Chocolate tahini babka buns


First published in 2021
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Tahini has become one of those ingredients I try to sneak into each and every recipe I can. If I’d let myself, this would be a cookbook entirely devoted to tahini recipes. I’ve also had a love affair with babka for more than a few years, but it wasn’t until I visited Tel Aviv and spent the day with Uri Scheft of Lehamim Bakery that the idea of mashing the two things together came to mind, the tahini adding a nutty, slightly savoury note to the rich chocolate filling we all know and love. On that trip, I ate tahini every single day, and come to think of it, I probably ate babka every day, too!





  • 500g of strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 25g of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 7g of fast-action dried yeast
  • 250ml of whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g of unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced, plus extra for greasing



  • 65g of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
To make the dough, add the flour, sugar, salt and yeast to the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and mix briefly to combine. Add the milk and eggs and knead on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, elastic and pulling away from the sides of the bowl
With the mixer still running, add the butter, a little bit at a time. Once the butter has been worked into the dough, continue kneading for a further 10 minutes or so until the dough is once again pulling away from the sides of the bowl
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days
The next day, lightly grease or line the base of the baking tin with a piece of parchment paper. Make the filling. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water underneath) until melted. Remove from the heat, stir in the brown sugar and tahini, then set aside
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and, working on a lightly floured surface, roll out into a large 50x50cm (20x20in) square. Spread the chocolate tahini mixture evenly over the dough. At this point, the tahini mixture will be loose and glossy, so if you attempt to roll the dough up now it will be very messy, therefore, allow the mixture to sit for a couple of minutes until it goes a little tackier and loses its shine (don’t leave this too long though, because the filling will eventually set, meaning it won’t stick to the dough when it’s rolled). Sprinkle over a little flaked sea salt and roll up the dough into a tight sausage
Cut the sausage into 12 equal-sized slices and place them, cut-side up, into the prepared baking tin. Cover with clingfilm and set aside to prove in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the rolls are touching each other and feel puffy to the touch
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5
Bake the buns for 30–35 minutes, or until golden brown. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Place the sugar and 60ml water in a small saucepan and cook over a low heat just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla
Remove the buns from the oven and pour over the warm syrup. Scatter with sesame seeds and leave to cool
First published in 2021
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