September 30, 2013

Honeycomb Buns with Caramel Apple filling (Bee’s Hive Buns / Khaliat Nahal)

Here is another bread I made with Aparna and our talented baking group. 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.

We were told to get creative with the filling - sweet or savory. I choose to stuff my soft bread with a simple caramel apple filling to welcome the fall, my favorite season of the year:). Traditionally, the filling used in this bread is a small piece of plain cream cheese but the choice of filling is entirely up to you. 

The dough was easy to make and I used a food processor to knead the dough. After the bread is baked it covered with a sugar syrup/ glaze which is typical of Middle Eastern confectionery.

Recipe adapted from Aparna
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)
40gm (approx 3 Tbsp) butter , melted
2 tbsp milk for brushing the dough
2 tbsp white sesame seeds for sprinkling on top (optional; only for savoury bread)

For the filling
1 cup - Apple, pealed and chopped
18 - Caramel Candy, chopped
1 Tsp - Ground Cinnamon

Sugar Syrup/ Glaze (for sweet bread)
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
A pinch of saffron (optional)
1 tsp lime/ lemon juice

Topping (optional)
1 Tsp - Chia seeds

  • Combine the milk, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and keep for 5 minutes or until its frothy.
  • Melt butter and let it cool.
  • Add 2 cups of the flour, salt, sugar (if making the sweet bread only) and melted butter in the food processor and run it to incorporate the mixture
  • Add yeast-milk mixture 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.
  • While the dough is rising, prepare your filling. Since I used fresh apples for my filling I just prepared the filling when the dough was ready. I cut each caramel candy into 4 pieces and mixed it with chopped apples and cinnamon. roughly divide the filling into 18 portions
  • Turn the dough out onto your oiled work surface. You won’t really need to flour it as the dough is quite manageable. 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 center. Pull up the sides and wrap the dough around the filling, pinching it closed at the top. 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 chia seeds over this.
  • 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 lime/ lemon juice. Mix well and let it cool.
  • 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.
Notes and Tips
  • Here’s a good video to watch in case you think you need it (Click here)
  • 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.
  • You can opt for savory filling like Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese), Spiced Keema(ground meat), veggies of your choice, cheese
  • Use the sesame seed topping for savory bread 
  • When oil my hands while working with the dough to keep my hands mess free 
  • Always check the expiry date on the yeast.
  • Store yeast in refrigerator 

Some other breads I made with this baking group
Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong (Softest White Bread)

Savoury Kugelhopf


  1. Looks awesome Shema...I'm yet to make these...might giv it a try over the weekend hopefully :-)

  2. The buns look awesome. Honeycomb buns have been on my to-do list and these are sure tempting me to bake now :)

  3. Pretty little rolls there. Love love bread. We could finish the whole thing up in a day.
    The sweetened glaze sounds ridiculously good.

  4. the buns looks so additcive... so lovely...

  5. Shema love the flavours in your version of honeycomb, the pics are so pretty and you do have a lovely collection of props ;)

  6. what a yummy filling and love the look of the exterior with the chia seeds

  7. Looks superb Shema..The filling sounds super delcious..Grt job

  8. The rolls looks superb..just like the name it looks like one beautiful honey comb :) and about the filling .. I have nooo words..I am caramel fan..a big fan !

  9. The buns looks so cute and stunning... Love the presentation

  10. The honeycomb buns look pretty :) I loved the texture of this bun, looks soft and moist.

  11. Amazing set of pics. Those buns look so soft!

  12. that looks soo good - and your pic of apples in that basket! thats just to-die-for ! I've wanted to try my hand at buns - I think I'd go savory - except I'll take anything with caramel !

  13. These buns look so fluffy and moist! Wow, I feel like I can easily eat 3-4 buns! Caramel apple filling - that's such a nice treat inside the bread! :)

  14. looks fab dear..would love to try soon..

  15. I would love to start my morning with those buns. The photo of the apples is gorgeous, Shema!

  16. I would love to start my morning with one of those buns. The apples photo is gorgeous, Shema!

  17. Shema,
    This bread looks amazing! This is right up my alley too; bread and caramel = heaven! Thanks so much for stopping by our Spooktacular Halloween link party and sharing this recipe.


  18. Oh they look so fluffy. I feel like having milky honey buns these days, should try your recipe soon. Thanks!

  19. Beautiful recipe and styling -- this reminded me of homemade buns that my mom baked during our childhood :)

  20. Exquisite! Those buns must be extremely addictive. I love the picture of the apples.



  21. Love the autumn take on the traditional! I have eaten the cream cheese ones many times and love them but caramel apples takes them to another level!


  22. I was looking at photo of your Honeycomb Buns on a Facebook and I became hungry immediately, they are so appetizing! Absolutely mouthwatering.
    And second picture from the top is a winner!



  23. looks so much better than store bought, perfect

  24. wonderful clicks and such lovely honeycomb shape of those buns.


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