Honeycomb bread or Khaliat Nahal (translates as Bee’s Hive in Arabic). They are soft tender buttery rolls filled with a small block of cream cheese and called honeycomb bread because the buns are set in honeycomb pattern and baked. A sugar-honey syrup along with a hint of orange, not too over powering, is poured over after they are freshly baked.
The bread is great for breakfast, evening snack and as a dessert too. I baked a large batch the previous evening and kept them covered, they were soft, had absorbed all the syrup and was filled with flavor the next day. It is a wonderful bake ahead recipe. If made ahead, warm in oven for couple of minutes, microwaving is not advised to re-heat bread.
Preparation time: From start to finish, 2 hours and 30 minutes
Ingredients you’ll need:
1/4 cup Warm milk (warm enough to handle)
2 tsp or 1 pack of active dry Yeast
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Salt
3 and 1/2 cup Bread flour
6 tbsp Butter at room temperature
2 tbsp Yogurt
1/2 to 2/3 cup Warm Water
8 oz cream cheese
1 tbsp Milk (for brushing over the bread)
1 tbsp Sesame seeds
For Sugar Syrup
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Water
1 tbsp Honey/Agave
1 tsp Orange extract
Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, Combine warm milk, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix until the yeast dissolves. Next add the flour, butter, egg and yogurt to the milk-yeast-sugar mixture and mix well.
Step 2: Begin kneading with warm water, little at a time, I used 1/2 to 2/3 cup of water. Add less or little more until it shapes to a soft, non sticky dough. Knead the dough for 10 – 15 minutes.
Step 3: Cover and let the dough rise for an hour in warm place. The dough will double in size.
Step 4: Grease a large pan with butter or use a butter spray and set aside. Cut cream cheese in 48 equal parts (or according to the number of rolls you’ll be making)
Step 5: Gently knock down the dough in a floured surface.
Step 6: Divide the dough into 48 equal parts. (First, I divided the dough into 4 quarters. Cut each quarter into 2, there were 8 equal pieces, each part was cut into 6 equal pieces and at the end, there were 48 rolls)
Step 7: Flatten a ball of dough, add a cube of cream cheese and fold over the ends, pinch them together with your fingers. Roll over in your palm and make into a ball. Place it in greased pan.
Step 8: Arrange the filled rolls in a honeycomb pattern and brush over 1 tbsp of milk and sprinkle sesame seeds. Let it rise for 30 minutes or until the rolls have doubled in size.
Step 9: Preheat the oven at 375 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Step 10: Sugar Syrup, In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Add honey and orange extract and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 11: Once the bread is baked to golden brown and out of oven, pour the sugar mixture over the bread.
Serve after the syrup is absorbed by the bread.
A close up picture of bread and filling. The bread is soft, buttery and coated with honey & sugar syrup. The cream cheese filled in the bread is yum with the sweet bread.