Khaliat Nahal/Honeycomb Bread - Step by Step
This is one of the most delicious Arabic breads ever! Khaliat al Nahal (known by many as Khaliat Nahal) simply means Bee's Hive. This is due to the bread's resemblance to a honeycomb and for the sweet, honey-flavored topping it's glazed with.
It's a 'softer_than_cotton' type of bread, with some cheese filling in every bun, and a sweet glaze on top. I did a lot of experimenting with various different recipes to finally come up with my own master, no-fail recipe.
First prepare the glaze/syrup.
Boil the sugar, water and saffron together for a few minutes until it is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and add the honey. Mix and set aside to cool completely.
For the Bread:
Sieve the flour, then add milk powder, sugar, yeast and salt. Then add the oil and butter and the egg, and mix together. Now add all the milk. Start kneading together and gradually add the water a little at a time. You might not need it all, so add it sparingly until your dough is nice and soft. Knead for a good 8-10 minutes. The more you knead it the softer the buns will be.
Touch a bit of oil with your fingertips and apply all over the ball of dough. Cover in a bowl and set aside for 40mins to an hour for it to double in size.
Punch it down, and break off tiny bits of dough. You should get about 40 tiny pieces out of this. Take each piece of dough, and stretch it out with your fingers, then add a small piece of cheese in its center. Bring the edges together and form a ball so that the cheese is completely enclosed within the dough. Repeat this with all the dough.
Grease your pan/pans with butter. Place the balls of dough in a 'honeycomb' pattern. Try to get them close to each other so that there are no or very little spaces in between.
Cover the pans and set aside for a second rise, about half an hour.
Now apply egg wash on the balls, preheat your oven to 180 C and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the bread is nice and golden on top.
Remove from the oven and pour your syrup all over the hot bread. Remember that the syrup needs to be cool and the bread needs to be steaming hot straight from the oven. Turn it out and place on a rack to cool and for the syrup to glaze slightly.
1. If you want to cut down on the sweetness, use less syrup or instead of pouring it onto the bread, just apply it using a brush on the tops of the bread. :)
2. If you do not like cheese, you can use chocolate instead in the center. Just cut any good quality chocolate bar into cubes and use them instead. Even nutella works but might be a little bit messy during closing it into the dough, unless you solidify it a bit first. ;)
PIC 1: After kneading the dough and letting it rise, shape the tiny balls with bits of cheese in their center as per the recipe. Then place them in a greased pan like so. Try to get them as close to touching as possible.
PIC 2: Let them have a second rise, they will have bulked up slightly after the second rise as you might notice. Apply the egg wash then bake as directed.
PIC 3: This is how they will look after baking. Note how much they have expanded and filled out inside the pan.
PIC 4: Apply the glaze/syrup and let the bread cool slightly on a rack.
FINAL PIC: I've cut into one so you can see the cheese filling inside. Also note the feathery layered softness of the buns, literally melt_in_your_mouth GOOOD!
Serve and enjoy!