Beirut Tahini Swirls from Home Baking for Cookbooks & Calphalon

UPDATE: Giveaway is Closed Stay tuned to learn about and enter the #CookbooksandCalphalon giveaway as well as the #CouplesCooking sweepstakes going on through September 1 over at the Calphalon site. I have not received any compensation for writing this post. Just so you know. Any Amazon links are affiliate links.

beirut tahini swirlsCookbooks and Calphalon (#CookbooksandCalphalon)

The lovely Colleen from Soufflé Bombay recently had a thought. She wondered what specific cookbook it was that made her fall in love with cooking. She then decided to ask the same question to a number of her foodie friends, myself included, and #CookbooksandCalphalon- was born! We each tell our stories of our love affair with cookbooks and cooking and share a wonderful recipes. With seventeen of us participating, you are sure to find many dishes--and book recommendations--to savor!

This wouldn't be complete without a fun giveaway for you to can't cook without cookware and you can't use cookware unless you can cook...right? So take a moment to enter our awesome Cookbooks and Calphalon Giveaway at the bottom of this post. Check out the fantastic prizes! I am thrilled to participate partly because I love the topic Colleen chose and partly because I own and love the majority of these cookbooks from Page Street Publishing. I don't own the panini press but I adore my Calphalon roaster.

C&C1C&C2Also, now through September 1st, Calphalon is celebrating couples with their #CouplesCooking social media promotion! From the first meal they create together in their new home to the meal they share on their 25th anniversary, couple cook up memories! The cookware they choose serves as the foundation for which these "Couples Cooking" memories are made.

Calphalon wants to recognize these #CouplesCooking moments by asking couples to share pictures of the meals they cook together for a chance to win $1,000 in Calphalon cookware! Calphalon is inviting couples to post photos of the meals they prepare with their significant other on Calphalon's Facebook page. To enter, couples will be asked to share why the dish is unique or special to them and use the hashtag #CouplesCooking on twitter. Pretty cool contest, huh?

Follow the #CookbooksandCalphalon fun on social media for great recipes, tips and more. Good luck in both the giveaway and the sweepstakes!

My Love Affair with Cookbooks

I grew up in a home with a mother who, apart from some staple meals--huge vats of spaghetti sauce that were then frozen in original Tupperware containers to be thawed on the counter for hours--cooked from books. For the first five years of my life, my father's mother lived with us also, but I honestly don't recall her cooking. I do recall drinking tea with milk and sugar with her though.

My mother was always game to throw a dinner party or have my dad's boss or out-of-town coworkers over for dinner. She would cook all sorts of interesting meals, all from books. I think it was the way she traveled. She majored in languages in college and had hopes of being an interpreter at the UN one day until her father's magazine tanked and she had to leave school. While she never made it to France, she made sure to make a Chocolate Charlotte Russe or a Pot de Creme for dessert when company came.

When I began collecting cookbooks in the early 1990s, my first goal was to buy books that had a billion recipes in each one. I was in the market for Compendia. 1000 recipes for cookies? Sign me up! 789 recipes from the backs of cans and stuff? I want it now. Later I tried to focus on books that were "Bibles." I have The Bread Bible, The Chocolate Bible, The Pie and Pastry Bible, The Cheese Bible, The Cake Bible... All the Bibles! Most of them really are, too. Focused and encyclopedic volumes about one slice of the huge baking and cooking pie. Eventually, I began to realize that across a wide array of recipes, the instructions were all similar. Lots of baking instructions started with "Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy." Many savory recipe instructions began with "Heat oil. Saute onions, carrots and celery together until fragrant."

Once I began to see the pattern, I began buying technique books. Cookwise. Bakewise. A great one called How to Cook Without A Book. I wanted to learn the techniques behind the recipes. And I have for the most part, but that's another story altogether.

I did go through a particularly expensive phase of buying Beautiful Cookbooks. Cookbooks that, even though full of great cooking information, would be more at home on a coffee table than in a messy kitchen. I love my beautiful cookbooks, and on occasion, I drag them into my messy kitchen so they can remember that they are cookbooks and not travelogues. Get them back in touch with their roots, as it were.

buns2Beirut Tahini Swirls

I chose today's recipe from one of my Beautiful Cookbooks, Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. I made these Beirut Tahini Swirl buns years ago, before I really knew what I was doing in the the kitchen. Back before I learned techniques and just followed recipes and hoped for the best. They turned out well, and I have always wanted to revisit them. This post was the perfect opportunity! Hooray!

I hope you'll be inspired to try these, especially if you are a fan of sesame.

