These sweet buns are filled with a turbinado sugar, almond and cinnamon filling and glazed with a honey flavored syrup, typical of Middle Eastern confectionery . Khaliat al Nahal translates as bee’s hive in Arabic which refers to the shape of the cluster of buns baked in a round pan. This is the ninth installment of We Knead to Bake-Khaliat al Nahal, a baking group begun on Facebook nearly one year ago.
My honeycomb buns look a little more rustic than those of my baking buddies. I think I put too much filling for them to be perfectly round. However, when I baked them, I thought the filling was perfect. Traditionally, the filling used the honeycomb buns is a small piece of plain cream cheese. The filling can also be savory as well. Adding herbs, garlic, spring onion to the cream cheese, crumbled feta, or crumbled paneer sounds delicious. I have seen many recipes for the honeycomb buns, but really like Aparna’s adaptation. I used the bread machine to process my dough, but if you want to use Aparna’s method, please refer to the one of the links in this text.
Khaliat al Hahal (Honeycomb Buns)
For the Dough
1 cup lukewarm milk
1-1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar (omit if using bread machine)
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar (for sweet bread)
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt (for savory bread) OR 1/4 teaspoon salt (for sweet bread)
40 grams unsalted butter, melted, cooled
2 tablespoons milk, for brushing the dough
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds for sprinkling on top (optional; only for savory bread)
For the Filling
1 cup of filling (approximately) of your choice, either sweet or savoury
Savoury – cream cheese OR crumbled feta cheese OR crumbled paneer/ cottage cheese, flavoured according to your choice. You can also use any other savoury filling that you want. I used a combination of crumbled paneer, herbs, chilli flakes, a little garlic and chopped spring onion.
Sweet – cream cheese (traditional filling), or any other filing of your choice like chocolate, dried fruit like dates, raisins, chopped nuts, chopped fruit , sweetened coconut filling, etc.
For the Sugar Syrup/Glaze
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
A pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lime/lemon juice
In the pan of a bread machine, add all ingredients (except milk for brushing) according to manufacturer’s instruction. Process on the dough cycle. When cycle has completed, turn the dough out onto your work surface. Cut into 2 halves. With your palms, roll out each half a rope about 9-inches long. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces so you have a total of 18 pieces.
Take each piece and flatten it out a little and place half a teaspoon of filling in the center. Pull up the sides and wrap the dough around the filling, pinching it closed at the top. Smoothen it into a round ball. Place this in a well-greased round 9” cake tin. Repeat with the remaining 17 pieces and the filling. Arrange the filled balls of dough in concentric circles, filling the base of the cake tin.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about 30 to 40 minutes. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle the sesame seeds over this. Don’t use the sesame seeds for sweet bread, only for the savoury one. Bake the buns at 180C (350F) for about 25 minutes, until they’re done and a nice golden brown on top.
Let them cool in the tin for about 5 minutes and then on a wire rack.
If you’re making the sweet version, make the sugar syrup/ glaze during the first rise of the dough. For this put the sugar, water and saffron in a small pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes until it starts thickening a bit. Take it off the heat and add the honey and the lime/ lemon juice. Mix well and let it cool. Keep aside till needed.
When the sweet buns come out of the oven, pour the syrup all over the top of the “Honeycomb”. The bread should be hot and the syrup/ glaze should be cool. If you want your Honeycomb Buns to be less sweet, just brush the syrup/ glaze over the top.
Let it sit for a while for the syrup/ glaze to set a bit. Serve them warm with tea/ coffee.
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