Tahini buns (tahinli çörek) by Emine Hassan

Tahini buns (tahinli çörek)

While I agree there’s nothing better than dipping a big chunk of warm bread in a bowl of tahini, recipes with tahini are endless and just…good. Sophie told me that she uses it to make vegan chocolate fudge. Another genius use for tahini is to stir it through some buttercream before layering with cake or adding a teaspoon to Greek yoghurt and dipping cubes of fried aubergine in it. It’s clear that tahini is a sweet and savoury melting pot. 

I’ve discovered that my favourite thing to do with it is to complement this stuff of gods with crappy vegetable fat. If I’m going to spread tahini on some dough like I would with a cinnamon bun, there needs to be a savouriness to make up for that lack of spiciness, even if it comes from smelly veggie fat. Dare I even say that using a pastry chef’s nightmare ingredient in a recipe actually yields flakier results? You’re not reminded of the richness of butter with these buns, instead there are crumbly edges and short textured interiors. I tell ya, veggie fat really brings out the pure taste of carbohydrates.

Tahini buns (tahinli çörek)

Makes 16 buns 


For the dough

  • 560g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 240g vegetable fat or margarine, cold and cubed
  • 300g buttermilk, cold
  • 1 egg
  • 50g poppy or sesame seeds

For the filling

  • 150g tahini
  • 120g sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/160 fan/gas mark 4 and line 3 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Put the tahini and sugar in a small bowl, stir and set aside. The mixture should be thick and spreadable.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and cubed margarine to a bowl and mix with an electric whisk until the texture is coarse and there are still lumps of butter here and there. Make a well in the middle and pour in the buttermilk, then mix until the dough looks shaggy.
  3. Tip out onto a clean surface and lightly knead into a rough ball, then leave to rest for ten 10 minutes. Split the dough in half and put one aside. Flour the surface again and roll the first half into a 30cm circle, then roll the second half of dough so that it looks identical to the first half.
  4. Spread the tahini sugar paste over one half, making sure to go right to the corners, then carefully lay the second half on top. Using a pizza roller or knife, cut ½ inch strips diagonally. Hold 1 strip from both ends, lift and twist, then repeat until the strip is completely twisted. Tightly roll the strip into a round then tuck the end in the bottom of the bun.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the buns, then space them apart on the baking trays. Beat the egg in a small bowl and brush each bun with it, then sprinkle with the seeds. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown, leave to cool and then serve. These are best eaten the day they are made.