Khaliat al nahl (Honeycomb Buns) is a traditional Yemeni pastry recipe made of sweet, cloud-like balls of dough filled with cream cheese and drenched in honey or sweetened condensed milk before being topped with crunchy white sesame seeds and black nigella seeds. For a sweet breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up, pair these Yemeni honeycomb buns with a strong cup of coffee or a warm cup of tea.
Bites of Heaven
Khaliat al Nahl is sweet bread or buns that entice your eyes, seduce your taste buds, and leave you in a state of wonder and imagination. They are feather-light, soft, tender, and absolutely delectable.
The good news is that they are simple to prepare using ingredients that most people already have in their pantry—nothing out of the ordinary!
And now for the bad news... Once you've put one piece of this sweet bread with cream cheese filling in your mouth, you can't stop eating. They're light, moist, and just sweet enough to satisfy your sugar craving.
Where Did the Honeycomb Buns Get their Name?
These impressive-looking little buns are named after Khaliat al-Nahl, which means "beehive" in Arabic. It is so named because the fluffy buns stuffed with cream cheese and nestled tightly in the pan come out golden with a honeycomb pattern once baked.
The sweetness comes from the honey that is poured over the hot buns. This type of sweet bun is popular in the Arabian Gulf region and some Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Palestine.
Extremely Decadent Yemeni-Honeycomb!
What to Serve with Khaliat Al Nahl?
Yemeni Honeycomb Bread is suitable for serving as an appetizer, snack, breakfast, or light dinner. These sweet buns are also great to serve for suhoor during Ramadan.
If you want to try beehive bread for breakfast, serve it with labneh balls, green or black olives, and a hot cup of tea. Enjoy this authentic Middle Eastern breakfast.
When paired with jam and butter, this sweet treat makes an excellent snack. Try it with cranberry jam, apricot jam, strawberry jam, blueberry jam, and other fruit preserves. The combination is delicious!
So Good, and Surprisingly Easy!
Khaliat Nahal Ingredients
- whole milk, lukewarm
- active dry yeast
- granulated sugar
- all-purpose flour
- unsalted butter, melted
- cream cheese
- whole egg for egg wash
- white sesame seeds
- nigella seeds
- Honey Or sweetened condensed milk
First, add sugar and yeast to the lukewarm milk and set the yeast mixture aside for 10 minutes to activate.
Next, in a large bowl, combine flour, egg, and, melted butter. Add the activated yeast to the flour and mix until all is combined.
Then, knead the bread dough for 5 minutes until a soft dough ball is formed. You can mix the dough with a stand mixer. Just follow the same steps and add the ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
After that, place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and let it rest in a warm place for 45 minutes or until it doubles in size.
So Easy to Make
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Divide the plain cream cheese into equal pieces (about 1 teaspoon each).
After that, divide the risen dough into two dough balls (equal pieces). Place one dough ball on a flat surface. Flatten the round ball and then shape it into equal-sized circles.
Now, place the cream cheese balls in the middle, then close up the dough to form a ball.
Then, place the stuffed dough in a baking dish (an 8-inch round baking dish or round pan).
Brush the small buns with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds or nigella seeds.
After that, bake the stuffed balls for 18–20 minutes at 400 degrees F. Broil on high until golden.
Drizzle beehive sweet buns with honey or sweet condensed milk.
You'll Fall In Love with these Pillow-y Dough Balls
- Chocolate: If you don't like cheese, you can substitute chocolate in the center. Simply cut any good quality chocolate bar into cubes and substitute them. Even Nutella works, but it may be a little messy during the closing process unless you solidify it a little first.
- Cheese: You can use different kinds of cheese like akkawi or mozzarella or a mixture of both.
- Herbs: Add some parsley to the cream cheese for a kick.
- Sugar syrup: Instead of drizzling honey or sweetened condensed milk on top, you can top your beehive comb with sugar syrup.
Fluffy and Melt in Your Mouth Honeycombs
- Fridge: You can store khaliat nahl in the fridge for up to five days.
- Freezing Unbaked: Unbaked khaliat al nahal can be frozen for up to a month. Make sure to wrap it well and not to add the sweetened condensed milk topping. To reheat, defrost on the counter or in the refrigerator overnight, then bake as directed above and top with syrup later.
- Freezing Baked: The baked beehive, minus the egg wash and sweetened condensed milk, can be frozen for up to 3 months if well wrapped and stored in a moisture-tight container. After that, egg wash and bake at 400 F for 20 - 25 minutes, then top with the syrup before serving.
- Reheating: To warm the sweet buns, place them in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- You can make the dough balls larger or smaller.
- Make sure to grease the baking dish so you don't have to wrestle with it later.
- If you're using dry yeast, make sure to activate it first.
- If you want to reduce the sweetness, use less honey, sweetened condensed milk, or simple syrup; or, instead of pouring it on the bee hive buns, brush it on the tops of the bread.
- It's better to refrigerate the cream cheese first so that you can divide it easily.
- You can store beehive bread at room temperature if you plan to eat it on the same day
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Though whole wheat is healthier, it will make the buns dense in texture, and they won't taste as good. If you must use whole wheat, replace half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat; the baking time may be slightly longer, so keep an eye on the buns.
Sure! If you're not a fan of cream cheese, you can use other fillings, such as olives or any other savory filling.
An Irresistible Delight
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khaliat Al Nahl (Honeycomb Bread)
- 1 cup whole milk lukewarm
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 whole egg
- 6 oz cream cheese
- 1 whole egg for egg wash
- 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
- ¼ cup Honey Or sweetened condensed milk
- Add sugar and yeast to the lukewarm milk and set it aside for 10 minutes to activate.
- In a large bowl, add flour, egg, and melted butter. Add activated yeast to the flour and mix until all is combined.
- Knead the dough for 5 minutes until a soft dough ball is formed.
- Cover the dough ball with a clean towel, and let it rest for 45 minutes or until it doubles in size.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Divide the cream cheese evenly into balls ( about 1 teaspoon each).
- Divide the dough into 2 dough balls. Place one dough ball on a flat surface. Flatten the dough ball and then shape it into equal-sized circles.
- Place the cream cheese balls in the middle, then close up the dough to form a ball.
- Place them into a prepared baking dish (8-inch round baking dish).
- Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds or nigella seeds.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes at 400 degrees F. Broil on high until golden.
- Drizzle with honey or sweet condensed milk.