Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Khaliat Nahal / Honeycomb Buns - We Knead to Bake # 9

Recipe Source: Aparna

This month we’re baking bread that can be made sweet or savory. It is easy enough to make and what is unusual is that it is filled and then covered with a sugar syrup/ glaze which is typical of Middle Eastern confectionery. 

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 and glazed with honey flavored syrup, though savory versions are also made. 

This recipe makes 18 small buns, and if you want fewer you can 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.  You can also bake them individually in muffin tins if you prefer, except they would not have their characteristic “honeycomb” pattern.

Traditionally, the filling used in this bread is a small piece of plain cream cheese but here choice of filling is entirely up to you. You can make it sweet or savory.  

Khaliat Nahal (Honeycomb Buns or Bee’s Hive Buns)

For the dough:
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar (for sweet bread)
3/4 to 1 tsp salt (for savoury bread) OR 1/4 tsp salt (for sweet bread)
3 1/2 tbsp(40gm) butter, melted
2 tbsp milk for brushing the dough
2 tbsp 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 savory
Savory - cream cheese OR crumbled feta cheese OR crumbled paneer/ cottage cheese, flavoured according to your choice. You can also use any other savory filling that you want. 
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.
I used Philadelphia milk chocolate cream cheese.

Sugar Syrup/ Glaze:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
A pinch of saffron
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp lime/ lemon juice

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 for mine.

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 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.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Almond Butter

Almonds - 2 - 3 cups, raw or roasted
Cinnamon Powder - 1/2 tsp
Sea Salt - a pinch

Place almonds in the food processor with the "S" blade.
Turn the food processor on and let it run for a minute until it forms fine crumbs.

Add the cinnamon powder and salt.  Continue processing.
After 3-4 minutes of processing they turn clumpy and forms a ball.
Scrape the sides.

Process until they release oil and turn into thick paste.
Continue processing until you get a creamy and spreadable consistency.

It takes about 15 - 20 minutes to get to the creamy stage.
If you are using roasted almonds,  the butter will be dark brown in color.
I used raw almonds.
Store it in a airtight glass container and refrigerate.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Laugenbrezel (German Style Soft Pretzels) - We Knead to Bake # 8

To make soft or hard pretzels was the challenge for last month's We Knead to Bake group.   I choose to make soft pretzels with jalapenos.  

Recipe source:  My Recipes and Aparna
2 1/4 tsp dried active yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup warm milk
3 cups + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
6 cups water
2 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp cornmeal or semolina
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp jalapeno, chopped
Coarse salt


  • In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm milk and allow that to stand for about 5 minute.
  • Add the 3 cups flour, chopped jalapeno and salt to the proofed yeast and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. The dough will feel slightly sticky, so add a bit of flour as and when necessary while kneading. This should take about 8 minutes.
  • Form the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough with oil. Cover and allow the dough to rise for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
  • Deflate the dough, cover and let it rest 5 minutes. Divide dough into 12 equal portions.
  • preheat oven to 425 degree F.
  • Work with one portion at a time and cover remaining dough to prevent it drying. Roll each portion into an 18-inch-long rope with tapered ends. Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4 inches at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle. Fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal. Place pretzels on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise 10 minutes (pretzels will rise only slightly).
  • Put the 6 cups of water and baking soda in a non-aluminum pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer. Gently lower a pretzel into the simmering water. Cook on each side for about 15 seconds. The pretzel will swell/ puff up a bit. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a greased wire rack. This will prevent the pretzel from sticking to the rack. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.  Sprinkle coarse salt over the pretzels.
  • Place the pretzels on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina.  Bake at 425 degree F (220C) for 12 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Serve warm with a dip of your choice or just plain. They’re best eaten fresh, and on the same day. This recipe makes 12 Pretzels.