Marianne Dardarian demonstrates how to make Candy Cane Simit in her kitchen. (Photo: Daniel Dardarian)

Holiday Candy Cane Simit from Guild Gatherings


SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — During the COVID-19 lockdown last year, the Women’s Guild of St. John Armenian Church in Southfield, Michigan searched for ways to stay connected while staying apart.  Normally the Guild’s calendar is filled with activities and events throughout the year.  Maintaining that connection to each other while remaining homebound meant thinking in new ways.  To start, the group divided up their phone directory and took turns calling each member to check in regularly.

A suggestion by Fr. Aren Jebejian led to the creation of Guild Gatherings, a series of instructional videos recorded by volunteers in their homes and posted on YouTube. The popular channel now has about 35 videos viewed over 7,000 times, covering a wide variety of subjects.  “Every day, millions of people go to YouTube to be educated, informed, motivated, or just plain delighted.  We demonstrate how to make souboreg, katah, stuffed peppers, comfort foods, yogurt, manti, and choreg, just to name a few of the cooking videos.  Other topics include designing holiday planters and tablescapes, painting, knitting, exercise, and more,” says Denise Karakashian, Guild Gatherings co-chair. “These videos inspired many viewers to learn new skills during the quarantine.”

“Our members were willing to share their expertise and provide entertainment for others during the lockdown. It was exciting to see them go beyond their comfort level, look into the camera and connect with others,” says Paulette Apkarian, co-chair.

Family recipes are popular, like the one Marianne Dardarian demonstrates in, “Let’s Bake Candy Cane Cookies,” a version of simit her mother, Lillian Baylerian Hovsepian, would make at Christmas.  “Mom made simit cookies at Christmas, and she loved having us help her.  Since we hosted Christmas dinner for the Baylerian and Hovsepian families, it became a tradition to have a basket of them for all to enjoy. My sister Patty and I made them with our children, and we taught friends to make them with their children. Some of us even made them with our children’s kindergarten classes as part of the lessons on holiday traditions.”

Candy Cane Simit

Contributed by Lillian Hovsepian and Marianne Dardarian

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1/4 cup milk

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons shortening

1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

Topics: simit

1 3/4 cups flour

1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 drops of red food coloring

1 egg for brushing


The measurements above are for one recipe of dough.  You will make two recipes; one plain and the other tinted red.  Start with the plain dough. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt.  Heat the milk, butter, and shortening until butter is melted.  Pour into a mixing bowl, add sugar and combine well.  Mix in the egg, and finally the flour mixture.  Mix thoroughly until a ball of dough forms. Set dough aside.

Next make the second recipe of dough adding food coloring to the melted liquid ingredients.  Allow both doughs to rest for an hour.

Portion out 1/2 oz. balls. Roll each piece into a 6” to 8” stick, then twist one plain stick and one red stick together, making a crook at the top to form a candy cane.  Allow to rest again for a short while.  Brush twice with an egg wash for a shiny finish.

Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes in the middle of the oven.  Bake on top rack for 3 minutes more.

Yield: Approx. 35 simits

View this video and others by going to the Women’s Guild website at:  Once there, click on Guild Gatherings to learn more.

To view all Guild Gatherings videos on YouTube, go to:

Also available on the Women’s Guild website: Armenian Cuisine: Preserving Our Heritage Cookbook

Over 450 tested recipes from the Detroit metropolitan Armenian community, updated using modern techniques and equipment. Detailed description of cooking and baking methods including tips for preparation. $35 with free shipping.

Pomegranate Apron

With 2 handy pockets and adjustable straps. Great for the kitchen, garage, or garden.  $20 with free shipping.  To order, go to:

Consider a Donation to Support the Mission of the Women’s Guild of St. John Armenian Church: Women’s Guild strives to nurture fellowship and service to our Church and community through a variety of activities and events. Your funds will help us continue outreach activities in Armenia such as sponsoring orphans and supporting Mer Doon, which provides young women with a safe home and instructs them in life skills.

For information, contact:

Women’s Guild of St. John Armenian Church

22001 Northwestern Highway

Southfield, Michigan 48075

Tel: (248) 569-3405


Copyright © 2021 Women’s Guild of St. John Armenian Church

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