While the rest of the country sits in sweltering temperatures, I'm bundling in a cozy down blanket and powder pink bathrobe. The air heady with bubbly yeast, bread, sweetness and alchemy -- all wafting from the oven and kettle. Today is perfectly typical in that Portland, Oregon is settled into the unbelievable monocloud we call "Early Summer". In these parts, we usher sunshine into our lives, open our windows and frolic in berry fields starting July 5th or later. Which brings me to the task at hand: Prince Vladimir Tea and Tahini Buns.
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!
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
Flake Salt (I used Jacobsen Salt, made locally on the Oregon coast)
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