In Cyprus, nowadays, you are not very likely to come across someone making “tahinopittes” at home. They are time consuming, and with everyone leading busy lives and bakeries on every corner, I suppose people (me included) think “why bother”? In Cyprus, shops traditionally shut for lunch breaks, on Sundays, and Wednesday afternoons. But the bakeries? The bakeries are open. Some remain open 24 hours a day. This goes to show you how seriously Cypriots take their baked goods. Do you want a “tahinopita” in the middle of the night? Yes. No problem. Do you want to grocery shopping on a Wednesday afternoon? Nope. Not possible. (Actually since a new law was passed, it is now possible, but this is a different discussion.) We have posted another tahinopita recipe here. Some who tried that recipe have even said they were the best tahinopittes they have ever tried. But I was after something a little softer – more bakery style. Something that would remind me of the “tahinopittes” we used to buy from a man on the back of his bike twenty years ago. (This is one way that you used to be able to buy them.) Having spent an hour with an expert “tahinopita” maker, I feel very lucky to have now learned how to make soft and goey “tahinopittes”. A few things you need to know right from the start: you need the right kind of filling for starters and there is a difference between “white” tahini and “brown” tahini. The difference is that white sesame seeds are hulled, and unhulled sesame seeds (unless they are of the black variety) are brown. If you make a tahini butter from white seeds it is smooth, while a tahini from unhulled seeds it is rough and brown, but it has more fiber. You know the dip you have when eating meze or savoury food at a Cypriot or Greek restaurant – that’s the tahini made from white seeds. In addition, you need to make sure you are using the right dough – otherwise your “tahinopittes” may become hard and frisbee-like. Also, in this recipe, you WANT the tahini to mingle with the dough so don’t be scared if it oozes out the sides and mingles with the dough as you make them! Enough talking for today, here is the recipe:
For the dough:
1 cup & 1 scant cup village flour (durum flour) (A scant cup means the cup is not filled to the top)
1/4 cup all purpose flour (“00″ flour)
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 to 1 scant cup warm water
For the tahini filling:
1 cup brown tahini
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup & 1 tbs white sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp baking soda
2. Prepare your tahini filling. Add the ingredients together and stir. The texture should be a bit rough – not smooth.
3. In a large bowl combine the flour, dry yeast, salt, baking soda and vegetable oil. Using a dough hook on your mixer (or you can do this by hand), mix the ingredients together so that they become slightly sticky (about 1-2 minutes).
4. Continue to mix for about 5 to 10 minutes and add slowly add the water. The dough should come together as a smooth ball, with a slight almost shine to it. You may need to adjust the water (a little less or a little more) depending on when your dough forms a ball.
6. Pour about 1 tbs of the tahini mixture in the center of each circle. Grab the two “corners” of the circle closest to you and bring them forward (i.e. away from you) to touch the other two “corners” of the circle away from you. (I know that circles don’t have corners, but please pretend they do.) Some of the tahini mixture may squeeze out but this is OK.
7. Roll the dough out into a long cylinder. Roll over any excess tahini mixture that appears on the table, enveloping the tahini mixture on the table into the dough as you do so.
8. By this stage you should have a long cylinder – about 20 centimetres long. Fold it in half in the center and begin to roll the dough again into one cylinder. As you roll it this time, twist the ends in opposite directions to create a “swirl/twist” effect (see the picture collage above). When it is about 15 centimetres long, curl the ends and take one end and place it on top of the other. Make the other 5 “tahinopittes” before proceeding.
9. Before placing the “tahinopittes” onto a baking try, squish each “tahinopita” with the palm of your hand into a flat disc.
11. If you still aren’t happy with what you got, email me and I will try to help – these can be a bit finicky! But are WELL worth the effort for that final taste. yum, yum, yum.