24 settembre 2013

Kahliat Nahal - Honeycomb Buns - We Knead to Bake # 9

la ricetta in italiano qui
in basso le dosi originali in italiano

An easy bread to make for this month's challenge for We Knead to Bake, the baking group of Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen, created with the intent to bake a different bread every month in 2013.

Khaliat al Nahal (also known as Khaliat Nahal) translates as Bee’s Hive in Arabic. This is because the buns are baked close to each other in a round pan where they form a honeycomb like pattern. They’re traditionally made sweet, filled and then glazed with honey flavoured syrup, typical of Middle Eastern confectionery. But savoury versions are also made.
In many Muslim communities, this bread is made during the fasting period of Ramadan. It is served as sweet dish during Iftar, the evening meal that follows breaking the day long fast that is observed during Ramadan. This bread is perfect to serve then because Iftars are community events, and the shape of the bread lends itself to being torn/ pulled apart easily to serve oneself.

honeycomb buns

We have something similar in Italy, named Danubio (Danube, like the famous blue European river) which has originated in Naples. But some argue this bread has Austrian origins, you can have a look at my post and read the long story and decide what tale you like most.

This recipe makes 18 buns, but it's possible to halve the recipe to make about 9 or 10 buns. 
For half the recipe, use a 6” or 7” round cake tin to bake the Honeycomb Bread.  
Or you can decide to go for the entire recipe but making two different bread; one savoury and one sweet.
You can also bake them individually in muffin tins if you prefer, they would not have their characteristic honeycomb pattern, but will be nice as placeholders or more practical for a buffet or an aperitif.

In brackets you will find my substitution to make it vegan and healthier.
I went only for a sweet version as I usually bake the savoury one.

 honeycomb buns

Made one entire dough but halved and baked in two different tins (one was heart-shaped), and used different fillings: unsugared strawberry jam and almond flour for the round cake, homemade hazelnut and chocolate cream (the recipe in a few days, stay tuned :-) for the heart cake.
My glaze was very basic: just brushed the cakes once out of the oven with malt syrup (at your choice rice, barley or wheat) and sprinkled with almond flakes the round one, spread the heart one with a little melted dark chocolate and drizzled with finely chopped hazelnuts.

honeycomb buns



1 cup lukewarm milk (oat milk)
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar (barley malt)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar, for sweet bread
(3 tbsp unsugared apple juice and 1 tbsp concentrade apple juice)
3/4 to 1 tsp salt (for savoury bread) or 1/4 tsp salt (for sweet bread)
40gm butter, melted (organic sunflower oil)
2 tbsp milk  (oat milk) for brushing the dough
2 tbsp white sesame seeds for sprinkling on top (optional, only for savoury bread)


1 cup of filling (approximately) of your choice, either sweet or savoury

Suggestions for Savoury Filling:
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,
leftover cooked vegetables mixed with cream cheese work super.

Suggestions for Sweet Filling:
 cream cheese (traditional filling), 
or any other filling of your choice like chocolate,   
dried fruit like dates, raisins, chopped nuts, chopped fruit , sweetened coconut filling, etc.

Sugar Syrup/Glaze:

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
a pinch of saffron
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp lime/lemon juice

honeycomb buns
unsugared strawberry jam and almond flour

honeycomb buns
unsugared homemade hazelnut and dark chocolate cream

Make sure your melted butter has cooled down a bit before using it. Put 2 cups of the flour, salt, sugar (if making the sweet bread only) and melted butter in the bowl of your processor. Run a couple of times to mix well.
Combine the milk, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and keep for 5 minutes. Add this to the processor bowl and knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough which is not sticky. Add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour as you need to get this consistency of bread dough. I used all of 2 1/2 cups of flour and had to add half a cup more (as oil and apple juice are liquid).
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning it to coat completely with the oil. Cover and let it rise till double in volume, for about an hour.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface. You won’t really need to flour it as the dough is quite manageable as it is. Cut it into 2 halves. With your palms, roll out each half a “rope” about 9” long. Cut each rope into 1” 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 centre. 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 (or a large bowl upside down) and let it rise for about 30 to 40 minutes. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle the sesame seeds over 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.

Ingredienti impasto:

240 g di latte tiepido
8 g di lievito di birra
1 cucchiaino di zucchero
350/400 g di farina 0
3 cucchiai di zucchero, per il pane dolce
3/4 di cucchiaino di sale (per il pane salato) o un pizzzico di sale (per il pane dolce)
40 g di burro morbido
2 cucchiai di latte per spennellare i panini
2 cucchiai di semi di sesamo (solo per il pane salato)


3 parti di di zucchero e 2 di acqua
pistilli di zafferano
1 cucchiaio di miele
1 cucchiaino di limone/succo di limone

Zucchero, acqua e zafferano in un pentolino e portare ad ebollizione. Abbassare la fiamma e lasciare sobbollire per qualche minuto fino a quando non inizia a addensare. Togliere dal fuoco e aggiungere il miele e il succo di lime/limone. Mescolare bene e lasciare raffreddare.
Quando i panini dolci escono dal forno, versare lo sciroppo sopra tutta la parte superiore del. Il pane deve essere caldo e lo sciroppo freddo. Per un effetto meno dolce, basterà pennellare leggermente i panini con lo sciroppo aromatizzato.

This recipe also goes to Susan's weekly YeastSpotting

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