Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bread Baking Babes in Beruit?

This month, our host kitchen was the lovely Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies and she had us make Sukkar bi Tahin or Beruit Tahini Rolls.

BBB logo july 2009

Because of these little wound up sesame paste infused addicting yeast rolls, I've made a most eye-opening discovery: every culture has its own version of a cinnamon roll. I've also reacquainted myself with that old adage don't judge a book by its cover. You see, I was skeptical when I first saw this recipe (Sorry Natashya).

I'm not a big sesame fan. The smell of tosting sesame seeds makes me gag and I hate the texture of the seeds when I bite into them. Heck, I even make the poor sushi chef at the place I eat lunch at two times a week leave off the sesame seeds from my spicy tuna roll. Since this recipe relies on tahani, a paste made entirely of ground sesame seeds, I was pretty sure I wouldn't really like the taste of these. Further, because I was going to have to make these while I was in Michigan on vacation, I was darn sure my culinary challenged family in Northern Michigan wouldn't like them either.

Then there was the little problem of finding tahani in B$% F@#$ Northern Michigan. Now, the far reaches of the Lower Pennisula are becoming a bit more worldly in the offerings of hard to find international ingredients in the local market. Heck, they even have a whole aisle now called "International Food" in my folks supermarket. Sure, a full third of the aisle is dedicated to Old El Paso, La Choy, and Prego but they also have digestive cookies from the UK, pickled eggs from Poland, and for some reason all the Kosher food there too. The last time I was home I even found black bean paste to make some pot stickers. But, I knew they wouldn't have tahani.

Luckily, on one of the days I was home before heading out on the sailboat, I made a trip into Petoskey to stock up on some gourmet provisions at Symon's General Store, the first and probably best stocked gourmet food store in far Northern Michigan. Sure enough, they had some tahani in the Jiffy peanut butter jar size container. Hmm, what was I going to do with all that tahani?

Brain kicked in and next thing you know, I'm planning on not only making these for my family but also for the crew of the sailboat. Crazy. Just plain crazy, I know. But, what the hay, I was on vacation and part of my plan was to have a good time in the galley.

Once I had the tahani, the rest of the recipe was pretty easy. The dough took no time at all and even in the damp, cool galley rose pretty nicely. I did have to resort to the place the dough in the microwave to keep it out drafts instead of the little galley oven because I was using the oven at the same time to roast some veggies. Otherwise, it was just like making a big cinnamon roll you flatten. Instead of sesame seeds on top of the roll, I brushed the top with a simple syrup I made for mixed drinks.

I served the rolls warm with strong tea for a mid afternoon break on a blustery day when we dropped anchor in the lee side of the Keweenaw Pennisula to wait out some rather gusty winds before making our run to Isle Royale. They were a hit. The tahani/sugar filling added just a mildly sweet taste to the roll and the simple syrup had baked the outer part of the roll sweet and crisp.

The only other little problem I faced on the sailboat was there wasn't a cooling rack big enough to hold all the rolls when they were finished baking. So, I improvised and used the steaming basket insert to hold four of the eight rolls I made.

beruit tahani swirls

I also had a lot of left over tahani/sugar filling. That didn't last long as the three guys used it like peanut butter on anything they could find to spread it on.

The second time I made the rolls for my family, I cut back on the amount of filling I made and topped the rolls with a mixture of brown and white sugar. Much to my surprise, even my brother's super and I mean super picky son who won't eat anything that is brown liked them. I already have a request to make him some when I visit my brother and his family in the fall.

You can join us as a Bread Baking Buddy this month by baking the Sukkar bi Tahin (recipe below), blogging about it, and then emailing Natashya by August 1. She'll send you a nice badge for your blog and include your post in a round up.

If you want to see a whole bunch more of the Babes delicious buns (NO, not those types of buns...sheesh), go check out my fellow Babes over there on the side bar.

Sukkar bi Tahin - Beirut Tahini Swirls
Home Baking, The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World
Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Makes 6 golden brown, flaky textured coiled rounds, about 6 inches wide, filled with sesame paste and sugar.

1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
About 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil

3/4 cup tahini
3/4 cup sugar

In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Stir in one cup of the flour, then add the sugar and oil and stir in. Incorporate a second cup of flour, then turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 to 3 hours, until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them, (or a baking sheet) on the middle oven rack and preheat the oven to 375 F. Mix together the tahini and sugar and stir until smooth. Set aside.

Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Work with 3 at a time, keeping the others covered. Flatten each out on a lightly floured surface, then roll each out to a rectangle about 5 inches by 10 inches. Spread the top surface with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the filling mixture, spreading it almost to the edges. Roll up the rectangle from a long side into a cylinder, which will stretch as you roll to about 20 inches long. Anchor one end and coil the bread around itself, then tuck the end in. Flatten with the palm of your hand, then set aside, covered, while you fill and shape the other 2 rectangles.

Return to the first coil and roll out gently with a rolling pin. Roll the other 2 out a little and then return to the first one and roll it out a little more thinly, and so on, until you have rolled each to a round about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. A little filling may leak out—don’t worry, just leave it.

Place the breads on the hot baking stone or tiles (or baking sheet) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and flaky. Transfer to a rack to cool.Shape and bake the remaining 3 pieces of dough. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I have made these twice so far, once according to the original recipe, and once with whole wheat flour and brown sugar. I have to admit, I liked the original best. I will try once more with a combination of both.
These can be made in an afternoon, and once you have tried them you will want to make them again!

*Tahini is a paste of ground sesame seeds. It can be found in health food stores, Middle Eastern markets and some grocery stores. It is a common ingredient in hummus, and is gaining in popularity in most parts of the world. It must be refrigerated after opening.

** My tahini has been out since I bought it two weeks ago and even made a trip home in a box that the USPS just delivered to me. It seems to be fine without refrigeration. I made hummus with it last night and I'm still alive (so far). But I suspect that like any nut based spread, it would go rancid if not used quickly. So, use your own judgment about the fridge.