Sukkar Bi Tahin or Beirut tahini swirls are addictive lean pastries with a just-sweet-enough tahini filling. You will love them with a cup of tea or coffee.
This recipe comes from the magnificent cookbook Home Baking, by Jeffrey Alford and Naoimi Duguid.
If you are a fan of yeasted breads to enjoy for morning or afternoon tea, you may also like my sweet tahini challah, chocolate babka, and pumpkin pecan babka recipes.
Why You Need to Make These
When you think about tahini, you may not think “sweet desserts,” but considering that tahini is pretty similar in flavor to peanut butter, maybe it will make more sense.
Peanut butter is equally at home in savory preparations like soups and satay–or as a savory foil to sweet jelly in a sandwich–as it is in peanut butter cookies and peanut butter fudge.
Here’s why you need these tahini swirls in your life.
- Easy to make. They have a pretty minimal ingredient list, and the payoff is bite after bite of warm, gooey, just-sweet-enough goodness.
- Not too sweet. I have to say that, while I am a fan of a gooey cinnamon roll, it’s nice to have a pastry that’s not quite so sweet. That you can enjoy with coffee without your teeth aching. These guys totally fit the bill.
- Small-ish batch recipe. If you make these full-sized, you end up with six buns. And of course you can split them. Or you can make them half-size and end up with twelve. Either way, you won’t be swimming in pastries.
- They freeze well. Like most yeast breads, these buns will freeze just fine for about three months. So if even six is too many, know they’ll be waiting for you in the freezer!
How to Make These Guys
All you need is a total of seven ingredients. Nice!
For the Dough:
- yeast: for rise. You can use either active dry yeast or instant yeast. If you are not sure if your active dry yeast is still alive and kicking, stir it together with the warm water and first amount of sugar and let it proof. Then add it to the rest of the ingredients in the mixer.
- water: warm water. Not too hot and not too cold. If it feels cozy to you, it’ll be cozy for the yeast. Aim for around 110F or so
- sugar: gives the yeast a headstart by giving them ready food to nibble on. You can also use honey, maple syrup, or even brown sugar
- flour: all-purpose is fine here. You can substitute bread flour for a bit more chewy buns, but you may need to add a little bit extra water
- salt: controls the yeast growth and brings out flavor
- olive oil: adds just a little fat to tenderize the gluten
For the Filling:
- tahini: unsweetened sesame paste. You can substitute natural peanut butter, sun butter, almond butter or any other natural nut butter to change up the flavor or if you have a sesame allergy
- sugar: lightly sweetens the sesame paste. Add a little less or a little more depending on how sweet you want your filling to be. I think the 1:1 ratio is just perfect though
Tahini swirls are easy to make and fun to shape.
To make the dough, put all the ingredients in the mixer at one time and knead until the dough is smooth and mostly clears the sides of the bowl.
To shape the dough, think of it as making cinnamon rolls with just a couple of slight modifications.
- Divide dough into 6 pieces.
- Press each piece out into a rectangle.
- Spread filling on each piece.
- Roll up like a cigar.
- Roll each cigar out until it’s about 20″ long.
- Coil up the filled rope of dough, tucking the end under so it doesn’t unroll.
- Use your rolling pin to roll and flatten so the coils stick together.
This is pretty much the same technique you’d use to make scallion pancakes.
Tips for Success
Don’t rush the kneading process. You want the dough to be smooth, shiny, and stretchy. This can take about ten minutes of kneading on medium to medium-low speed.
Proof your yeast if you’re not sure if it’s still active. Instant yeast should be fine, honestly, but sometimes active dry yeast can be tempermental. To be sure your yeast is active, mix it together with the warm water and 2 teaspoons of sugar and let it sit until foamy. Then proceed with the recipe.
Scale them out accurately. Buns of the same size will bake at the same rate, so for accuracy’s sake, use a kitchen scale to weigh out your dough rather than just eyeballing it.
If you have questions about this post or recipe, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you within about 24 hours.
If your question is more urgent, please shoot me an email, and I will respond within 4 hours, unless I’m asleep.
More Middle Eastern Recipes
If lightly sweet is your thing, you’ll really enjoy these lovely Persian Saffron Raisin Cookies from my friend Laura and Family Spice.
And don’t forget hummus, because it’s delicious. Beth’s Preserved Lemon Hummus over at OMGYummy! is not to be missed.
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For the Dough
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- about 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
For the Filling
- 3/4 cup tahini
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
For the Dough
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Stir the tahini and sugar together until smooth. Keep at room temperature.
- 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.
- Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap.
- 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.
- Roll each rectangle up into a cigar, starting with a long side. Pinch the seam to seal.
- Set that cigar aside and do the same with two more balls of dough. You'll work with the other three later.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Roll, fill and shape the remaining three balls of dough and bake them once the first three are done. Cool on wire racks.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- These guys are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
If you'd like, you can scale these rolls at half-size and make 12 smaller pastries.
To store, keep at room temperature, wrapped, for 2 days. For longer storage, freeze in freezer bags and thaw at medium power in the microwave.
These tahini swirls are good at room temperature, but they really shine when served slightly warm. Reheat in the microwave for a few seconds or wrapped in foil in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes.
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Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 490Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 0mgSodium 366mgCarbohydrates 73gFiber 3gSugar 26gProtein 11g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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And there you have it, friends! Enjoy these wonderful Lebanese treats.
Take care, and have a lovely day.