4.5 from 4 reviews
Beirut Tahini Swirls from Home Baking for Cookbooks & Calphalon
Recipe type: Bread
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
The only change I've made to this recipe is to add salt to the dough.
What You Need
For the Dough
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • about 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
For the Filling
  • ¾ cup tahini
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
What To Do
For the Dough
  1. Place all the ingredients (start with 2 cups of flour) in the bowl of your stand mixer. Attach the dough hook and mix on low until a shaggy dough forms. Increase the speed and knead for several minutes.
  2. The dough will most likely be pretty soft at this point and sticking in the bottom of the bowl in a large circle. Add flour, a bit at a time, until the dough is only sticking in about a 1" circle. The dough will still be somewhat sticky, and that's okay. Knead for about ten minutes.
  3. Test the dough by lightly oiling your hands and then pulling on a piece of the dough. It should stretch out quite a bit before it tears. You can also try the windowpane test, but with all purpose flour, it doesn't always work so well. You should be able to stretch it fairly thin before it tears.
  4. Again with lightly oiled hands, form the dough into a ball, lightly oil it and let rise in a warm place, covered, for 2-3 hours, or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375F about an hour before you'll be baking. Put a rack in the center of the oven and put your baking stone on it to let it get good and hot.
For the Filling
  1. Stir the tahini and sugar together until smooth. Keep at room temperature.
  2. Press out the gases from the dough and divide into 6 pieces. My dough weighed 596 grams when finished, so I scaled my dough at about 99grams per portion.
  3. Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap.
  4. Roll the first ball into a rectangle (it will be a fairly rough shape, so don't be sad) about 5"x10". Spread the tahini filling all over the rectangle, coming pretty close to the edges.
  5. Roll each rectangle up into a cigar, starting with a long side. Pinch the seam to seal.
  6. Set that cigar aside and do the same with two more balls of dough. You'll work with the other three later.
  7. Gently stretch and roll each cigar of filled dough into a rope about 20" long. Coil each rope into a snail, tucking the end under and pressing down gently. Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  8. Alternating among the three snails, lightly roll each snail out into a 6"-7" circle. It might take a little finessing, so just go with it. Be gentle and take your time.
  9. Bake the three rolls on the preheated baking stone for 15-20 minutes. 18 minutes was perfect in my oven. The rolls should be lightly golden brown.
  10. Roll, fill and shape the remaining three balls of dough and bake them once the first three are done. Cool on wire racks.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  12. These guys are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.


Please take the time to read all the other bloggers' wonderful stories and mouthwatering recipes. It is quite a feast we have here for Cookbooks & Calphalon!

Tomato Jam - Healthy. Delicious.
Lemon Basil Chicken Thighs - Mind Over Batter
Homemade Spinach and Cheese Ravioli - Food Lust People Love
Spaghetti Parmesan - Food Ramblings
Plum and Pluot Galette - Fork Vs Spoon
Peanut Butter Squares - Kelly Bakes
Simple Apple Crisp - Real: The Kitchen and Beyond
Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake - The Redhead Baker
Beirut Tahini Swirls - Pastry Chef Online
Oat-chata - Healthy Slow Cooking

Thank you so much for spending some time with me today. Please do go check out all the other delicious recipes, and good luck in the giveaway! Have a lovely day.

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  1. says

    I love the evolution of your cookbook collecting, Jenni. I tend to find a new chef or writer that I love and buy All The Books. Which is okay when you come upon that person early in his or her career. It gets expensive when you want them all now – and they have 12 on the market.

    I am a huge fan of sesame so I am pretty sure I’d love these rolls. They sure are pretty!

    • says

      Thanks, Stacy! I haven’t bought a cookbook in a really long time. Sad, right? But I did spring for The Flavor Bible and can’t wait to inhale it!

      I honestly don’t know why these particular rolls captured me all those years ago, but they really are delicious. I’m going to warm one up and have it with my coffee in just a bit. So glad we were in this group together. =)

  2. says

    I too collect cookbooks Jenni – although we only had one or two in my house growing up; in fact, I now have the red Betty Crocker cookbook on my shelf – the red spine has fallen off and it’s tattered and worn, but it’s the book I began cooking from when I was 12 or 13.

    Love the look of these Tahini Swirls!

  3. Michelle M says

    I have so many cookbooks and even more recipes printed out or pinned. I have always loved food. I learned watching my mom; I learned by experimenting and in the beginning I was inspired and used the old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It really helped me learn the basics!

  4. says

    I have never either had these or heard of these, but they sure sound wonderful! I love that you have one of Pam Anderson;s cookbooks on your list!! Here “Perfect Recipes For having People Over” is in my top 5 favorite cookbooks of all time (I also thing her dedication, talent and passion is what made Cook’s Illustrated so darn good)! Thanks for joining in!

    • says

      I was thrilled to participate, Colleen! Thanks for having me. And if you like to bake and are a fan of tahini, these little guys are worth making! And since the recipe makes only six, it’s not a huge commitment! lol Yes, Pam Anderson is wonderful. that How to Cook without a Book was a revelation for me. I’ll have to look up Perfect Recipes for Having People Over, too!

  5. says

    Thanks for making something vegan just for me 😉

    I can’t wait to try these – I’ve never had tahini in bread before. I love it in hummus but hate it in sweet baked goods.

