Honeycomb bread (khaliat al nahl) is a popular Arabic bread usually filled with cheese and a sugar syrup. It can also be filled with savory fillings if you choose. The bread looks really nice when finished and it is easier than it looks to prepare. It is important to let the dough rise enough on the final rise so that the bread is very soft.
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup warm milk
2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tbsp. unsweetened yogurt
about 1/2 to 2/3 cup warm water
2 packages kiri cheese or 8 oz. cream cheese cut into 48 pieces
1 tbsp. milk for the wash
sesame seeds/black seeds
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. orange blossom water (or flavoring of your taste)
1. Activate the yeast by adding it to 1/4 cup warm milk. Then add in the sugar, salt, flour, yogurt, egg, butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and water. Add the water in slowly and stop when the dough is smooth but not too sticky to work with. Knead for about 15 minutes until smooth.
2. Let the dough rise for about 1 hour in a warm place. If it is cold in your house, try placing in the oven (not turned on).
3.Grease a 14 inch round baking pan or 2 smaller baking pans if you prefer. Separate the dough into 48 equal sized pieces. I do this by first splitting it into 3 equal pieces then splitting each piece in half to make six, then in half again to make 12, 24, 48 etc.
4. Cut the cheese into 48 pieces also. I used 12 kiri cheeses which I cut each into 4 smaller pieces. Take a piece of the dough and flatten it out. Then place a piece of cheese inside. Pinch it closed with your fingers and roll it into a smooth ball.
5. Place it into the prepared pan. Continue with the rest of the dough until you have finished. You need to leave about 1/2 in. space between the dough balls to allow room for them to rise. Cover and let rise until doubled in size for 1-1.5 hours.
6.Paint the tops of the dough with 1 tbsp. milk. Then sprinkle sesame seeds and black seeds on top. Place in preheated 375 F oven for 20-25 minutes.
7. In the meantime prepare the sugar syrup by heating 2 cups sugar an 1 cup water over medium high heat. Let it boil for 5-10 minutes. Then add 1 tbsp. honey and 1 tbsp. of orange blossom water. (You can also substitute the flavor of your choice)
8. Remove the buns from the oven and pour the sugar syrup on the top.