I stumbled across the recipe in the wee hours of the morning, and just a few hours later, it was baked and ready! It is called honeycomb (خلايا النحل) because of its resemblance to the little cells of a bee-hive, as well as a tribute to the sugar-honey-saffron glaze it is topped with.
It is surely one of the most delicious Arabic breads I've ever tasted, and has such a light and airy softness to the dough, not unlike a French brioche.
I found success from the first try, and the author has rightfully labeled it as a no-fail recipe.
I feel so lucky to have found this recipe from a really cute blog (FKF) whilst browsing through tumblr.
For the sugar syrup:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp honey
pinch of saffron
For the bread:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. milk powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk, warmed
4 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp melted butter
1½ tsp instant yeast
200g spread cheese (like Kiri)
1 egg for egg wash before baking
To make the syrup:
Boil the sugar, water and saffron together for a few minutes until it is slightly thickened.
Remove from the heat and add the honey. Mix and set aside to cool completely.
To make the bread:
Sift the flour, add milk powder, sugar, and salt.
Then add the oil and butter and the egg, and mix together.
Now dissolve the yeast in the milk by whisking and add.
Start kneading together and gradually add some water a little at a time if the dough is dry.
You might not need it all, so add it sparingly until your dough is nice and soft.
Knead for a good 8-10 minutes. The more you knead it the softer the buns will be.
Touch a bit of oil with your fingertips and apply all over the ball of dough. Cover in a bowl and set aside for 40mins to an hour for it to double in size.
Punch it down, and break off tiny bits of dough.
You should get about 40 tiny pieces out of this.
Take each piece of dough, and stretch it out with your fingers, then add a small piece of cheese in its center. Bring the edges together and form a ball so that the cheese is completely enclosed within the dough. Repeat this with all the dough.
Grease your pan/pans with butter.
Place the balls of dough in a ‘honeycomb’ pattern.
Try to get them close to each other so that there are no or very little spaces in between.
Cover the pan(s) and set aside for a second rise, about half an hour.
Now apply egg wash on the balls, preheat your oven to 350°F and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the bread is nice and golden on top.
Remove from the oven and pour your syrup all over the hot bread.
Remember that the syrup needs to be cool and the bread needs to be steaming hot straight from the oven. Turn it out and place on a rack to cool and for the syrup to glaze slightly.
صحة و عافية