  6. says

    I collect cookbooks, but I’m really selective about it so I don’t end up with piles of them everywhere. And I actually use the books that I have. I’m waiting for a truly special occasion to whip something up from my Salvador Dali cookbook though. Interesting recipes in there. 😉

    • says

      Whoa, I bet there are some *really* interesting things in that cookbook, Pamela! I haven’t bought a cookbook in a really long time, but I did finally break down and order The Flavor Bible. Looking forward to reading it. 🙂

  7. says

    Wow I never knew this about you, all those ginormous cookbooks! Wow! No wonder you have so much baking knowledge! Very cool…. as are these amazing buns and I’m making them! I do have a huge jar of tahini in my fridge with nothing else to do! And wowee those cookbooks!

  8. says

    What a wonderful story, and what an amazing collection of books! I also own The Cake Bible and credit it for teaching me technique. That is what appeals to me about baking,the precise technique. Your tahini swirls are perfection.

    • says

      I am so glad I met you through this promotion, Angela! Yay! Glad you like the swirls–they are pretty delicious! The Cake Bible is my primary cooking bible these days–so much great info and technique. I tend to turn to my books more as references these days than for recipes, so bibles are awesome to have around!

  9. says

    Jenni, our childhood food experiences sound so similar! My mother did a ton of Italian-American classics, and my father’s mother – who also came to live with us for a time – was British, so we would have tea with milk and sugar together in the afternoons. I loved reading about your evolution of cookbook collecting. It is all about technique! These buns sound amazing – I can’t wait to try them!

  10. MrsJennyK says

    I have in my kitchen right now everything I need to make this! I think I will whip up a batch tonight or early tomorrow. I have a mom coming over for a play date tomorrow morning. These will be lovely to have.

    When I first got married at 19 I received, among other things, two cookbooks as wedding presents. One was the good old Betty Crocker one, the other was a “cooking with convenience foods” type of cookbook (the idea of which already grossed me out). But neither of those ignited a passion in me.

    What did? Laurel’s Kitchen. I bought a used copy from somewhere… We weren’t vegetarians but we were poor and it was my intention to make meat more of a side dish in order to be more frugal. That book is as much philosophy as cookbook and I could not live up to anything in there, so my cooking/being good enough guilt started early. But I strived. Oh I strived. I remember kneading bread until I thought my arms would fall off. I cooked pounds of beans. I tried to be mindful with every chop of a carrot. It was exhausting! LOL

    Still, the basics I learned there have always stuck in my mind, especially the idea that preparing food with love and care is a special way of making a connection with and truly giving something of ourselves to our loved ones.

    • says

      I think that’s the lesson food has to teach us and the most important/special reason why we cook for others. We aren’t vegetarians either, but I’m much more likely to use meat as a “flavoring” as opposed to the main event.

      You are so good to your family. I hope they appreciate you! <3

  11. says

    My Mom never cooked from cookbooks, but then she only cooked traditional meals which were out of this world good. As a culture it was unusual for anyone to cook anything but the traditional cuisine. So I really went nuts buying cookbooks when I started on my own.
    Baking is what takes more of my dough 😉 these days.. can’t have enough of technique books!

    • says

      LOL Ansh–I see what you did there! I envy you your rich cultural tradition of food though. How wonderful to be able to recreate your childhood favorites from memory. Indian cuisine–what I have had of it, anyway–is hands down my favorite food on the planet!

  12. says

    Ooooh. Of course I like any yeasty recipe. I have to say that I’ve never thought about using tahini as a filling, which is weird because I love sesame seeds. I need to try this.

  13. Margot C says

    I saw that recipe and had to come on over and take a look. I adore tahini (which I make myself in a food processor) and these look very interesting. I’m making them!

    • says

      I’d love to see them, Margot, and with your homemade tahini, no less. They are truly delicious. The tahini-sugar mixture tastes like tahini with sugar in it raw, but like gently sweetened tahini once it’s baked, if that makes sense. Perfect with coffee!

  14. Joan says

    What wonderful post and story about how you fell in love with cookbooks. The recipe sounds great too since I do love sesame seeds.

  15. Carla S says

    I used to love the old betty crocker cookbook in a binder. The pictures and the way it was setup made me start wanting to cook.

  16. Imane says

    I love the recipes you are making and I love your cookbook collections. As a Lebanese I love this recipe. thank you for posting it.

  17. Elizabeth @ in the loop says

    So fitting that you made these from one of your Beautiful Cookbooks because these are gorgeous and sound delicious!

  18. says

    Home Baking sounds like an amazing book! I love books like Baking By Hand, which cater to home bakers and still talk about technique. I’m going to need to check these out… and make these beautiful beirut tahini swirls! 🙂

    • says

      I’m a huge fan of Baking by Hand, too! I learned a lot just from reading it. And I think you’ll enjoy the tahini swirls–short list of ingredients, big on flavor, Kelly!

  19. says

    I love reading about a new cookbook (to me) and seeing a recipe that looks perfect for a non-sweet time. Yes, they really do exist…just very infrequently.

    BTW, I went through the same cookbook phases. It kills some people I know that I write in my cookbooks. I have to if I want to remember what I did and/or what everyone thought of the recipe!

    I wonder if you can see me jumping up and down screaming, PICK ME?!?!?

  20. Kelly says

    Julia Child made me fall in love with cooking.
    I watched her show when I was a little kid.
    I read cookbooks as if they are novels. LOVE THEM!


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