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.

beirut tahini swirls in a basket

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.

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  • 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!
sukkar bi tahin in a basket with a cookbook in the background

How to Make These Guys

Ingredients

All you need is a total of seven ingredients. Nice!

collage of ingredients for sukkar bi tahin

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

Procedure

2 sukkar bi tahin buns
You can see here how the coils stick and sort of blend together after rolled and baked.

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.

  1. Divide dough into 6 pieces.
  2. Press each piece out into a rectangle.
  3. Spread filling on each piece.
  4. Roll up like a cigar.
  5. Roll each cigar out until it’s about 20″ long.
  6. Coil up the filled rope of dough, tucking the end under so it doesn’t unroll.
  7. 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.

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.

More Middle Eastern delights include Date Walnut thumbprint cookies and Tahdig, the magical Persian rice dish.

5 golden stars for rating recipes
beirut tahini swirls

Beirut Tahini Swirls (Sukkar bi Tahin)

Jennifer Field
These lightly sweetened tahini buns are absolutely delicious. Perfec with a cup of tea or coffee, Beirut tahini swirls take just a few simple ingredients and turn them into a real treat.
4.50 from 4 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Bread and Rolls Recipes
Cuisine Lebanese
Servings 6
Calories 490 kcal

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • ½ 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

  • ¾ cup tahini
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

Instructions
 

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.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 490kcalCarbohydrates: 73gProtein: 11gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gSodium: 366mgFiber: 3gSugar: 26g
Did you make this recipe?Please tell us what you loved!

And there you have it, friends! Enjoy these wonderful Lebanese treats.

Take care, and have a lovely day.

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59 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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?!?!?

  3. 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! 🙂

    1. 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!

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

  5. 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.

    1. Thank you so much, Imane! Have you ever had these guys before? They’re pretty amazing! And I have sort of a mystical love for Lebanon, even though I know very little about the country. I heard a piece on NPR a few years ago called “Kibbe at the Crossroads” about the Lebanese community in the heart of Mississippi, and it somehow spoke to me. So when I saw that these sukkar bi tahin were Lebanese *and* contained tahini, which I love, I had to make them. Here’s the story if you haven’t heard it before: http://www.npr.org/2008/01/31/18547399/kibbe-at-the-crossroads-a-lebanese-kitchen-story

  6. 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.

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

  8. 4 stars
    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!

    1. 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!

4.50 from 4 votes

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