Lenten Cinnamon & Tahini Rolls

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One of the ways to cope with fasting for Lent is snacking and quite often, I’m left with the constant desire for sweets during this challenging time. No dairy, no eggs makes eating desserts almost impossible. Almost.

Enter this easy Lenten treat that’s inspired by the Tahinopites of Cyprus. Close family friend and Cypriot-born Helen Koccoris (nee Iordanou) joined my mother and I in the kitchen to help us re-create this memory from far-far away and long ago when she was a girl in Nicosia.

Mrs. Koccoris remembers being treated to a Tahinopita from one of the food stands in the city. These were offered as quick snacks. a breakfast treat, if you will. Together, Mrs. Koccoris, my mom and I developed this recipe which is inspired by the Tahinopites of Cyprus, right down to the texture and flavour.

The main ingredients of these rolls are flour, tahini (sesame paste) and cinnamon. Obviously sugar is also involved and the very same spices that are often found in Tsoureki, the Greek Easter bread are all present: Mahlepi and Mastic.

I like that Mahlepi and Mastic and included in this recipe. It’s a kind of foreshadowing of the coming Easter feast which includes Tsoureki on the grand table this coming Sunday. To make these Rolls, I recommend preparing the dough the evening before you are going to bake them. Fill and roll them up, cut them into their pinwheel pieces and lay in your deep baking vessels. Thrown them in your oven and allow them to rise overnight.

Wake-up, take them out of the oven and you will see that they have swelled and joined (that’s okay). Pre-heat your oven, and serve with a Greek coffee.

This recipe is dedicated to Mrs. Koccoris’ mother, Antigone Iordanou. A lady who lived a full life and who touched the lives of many people and often referred to my mother as “kori” or daughter. This meant alot to my mother who spent most of her life here in Canada, away from her own mother.

Lenten Cinnamon & Tahini Rolls (Νηστίσιμα σαραγλάκια με κανέλα και ταχίνι)

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 packette of active dry yeast

1/2  cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground Mahlepi

1/2 tsp. ground Mastiha

extra flour for working the dough

1 1/2 cups of tepid water


200 gr. Tahini

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Pre-heated 300F

  1. In a large bowl, add your yeast along with a little sugar and your tepid water. Stir and allow for the yeast to activate for a couple of moments.
  2. Combine all of your dry ingredients in another bowl. Add wet to dry ingredients. Knead with your hands and you should end up with a dough that is not tacky (sticky). Adjust water or flour if the dough is too sticky or too dry.
  3. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm spot in the kitchen for 60-90 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, mix your filling in a bowl with a spatula and set aside.
  5. Turn out your dough and cut in half. Roll out each half into a square/rectangle (approx. 2 X 1 1/2 feet). Divide and spread your tahini filling on the surface of each section of rolled out dough, except for 1 inch of the dough on each side.
  6. Carefully roll up each sheet of dough and using a sharp knife, slice into 1 1/2 inch rolls. Turn each piece onto its open end and place on a deep baking tray that’s been greased/treated with cooking spray.
  7. Allow to rise in your baking tray for 2-3 hours (minimum) or overnight. Your rolls will/should puff/expand and pre=heat oven.
  8. Place in your pre-heated oven (middle rack) 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes and separate and remove from tray and allow to cool on a rack. Serve for breakfast, as a snack or with a Greek coffee.

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© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

© 2010 – 2012,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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31 Comments for “Lenten Cinnamon & Tahini Rolls”


The rolls look tender and delicious, and there’s no butter–amazing! The tahini and spices in the filling sound great. Wish I could I have a couple for breakfast.


Looks delicious!!! I am so making these. And I have a fresh supply of mastic and hahreb I brought from the patrida. Thanks for this recipe =)


I love the idea of tahini in a sweet roll. These look amazing. Oh how I wish that I could have one with a cup of Greek coffee right now!


These are a wonderful tribute to Mrs. Lordanou and mothers in general everywhere Peter. So nice that you wera able to enjoy baking these with your own mom.



I can’t wait to try these! Tahinopitas are a rare treat we only enjoy while in Cyprus.


They look fantastic Peter! They’re great for anytime, not just Lent, as we should all be thinking healthier snacks these days. I made a “tahinopita” in Kalymnian fashion (it’s really just a Lenten cake) the beginning of Lent but never got to take photos cause it was gobbled up so fast. Now I am torn between putting the remaining tahini to use in that cake again … or these rolls!!


Peter – Delicious looking treats here. I just learned yesterday about mahlepi, from Aspassi, after serving my Italian group an Easter bread with eggs braided in. Aspassia told me about a Greek one she makes with mahlepi and promised to make one for us in the next few weeks. I guess that’s the next best thing to having your food!


I’m having a early morning cuppa and this would have been a great addition. Love tahini, but have always just used it in savory dishes, how wrong of me?


tahini and cinnamon rolls what a fantastic pair – most of all i love it the way you wrap them in yeasty goodness!


Peter these must taste and smell very good… to tell you the truth I cannot recall from my mind if I have ever tasted something similar… I think sometime (even in a non fasting period) I will give them a try…!


peter. i’m VERY excited by these, and not simply because cinnamon is involved. they’re entirely unique and appealing on every level–my kind of snack indeed!


Ah, food with a link to family and friends, food with a story to tell. Lovely. And the rolls are amazing and I am trying to figure out how they would taste. They really are too intriguing not to try!


Peter Kαλό Πάσχα, καλή Ανάσταση σου εύχομαι, να περάσεις πολύ όμορφα!
Υγεία και Αγάπη!!


These look great peter. And healthy too, at least healthier than anything containing butter and eggs. I love how you leave them in the oven overnight and bake them the next day. What a great morning treat!


(I tried to comment on this yesterday, but I kept having odd techincal difficulties when posting)

I can just imagine what these would taste and smell like warm out of the oven. Definitely a change from the standard cinnamon roll. Sesame can be very underrated for desserts!


Peter … I have been a bit MIA but it does not mean I have not been lurking and drooling over here! I am just loving these cinnamon buns as I eat my boring bowl of cinnamon oatmeal. Wish you were my neighbor!! :)

Yvonne Lavasidis


Peter – This is a beautiful recipe and a lovely tribute to my mother and grandmother. Reading it brought tears to my eyes. xox