I have the absolute admiration and respect for any Cypriot man or woman who successfully baked “Tahinopittes” (Cypriot tahini pies). Many years ago, I decided to take up this challenge and figure out, how to make this absolutely delicious pie. I tried for weeks! At the time, my patient and lovely colleagues had to taste my experiments almost everyday and give me valuable feedback. I must say, this was probably the most difficult cooking challenge I took, until today. I don’t know what makes this pie complicated. Maybe it’s the way you fold, twist and stretch the dough in order to achieve the right crunchy sweetness on the outside and creamy yumminess on the inside. Whatever the case, eventually I reached my goal and created my version of “tahinopitta”.
Having said that, this recipe is not it! I decided I had to make something simpler, something that didn’t take much skill to fold or stretch. Just a straight forward dough, rolled into a rectangle and filled with tahini and sugar. The best part of course, is that you can knead it entirely in a food processor for speed and ease. I based this recipe on cinnamon rolls, but added tahini in the dough. I also finished it off with a light honey, lemony syrup which adds moisture and flavor. It’s not overly sweet and the delicious tahini filling shines through.
As a Cypriot, I will continue to occasionally indulge in the pleasure of a good, traditional “Tahinopitta”, from my favourite bakery. But when baking at home, this recipe always satisfies my craving and doesn’t take up too much of my time. And it looks great too!
- 3 ½ cup plain flour
- 2 tsp dried yeast
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 Tbs unsalted butter (60 grams)
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup tahini paste
- ¾ cup milk, lukewarm
- 1 1/3 cups tahini paste (300 grams)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup honey
- 10 cm piece lemon peel
- ½ tsp lemon juice
In a bowl of a food processor add the flour, yeast, baking soda and baking powder. Pulse a few times until mixed. Add the salt and mix again. You don’t want the salt to come in contact with the yeast, as it will kill it and your dough won’t rise.
Add the butter and olive oil and mix until mixture looks like large peas (don’t bother if it doesn’t really remind you of peas, just make sure butter and olive oil are mixed in the flour mixture). Add the egg and mix briefly.
Add the tahini and the lukewarm milk and mix until dough comes together, and a ball forms. If dough is too sticky add some more flour. Knead briefly on a floured surface and put in an oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and let dough rise in a draft free area, for about 1 -1 ½ hours.
Make the filling while dough rises. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Make the syrup. Put all ingredients in a small pot. Bring to boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool.
Preheat oven to 175 C. Line the bottom of a 30 cm round pan with removable sides (or use a disposable foil pan), with greaseproof paper. If your pan doesn’t have removable sides, cut your greaseproof paper larger, to also line the sides of the pan. This will help you remove the cooked pie.
Put your dough on a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin stretch to a large rectangle, about 50 x 70cm. Spread the filling evenly on the surface of the rectangle. I use a small offset spatula for ease but you can also use a silicone spatula or the back of a spoon. Starting from the long side, roll up the dough like a swiss roll. You will end up with a 70cm long roll. With a sharp knife slice the roll at about 2,5 cm intervals. Put your rolls, cut side up in the prepared pan. Don’t cramp them as they will expand and rise in the oven. Cover pan with a towel and let the rolls rest for 30 minutes.
Bake for 35-38 minutes, until nicely coloured. Take the pan out of the oven. Pour the syrup slowly and evenly on top of the rolls. Leave them to cool for 1-2 hours. Serve in a round platter, pull apart and enjoy.