While the rest of the country sits in freezing temperatures, I'm lounging in cotton mens pajamas and flip flops. The air heady with bubbly yeast, bread, sweetness and alchemy -- all wafting from the oven and kettle. I'm actually wishing for a little winter! In these parts of Southern California, we don't do snow, we do drought . . . It's a twisted mashup of sunshine, blue skies and heat right now! Craziness . . .  Which brings me to the task at hand: Prince Vladimir Tea and Tahini Buns.
Nothing warms the soul and sticks to the ribs like a rich, unctuous Tahini Bun. Any sentence with the word "bun" is a good one in my book, and this recipe is no exception. If you've never had tahini, the luxurious toasted sesame paste abundant in the Middle East and Turkey, I suggest you get to know a jar. Your spoon and your tummy well be better off for it. When married with a simple oat pita dough and browned golden with a cheerful marigold egg, local sea salt and Turbinado sugar, well it's a game changing kind of moment.

We first tried a version of this sublime layering of wheat, fat, seed, sweet and salt at a perfectly ordinary, unassuming bakery around the corner from our flat in Istanbul. I began a love affair with this explosive, flavorful confection on the spot. And proceeded to purchase one daily for nibbling on during the damp, bone chilling winter we spent there years ago . . . Dave with his pistachio dotted rubbery Turkish delight, me with my pastry situation. Kusmi's Prince Vladimir Tea makes the perfect pairing; it's a French black tea dotted with notes of vanilla and citrus, cinnamon and musky tones. With a splash of heavy cream and a sprinkle of brown sugar, it cuts the richness with more richness! Sometimes more is more. Cold, rainy days of July call for more heat, more uproar, many more splashes of aromatic tea and sinful confections. It's all we can do to not pull our hair from our heads!

Tahini Buns 
The recipe requires a bit of forethought (about 3 hours), but not much and is simple enough. If you've never made bread before, this is an easy start.

makes about 12 buns

For the Pita:
1 packet rapid rise yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast)
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water 2 teaspoons salt (plus more for garnishing)
1 cup oat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour (plus a lot more for dusting)
olive oil for greasing

 For the Tahini Filling:
1 cup roasted tahini
3/4 cup sugar

For the Garnish:
1 egg, beaten well
Sesame seeds
Flake Salt (I used Jacobsen Salt, made locally on the Oregon coast)
Turbinado sugar

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast and water. Mix in the salt and flour and stir for about 7 minutes; the mixture will make a very wet dough. Cover with a cloth towel and let dough rise, for at least 1 hour, up to 3 hours. Divide the dough into twelve small balls, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let rest again for another hour or so (you don't have to be exact).

Preheat oven to 425 °. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Meanwhile stir the tahini and sugar together to create an even paste. Taste and add salt if your tahini is unsalted. On a heavily floured surface, roll each pita out into a small circle, adding a lot of flour to your rolling pin and the counter. It's a very wet dough, so don't worry about adding all that flour to the mixture.

Once you have your small disc of dough, spread about a tablespoon of tahini mixture evenly, leaving about 1 inch of naked pita. Roll into a free form rosette, pinching the dough at the center to form a swirl. Arrange onto the greased baking sheet, leaving a few inches in between each bun (they won't spread very much). Brush the buns with a beaten egg, sprinkle liberally with flake salt, sesame seeds and a little bit of Turbinado sugar. This step will ensure a nice golden flavor and great texture. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, flipping the pans mid way through the cooking time. Tahini buns are ready when very golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes (if you possibly can! they are best warm, but a set up a little from the cooling process) and serve with Prince Vladamir Tea, cream and sugar.

• Visit Kusmi Tea: Kusmi

• Check out Salt made near Portland: Jacobsen Salt


  1. They look absolutely Devine.

  2. I am happy to have found your blog on tea. As I have one as well but not as inviting. Stay blessed!

  3. Hi Leela! Just wondering if it's okay to freeze these before baking... I don't want to make all 12 in one go... If not, I suppose I could halve the recipe...

  4. These look awesome! I'd love to try this recipe, but don't quite follow the directions. How large of a pita are you rolling to dough out to? Gauging from the spoon in the photo, these look quite small -- maybe 3"? After spreading the tahini paste (I assume like I would sauce on a pizza) - how are you shaping the dough into a bun?


  5. This look so interesting! I just wanted to check, when you say 1 c. oat flour 2 cup AP, there are a total of 3 c. of flour, correct? It's not either 1 c. oat flour or 2 c. of AP.

  6. 13 o'clock - good catch !! changed the recipe to reflect 1 c oat flour AND 2 c AP flour.

    1. I did end up making them and I have to say that they are quite delicious :) I was a little worried the sesame filling would be overpowering, but it is a lot more subtle than I thought it would be! My dough wasn't quite as wet as I think it should have been and so I think my crust was a little more crusty than yours appears (next time I will put a little less flour), but the interior is still flaky! Anyway, I think these will make lovely breakfast pastry's as they are somewhat nutritious and not overpoweringly sweet.

  7. I'm having trouble understanding how to achieve the shape of the bun. I would love to try making these. Another question: will processing rolled oats in blender/chopper give me oat flour? Not sure I can find oat flour in Delhi.

  8. I am Prince Vladimir and I approve this recipe!

  9. Leela, I am also confused about shaping these buns. Could you add more photos or specific directions?
    Also, I love Kusmi Prince Vladimir- it's delicious iced and one step further, it makes a fantastic Arne Palmer!


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