Friday, August 14, 2015

Khaliat Al Nahal(Honeycomb Bread)

Ever since I saw a post by my friend and food blogger Saigeetha Pai some months ago showing a lovely home baked stuffed bread that resembled honeycomb or bee hive called 'Khaliat Nahal', I fell for it! Being a lover of bread myself, I wanted to make it sooner, but somehow the thought slipped away into uncertainty due to various reasons.

Then again, recently I was dreaming about making Khaliat Nahal or Khaliat Al Nahal as they call it in Arabic. This bread evidently has Persian roots, and Persians being adept at baking, have made this popular the world over. This energising snack fulfils the urgent hunger supplement with the morning cup of coffee or tea. It has a soft inner with a smooth outer crust which simply melt in the mouth. Right amount of sweetness makes it very tasty. Can be prepared with both sweet/savoury stuffing, and a variety of stuffing can be adapted in this. In short, this is much more tastier than the sweet bun, masala bun or the potato bun I have eaten in Nilgiri's or other bakeries in Bengaluru and Mangaluru. It also reminds me of the famous Paav Bread of Mumbai. 

No sooner I got the urge to bake this lovely bread, I immediately searched for the most authentic recipe, and found the original source which Saigeetha also followed through another blogger friend of hers. That recipe has many takers and all seem to have successfully baked this to perfection following the recipe. I also made 4 tiny paav buns with little extra flour added to the dough. The author has mentioned the steps meticulously and her methods are fail safe. The end result can be very well seen in the pictures. I made the sweet version, have not made any major changes to the original recipe, but I used lesser amount of yeast for making the bread slightly stiff, for stuffing I added tutti fruity, nuts and raisins, while for sugar syrup glaze, I added pineapple syrup also. That made it much more tastier, loaded with exotic flavours.

Thanks to My Diverse Kitchen, the source for this great recipe.


For the dough to make sweet bread:
Lukewarm Milk - 1 cup
Active Dried Yeast - 1 1/2 Tsp
Sugar - 1 Tsp
Refined Flour(Maida) - 2 1/2 cups
Sugar  3 Tbsp
Salt - 1/4 Tsp
Butter - 40gm
Milk - 2 Tbsp for brushing the dough

Variation for savoury bread:
Salt - 3/4 to 1 Tsp
White Sesame Seeds - 2 Tbsp for sprinkling on top

Stuffing options:
1 cup of stuffing (approx) of your choice, either sweet or savoury

Cream Cheese (traditional stuffing), or any other stuffing of your choice like chocolate,  dried fruit like dates, apricots or raisins, chopped nuts, chopped fruit , sweetened coconut stuffing, etc.

I used tutti fruity, raisins, chopped candied cherries, chopped roasted cashewnuts, almonds and pistachios

Cream Cheese or crumbled feta cheese or crumbled paneer/cottage cheese, flavoured according to your choice. You can also use any other savoury stuffing that you want. 

Sugar Syrup/ Glaze:
Sugar - 3/4 cup 
Water - 1/2 cup
Saffron - A pinch
Honey - 1 Tbsp 
Lemon Juice - 1 Tsp 

I added 2 Tbsp of Pineapple syrup I had in stock, and reduced lemon juice to 1/2 Tsp. Also reduced sugar by 1 Tbsp.

Combine milk, sugar and yeast in a glass tumbler/bowl and keep covered for 5-10 minutes to proof.
Melt and allow the butter to cool down completely.
Take salt, sugar (if making the sweet bread) and melted butter in a bowl and beat well. 
Add 2 cups of the flour. 
Mix well using a flat plastic spatula, or with your hand, or with a hand mixer.
Add the active yeast milk mixture and knead until you get a smooth and elastic, but not sticky dough. 
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 added 1/4 cup extra to make paav buns.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well greased bowl, coating completely with the oil. 
Cover and let it double up in volume, in about an hour.
Place the dough on your work surface/Kitchen platform. 
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 into 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 stuffing in the centre. 
Pull up the sides and pinch the dough to close and make a dumpling. 
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 with little gap in between.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about 40 minutes. 
Brush the tops with milk(Milk wash).

Variation for sweet/savoury bread: 
Don't sprinkle sesame seeds over sweet bread, use them only for the savoury one. 
Bake the bread at 180C (350F) for about 25 minutes, when they’re done and a nice golden brown crust develops on top.
Let the savoury bread cool down in the tin for about 5 minutes and then on a wire rack.

When the sweet bread is hot and ready, pour the syrup all over the top of the 'Honeycomb'.  
The bread should be hot and the syrup should be cool. 
If you want your Honeycomb Bread to be less sweet, just brush the syrup over the top.
Let it sit for a while for the syrup/glaze to set a bit. 
Serve them warm with tea/coffee.

Sugar Syrup:
If you’re making the sweet version, make the sugar syrup/glaze during the first 1 hour fermentation stage of the dough. 
Add 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 lemon juice which don't allow the sugar syrup to crystalise(also optional pineapple/raspberry syrup like I added). 
Mix well and let it cool down completely. 
Keep aside until needed.

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