We never met a recipe by food and travel writer Robyn Eckhardt that we haven’t totally loved, so her new cookbook is a much-anticipated treat. Dive head-first into this in-depth study of Turkish cuisine, and find a new favorite way to prepare all kinds of versatile ingredients. These coiled tahini buns are well-worth the labor of love. 

In these lightly sweet bread coils, which are eaten for breakfast or as a snack, with tea, layers of tender buttery dough conceal pockets of rich, nutty sesame paste. My touchstone for this treat has long been the version from Yedi Sekiz Hasan Pasa, a bakery in Besiktas district, on Istanbul’s European side, that dates back to the latter years of the Ottoman Empire. There the pastries are bigger than the palm of my hand and heavy with sesame paste. Veysel Büyüksolak, a young pastry chef at Istanbul’s Nicole restaurant, offered helpful advice when I attempted to replicate the buns at home.

To create the flaky layers, a circle of dough drizzled with tahini is rolled into a rope, which is in turn twisted before being coiled. In Turkey, pastry chefs and home cooks use an oklava, a long, thin rolling pin, to roll and stretch their dough. You can buy an oklava, which is also useful for making plain pastry dough, online, or use a 20-inch piece of wooden dowel or light metal piping instead. For those with little patience for rolling dough, I’ve also included directions for making buns that are smaller, plumper, and less flaky but no less delicious. The dough ropes may leak a bit of tahini when they are stretched, twisted, and coiled. Just wipe the sesame paste from your work space with your finger and smear it over the dough; the oil will leave a desirable sheen on the pastry.

These buns keep for up to 5 days and freeze well. They’re best warm: Wrap in foil and reheat in a 350°F oven.

*To mix bread dough in a stand mixer: Mix the dry ingredients (plus spices, if included) in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the yeast with the water (plus any other liquids, yogurt, and/or eggs, if included) in a separate bowl. Pour the liquids over the dry ingredients.

Attach a dough hook to the machine. Mix on low speed until the dough begins to come together, then increase the speed to medium. Knead the dough until it reaches the consistency described in the recipe (smooth and elastic, or smooth and slightly tacky), 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the recipe. Stop the the machine as needed to scrape the dough from the hook. (If, after 5 minutes of kneading, the dough is still sticking to the bowl, add flour, 1 scant tablespoon at a time, kneading for 30 seconds after each addition, to bring the dough to the proper consistency.) Turn the dough onto a work surface, form it into a ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl.

Reprinted with permission from Istanbul and Beyond