone’s house for tea or coffee, morning, noon or evening.