Lebanese sweet tahini swirls
Actually, I went looking for a good old-fashioned Swedish cinnamon roll recipe, and I ended up making these instead. Thinly stretched layers of crispy crunchyness with a slightly caramelized sesame filling and a hint of cinnamon; these “Tahinov Hatz” are absolutely wonderful.
In the original recipe from “Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World” by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, the swirls are called “sukkar bi tahin”: which seems te be phonetic Arabic for “my ground sesame and sugar filling” :-) (thanks, Google Translate). But Joumana of Taste Of Beirut calls them Tahinov Hatz, which is probably more authentic so I’ll go with that.
Both Home Baking and Taste Of Beirut use generally the same recipe with a yeast dough, the latter also adding a bit of cinnamon to the filling. This I recognize from my “Kosher Cookies” recipe, and I think the combination of cinnamon and sesame seed is just what makes them so special, so I’ve added some cinnamon as well.
The rolling sounds complicated, but it’s all very straightforward and simple, and works well; this is clearly a time-tested recipe. It uses a strong flour because the gluten help the dough to stretch well: it’s rolled and stretched and rolled, ending up in very thin layers.
I followed the recipe from the Home Baking book, adapted to a smaller quantity. The result doesn’t resemble the pics from Taste Of Beirut, and they’re not like tahin-filled bread at all. Can’t say that I mind terribly (read that as: I think mine were awesome); it seems you can adjust the layer thickness, and so the “breadyness”, to your liking. I think my tahini swirls came out sort of looking very authentic – but it’s that taste of sweet sesame and cinnamon that I really love, combined with the crunchyness of the baked thin layered swirl, which makes this absolutely terrific. I’m so glad I found these!
recipe: Lebanese sweet tahini swirls
This amount is for four 16 cm Tahini Swirls
- 1 teasp dry yeast
- 120 ml lukewarm water
- 200 gr plain flour (or use a ready-made bread flour mix and skip the yeast)
- 2 teasp sugar
- 1 tablesp olive oil
- 4 small tablesp tahin (I used the salted variety)
- 4 tablesp sugar
- 4x teasp olive oil
- 4x teasp cinnamon
- optional: teasp lemon rind from package
white castor sugar and flour to dust worktop
Make the dough
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water, and add the sugar and oil. Add the flour, a handful at a time. Quickly knead into a floppy, flexible dough that does not stick to the hands anymore. Leave covered in a bowl for about 2 or 3 hours, to rise. As all the air will be rolled out of it later, the stretchyness of the dough is more important than the amount of air in it.
Rolling and shaping
the numbers in the text refer to the images below
When the dough has had some time to rise, divide it into four balls. Roll out one ball at a time, into a rough rectangle of “pizza thickness” – about 2 or 3 mm (1). Scatter the teaspoon of olive oil over it. I combined the tahin with the sugar, added a teaspoon of finely ground lemon rind (packet) to that, and scattered the somewhat dryer tahin mixture, like crumbs, over the dough surface (2). Dust the tahin-sugar layer with cinnamon. Gently press it flat with the back of a spoon. You’re now ready to roll.
Pre-heat the oven to 190° C. If you use a baking stone, put it in the middle rack.
Dust the worktop with a bit of castor sugar and flour to help with the rolling. Cut sqares of baking parchment of about 17 x 17 cm. Roll up the dough rectangle, starting at the longest edge. Roll and pull and gently twist a bit, and the resulting sausage will be much longer, about 40 to 50 cm (4). Taking one end as the center, now turn the sausage in on itself, forming a rolled bun (5). Gently press it flat with your hand, then transfer onto a piece of parchment, and use the rolling pin again to gently roll the bun into a 15cm wide flat circle, about a cm in thickness (6). Prepare as much swirls as your oven can hold in one go, leave the rest covered up.
Using a pizza peel or an extra-wide spatula to support the flat tahini swirls sitting on their separate parchment, quickly transfer them into the oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or till parts of the surface have turned a deep golden brown. Get them out and leave them to cool and get nice and crispy on a wire rack.
Have some apple tea to go with that. Their taste is not overly sweet; and I love the combination of crunchyness with that slightly caramelized sesame filling. Roll over Swedish cinnamon buns, these tahini swirls are awesome!