Traditional Sweet Tahini Pies (“Tahinopittes”) | AΦRODITE's KITCHEN | A Cyprus Food Blog

I decided to highlight this post from 2013 as it’s one of my favourites. It’s all about how to make tahinopittes, which I think a lot of people are interested in. Any questions, please just ask! Christina tahinopita recipe tahinopittes recipeTwo years. It has taken me 2 years to find a good “tahinopita” recipe. 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.) tahinopittesSo why didn’t I follow a “tahinopita” recipe? Well, it just isn’t the same as learning from someone who used to make them … a lot. For one, there seems to be one “tahinopita” recipe that is in circulation on the internet and in cookbooks. I tried it and I can’t say that it really “did the trick” for me. Most likely because it was my first time making “tahinopittes” and/or because I just didn’t know how to properly handle the dough. They turned out OK. But what I wanted  – and have been searching for – is a “tahinopita” recipe 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.)tahinopittes-6012I wanted a recipe that would describe HOW to make sure that my “tahinopita” would turn out well. In other words, I needed a “tahinopita” recipe for dummies. Having spent an hour with an expert “tahinopita” maker, I feel very lucky to have now learned how to make “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. makingtahinopittesYou 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 the first time I made “tahinopittes”, I was really disappointed at how much tahini was squeezing out in between the dough – it was like my “tahinopittes” exlpoded. I put this down to me adding too much tahini. Which I think is probably the case, since I love tahini. But what I learned this time is that you actually WANT the tahini to mingle with the dough. So the fact that it was squeezing through was OK – I just need to work on my “folding” skills. Enough talking for today, here is the recipe:tahinopittes-6007

akstampLevel of Difficulty: 4/5
Preparation Time: about 30 minutes
Cooking Time: about 15-20 minutes
Makes about 6 medium sized tahinopittes

ingredients

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 “00” flour (all purpose flour is OK)
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

recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

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.

5. On a flat clean surface, pour about 1 tbs of vegetable oil. Cut your dough into six equal pieces of dough and shape them into circles with a little groove in the middle.

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 “tahinopitta” with the palm of your hand into a flat disc.

10. Place on a baking tray and leave to rise for 15 minutes. Place in oven for about 20 minutes, keeping an eye on them to lightly brown on top.

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.

 

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28 Comments

  1. Hi
    Sounds delicious!!!!! But I dont quite get the curling the ends!!! what exactly do you mean???? “When it is about 15 centimetres long, curl the ends and take one end and place it on top of the other.” Thanx 🙂

    • afroditeskitchen

      Hi Soulli, thanks for stopping by the website. 🙂 OK, so first the curling. I think maybe it’s better illustrated by a picture – there is one in the bottom left hand corner of the picture collage above. That’s what I mean by curling – sort of making a fancy “S” shape with the dough. The next step is to fold the “S” in half – in doing so, the ends of the “S” will end up on top of each other, forming a little flat disc. Does that help?

  2. Hi,keen to try this. I presume the tahini I have is white, I haven’t come across brown yet. Is it easily available?

    • afroditeskitchen

      Hi Michelle, thanks for stopping by. If you live in Cyprus, it is pretty easy to find. Just pop by your local bakery who will probably sell you some (it’s not on the shelves). If you are in North America or elsewhere, I presume it will be a bit trickier. (I know in Canada it would be tricky as that’s where I am from.) I would recommend trying your nearest health food store, or Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food/deli shop. “Brown” tahini is a bit healthier than the white, so that’s why I think a health food store might have some or be able to point you in the right direction. Hope that helps – if you want, let me know how the search goes and whereabouts you are – maybe something more will come to me. Also – I should add – you COULD make it with white tahini, it just won’t taste as “rich” and it might be more granular and (in my opinion) stick to your mouth like peanut butter does.

  3. Hi, I’ve tried making tahinopittes before, but the dough, when baked, was too “fluffy”, more like the cinnamon rolls. I heard that you have to let the dough rise twice?… Is that right? Also I heard that some bakeries tend to pour some syroup on them after they come out of the oven. It gives them the extra sticky moist texture I love. By the way, best tahinopittes in Nicosia to be found in the small bakery just before the big church in the middle of Strovolos!

    • afroditeskitchen

      I have made tahinopittes three times – twice with the guidance of someone who makes them professionally, as they are a bit tricky and I wanted to make sure the recipe was a good one! We actually didn’t let them rise that much at all – 15 minutes just before popping them into the oven. I found this surprising, because other recipes I have read say that they should be left to rise. But I have to say that they tasted great, so I am not complaining and I wouldn’t switch the recipe. As for the “bakery” tricks – some of them add vegetable oil into the tahini mix as well as into the dough – this makes the dough softer, and means that the tahini “goes further” in that the tahini mix is almost a bit diluted. Also, the addition of “baking soda” is what gives tahinpittes the brown-ish colour – something I learned while I was learning from my teacher (who makes them as a living). Also, when we made them, we didn’t pour any syrup on afterwards, but personally, I think you could – but it would have to be the type of syrup that is absorbed – not just the tahini mixture which would sort of sit on top. I totally agree – I love the moist texture. Yum! And thank you so much for the tip, I will definitely visit! I am always on the look out for the best of traditional Cyprus treats – so much to offer, but it seems you really have to know where to go, right?? Christina xx

  4. Hi. I am wondering if some of the recipe can be substituted with other things. Like brown flour along with some village and honey instead of sugar. We only eat organic in our house. I make bread with a little honey and it turns fantastic. I would love to make these as a surprise for my husband who is Cypriot.

