Tahinopita (Tahini Sweet Bread)

Tahinopita, literally meaning “tahini pie” is a well-loved Cypriot sweet bread/cake, traditionally eaten during Lent. Marianna, who is half Cypriot, grew up with tahinopita, be it from the neighbourhood bakery, or home-made by her mother and aunts. I, on the other hand did not, as tahinopita was not part of my culinary universe.

So when I was researching for this recipe I was, I must confess, not so enthusiastic about it. In its many versions, it read like a sweet bread with sweet tahini, which is a much loved combination, but nothing more than that.

Well. Let me tell you, I was standing in my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, fragrant smells of cinnamon, mahleb and cloves all around me, tasting perhaps one of the most delicious baked goods I’ve ever made.

The recipe is quite straightforward. You make the dough and the filling and then put them together. There are various ways to do so, and you can have a look at this video which is quite helpful. There’s also a much simpler way, which you can find here and which we used. It is very similar to making cinnamon rolls.

We got inspired by Georgina Hayden’s recipe who uses carob molasses in the filling and we absolutely loved the idea!

For the dough
350g flour
½ tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp aromatic spices such as mahleb, mastiha, vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 sachet dried yeast (7g)
275ml lukewarm water

For the filling
200g tahini
125g white sugar
3 tbsp carob molasses
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
3tbsp water

To serve
wild flower honey (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160C.

First make the dough. Add the yeast to a jug with the lukewarm water and let it stand for a couple of minutes. In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, baking soda, and all the spices. Add the yeast/water mixture and using a fork bring everything together. Transfer your dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until you have an elastic dough, around 10min. Dust your bowl with some flour and return the dough to your bowl. Let it rest in a warm place while you prepare the filling, around 15min.

To make the filling, gently whisk together the tahini, sugar, carob molasses, spices, olive oil and water. You should have a thick-but-not-too-thick paste. Set aside.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle, around 2-3mm thick. Spread the filling on top. Then roll up the dough, cut in thick pieces, turn them on their side (like you would do with cinnamon rolls), and gently push them down, so that you have a small, round tahinopitas, resembling cookies. Alternatively, you can follow the traditional way: Fold the dough like an envelope, so that you have two layers of dough, with the filling in between. Roll up the dough and twist it around like a cheese stick. Roll it like a snail.

Place them in a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven at 160C for approx. 20minutes.

Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey, if using. Enjoy!

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