What I learned when making tahinopittes: 1. Do not overload a tahinopita with lots of tahini, no matter how much you like the sweet tahini mixture. You will end up making goo-balls. 2. For dough to rise, it needs a warm environment and time. Do not rush this process unless you wish your tahinopittes to taste like hockey pucks. 3. There seems to be only one tahinopita recipe in existence on the internet and in cookbooks. Luckily, it is pretty good. As you might have gathered, this week I made tahinopittes with the wonderful Mrs Cypriot & Proud. I think tahinopittes are basically the Mediterranean version of sticky, gooey, sweet cinnamon buns. They are a Lenten (“nistisima”) food, and so are quite popular now. They are hard to make, but worth the effort if you have the time. The best time to enjoy them is when they are right out of the oven, warm, soft and gooey. In fact, writing this is making me want to eat one which is exactly what I am going to do!
Cooking Time: about 30 minutes.
Makes about 20 small-medium tahinopittes
For the dough:
6 cups hard flour
2 cups and 6 dsp soft flour
1 level tsp salt
7 gr bake yeast
1 cup sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch ground mastic
1 pinch ground mahaleb cherry kernels
3 cups like-warm water (as much as needed)
For the filling:
720 gr sesame seed paste (tahini)
3 cups sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
For the glaze:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2. Gradually add the luke warm water and knead, as in the picture to the right, into a normal dough until the dough becomes shiny.
3. Cover with tea towels and leave in a warm place, (e.g. a room with a heater on), and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.
4. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. In a bowl, combine the tahini, sugar and cinnamon. Stir the ingredients with a metal spoon ensuring that the cinnamon is completely mixed throughout the paste.
5. Check on the dough after 30 minutes. A newbie note: generally speaking, the longer you leave dough to rise, the softer the bread will be once it is baked. Therefore, if you have the time I would recommend leaving the dough to rise for about an hour before the next step. Even if you do not, the tahinopittes will still be good, just not as soft as they could be.
6. After 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on your available time), divide the dough into roughly 20 pieces and shape into balls. Cover with a towel to keep them soft.
8. In the center of the sheet, put 2 heaped tbsp filling and spread the filling flat over the surface leaving a 1cm gap around the edge.
9. Fold the long side of the sheet towards the centre to cover 2/3 of the sheet and bring the remaining 1/3 over.
11. Roll the two ends of the rope in opposite directions to form two snail’s shells. Bring one snail’s shell over the other and press with your hands. Now don’t be upset if some of the tahini squeezes out at this stage! The tahinopita will still taste good, but it may mean you need a little less tahini next time. I, for one, was so excited to make tahinopittes that I learned this the hard, err more like gooey, way!
12. Prepare all the tahinopittes the same way. Cover the tahinopittes with plastic wrap so that they don’t dry out. At this stage, you must let the tahinopittes rise again. Leave them for another 30min to 1 hr, depending on your available time. Remember, the longer you leave them, the softer they will be!
13. Pre-heat the oven to 175C.
14. Place tahinopittes on a greased pan and bake until golden brown for about 30 minutes.
15. While the tahinopittes are baking, prepare the glaze. Add the water, sugar, cloves and cinnamon in a pot and place on the stove over medium heat. Stir the mixture until it thickens. Take off the stove and let cool.
Recipe taken and modified from Fotini Evangelatou’s Cyprus Country House Recipes.