    • afroditeskitchen

      Hi! What a lovely idea to make them for your husband! I think the combination of brown flour (instead of the all purpose/”00″) and village flour should be OK. I think substituting honey for the sugar in the tahini spread shouuuld be OK, but the sugar (in addition to adding sweetness) adds a bit of a grainy texture to the paste, making it thicker, which is nice. So I am just wondering if you add honey whether the paste might become a little runny? But I think, overall, it should be OK, and it might have the added bonus of adding some moisture to the dough, and I think it shouldn’t change the taste of the tahinopita too much. … Your comment is actually making me wonder if it might be nice to add some coconut flakes and/or coconut sugar instead of normal sugar in the paste! I might have to try that next time – it could be really nice modern take of a tahinopita! … I am a big fan of organic food too in my place (though I find it expensive in Cyprus!). I am actually working on a pizza dough recipe with honey at the moment. I bet bread with honey would be really great. I hope they turn out well for you! Please feel free to let me know how it goes, or ask anymore questions if you have them!

  5. Helen

    I have to say I have tried other tahinopita recipes and this by far was the best. Originally a Cypriot born in the UK, now living in BC Canada, my family really miss the fact we do not have Cypriot pastries available ( we used to buy them all the time in the UK). The taste and texture where reminiscent of the ones we used to buy. Incidentally, I used wholewheat flour instead of village flour. Great recipe, will certainly be using it again!

    • afroditeskitchen

      Hi Helen! So wonderful to hear from you – thanks for leaving a comment! I am from Victoria BC (I probably said that somewhere on the blog but just in case I didn’t ). Where in BC do you live now? I think it’s great you used wholewheat flour – I have often wondered myself how it would turn out, so I am glad to hear that they taste great! Thank you so much again for your kind words!

  6. I live in Abbotsford, in the Fraser Valley. I have yet to meet a Greek out here, there are a few Cypriot families in Vancouver. Just made them again, they have not lasted longagain!!

    • afroditeskitchen

      haha Helen, I am glad you are enjoying them! It makes me want to go buy one for breakfast now! There are quite a few Greeks in Victoria, but just a few Cypriots. I met most of my Cypriot friends in London (England)!

  7. Thank you for this lovely recipe! I love tahinopita, and it’s hard to find the original ones that taste so much better 🙂

    • afroditeskitchen

      I hope you enjoy Maria! Yes, I love the original ones too – I really miss the ones you could buy off of the back of bikes! Haven’t been able to find ones like that for AGES! Enjoy!

  8. Hi I am so excited to have found a recipe for good tahinopitas.. I really want to surprise my husband with them as he keeps saying that he wants ones like his mum use to make. I will adapt the recipe to wholemeal flour and honey or coconut palm sugar. Thank you again for the recipe.

  9. νόστιμα! Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ για τη συνταγή. Πρόσθεσα λίγο περισσότερο ταχίνι και ήταν τέλεια.

  10. This looks like a great recipe. I miss these so much from my months in Cyprus, several years ago. My favorite place was (i believe) right on Trikoupi inside the old city, near the municipal market. There was really nothing like their tahinopittes.

    • afroditeskitchen

      Thanks for your message! I have to try it, I am always on the look out for good tahinopittes – I really miss the ones you could buy on the back of a bike by the beach!

  11. I live in the UK
    Can you tell me what oo or village flour would be please? I’m used to ‘plain’ ‘self raising’ or bread flour
    I’d love to try the recipe as I discovered tahinipittas while sysingbwith friends in Cyprus (Limassol) but have never seen them in the U .

    • afroditeskitchen

      Hi Ros, thanks for your message. I just wrote an article about Cyprus flours actually so I go into detail about what village flour is, so you might want to take a look here? Village flour is basically yellow in colour and is durum flour so I’d go with that and pick the flour closest to that. I wish I could export some flour to you! I am thinking to create a shop on the website, so maybe in future!

      • Thank you. I will try and find som . Is all purpose flour the same as what we call ‘plain’ flour? ( no raising agents added)

        • afroditeskitchen

          Hi Ros, not it’s slightly different. Plain flour is technically a type of all purpose flour, but it has more protein than All Purpose Flour, and that means that you can end up with a “harder” result in your baking. Generally, if you are using baking soda and no yeast, then All Purpose Flour is good, if your raising agent is yeast and not baking soda/baking powder, then you start getting into the higher protein flours like Plain Flour and Village Flour, Bread Flour. Hope that helps!?

  12. Nikisńkitvhen

    Durum wheat is sometimes called pasta flour. It’s basically fine ground semolina. Σιμιγδάλι, that’s why the yellow color.
    I have made them with whole wheat and all-purpose flour and worked fine.

  13. Bless you, Aphrodite! My kids are getting tired of Lent, and these may be what we need to make it to Pascha:)

  14. fiquei muito feliz quando encontrei esse site hoje moro no brasil mas ja morei no chipre e tenho muita saudades a culinaria e maravilhosa e seus paes deliciosos mas oque mi da saudades e do trahana

  15. Hi , just back from a holiday in Cyprus and was looking for this recipe to try as I really liked them . Don’t know if I will be able to make them properly but I will give them a try . Thanks for the recipe.

  16. Tried your recipe today, very good but it needs little more filling in the pastry,thanks anyway.

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