The journey of these rolls can be traced through Lebanon to Armenia, where kubez el tahineh comes from. They are simple to make, impressive to look at, and loved by all. They’re a particular favourite with kids. Eat them as they are, or sliced and spread with dibs w tahini, the Palestinian equivalent of peanut butter and jam, where creamy tahini is mixed with a little bit of grape or date molasses.
1½ tsp fast-acting dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
7½ tbsp/110ml whole milk, lukewarm
Olive oil, for greasing
2 cups plus 6 tbsp/300g all-purpose flour
5 tbsp/75g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup/100g sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
7 tbsp/120g tahini
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
To make the dough, put the yeast, sugar, and milk into a small bowl. Mix to combine, then set aside for 5 minutes, or until it starts to bubble.
Lightly grease a bowl with olive oil.
Put the flour and ½ tsp of salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed, then slowly pour in the yeast mixture. Add the melted butter and continue to mix for about 1 minute.
Add the egg to the mixer bowl, then increase the speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes, for the dough to get well kneaded. Using your hands, scrape the dough into a ball; it will be slightly sticky and elastic. Place it in the oiled bowl, turning it a couple of times so that the dough gets well greased. Cover the bowl and let rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough is almost doubled in size.
Put the ½ cup/100g sugar and the cinnamon into a small bowl. Mix well to combine, then set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 14 x 20 inches/35 x 50cm. Drizzle the tahini over the dough, then, using the back of a spoon or a spatula, spread it out evenly, leaving ½ inch/1cm clear of tahini at both the shorter ends. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the tahini and let rest for 10 minutes, until the sugar looks all wet.
Starting from one of the long sides, roll the dough inward to form a long, thin sausage. Trim away about ¾ inch/2cm from each end, then slice the dough into 10 equal pieces; they should each be just over 1¾ inches/4.5cm long. Sit each piece upright, so that a cut side is facing upward, then, using your hands, gently flatten it to form a 3¼-inch/8cm-wide circle. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Transfer each roll of dough to the prepared baking sheet, spaced 1 inch/2.5cm apart. Brush the top and sides with the egg yolk, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 18 minutes, or until cooked through and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside for about 20 minutes—you don’t want them to be piping hot—then serve.
These are best eaten fresh on the day of baking but are also fine for up to three days once baked, warmed through in the oven. They also freeze well, after they’ve been baked and left to cool; you can pop them into the oven straight from the freezer until warmed through.
Excerpted from Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley. Copyright © 2020 Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.