This is a secret recipe given to me by my Lebanese friend, Lina; well, now its no longer a secret !!!!!. Lina, if you are reading this…smile please. It turned out so perfect and so delicious that I could’nt resist sharing it with our dear readers. I’ve re-named it “Honeycomb Buns’ because when completed that’s what they resemble. Called “Khaliat Nahal” in Arabic, this is one recipe that all of you have to try as its very simple to do and success is guaranteed if you follow it to the ‘T’. This recipe makes 2 honeycombs using an 8” pan. Dedicating this post to the gals and guy whose birthday falls today ….Renuka (29 July), Janice, Rebecca, Gail, Gwayne and Lancy :-
For the glaze : 2 cups sugar, 1-1/2 cups water, 2 tablespoons honey and a pinch of saffron. Boil sugar, water and saffron together for a few minutes till it is thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and add honey, mix and set aside to cool.
For the buns : 3-1/2 cups flour(maida), 1 cup warmed milk, 2 tablespoons milk powder, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons sugar, 4 tablespoons oil, 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1-1/2 teaspoon yeast, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 packet cream cheese (I used Al Marai cheese triangles) + 1 egg for egg-wash. Soak yeast in slightly warm milk and wait till it bubbles and doubles in size. (this is important – if no bubbles appear then your yeast is not good or the milk was too warm). Sieve the flour, then add milk powder, sugar and salt. Add oil and butter and egg and mix together. Then add warm milk and knead. The more you knead it the more fluffier will be your buns. The dough should be soft and not sticky..make it into a big ball and apply a thin film of oil over it and keep the dough for rising for 1-1/2 hour till it doubles in size. After it has risen, punch it and knead it again.
Then form about 40 small balls out of it. Flatten each ball slightly and add a small piece of cheese and roll it into a small ball again. Complete all 40 balls in similar manner. Grease two 8” pans with butter and arrange the balls in a honeycomb pattern..make sure that they are closely arranged together. Cover the pans and keep aside for about an hour till the balls double in size once again. Beat up the egg and brush the egg-wash all over the arranged balls. Preheat over to 180 deg C and bake for 25-30 minutes till the buns are golden on top. Remove from oven and pour cooled syrup/glaze over the buns; or if you don’t want it too sweet, use a pastry bush and moisten the hot buns till they are glazed all over. You can pull apart each bun separately when serving. Dish out in a serving dish with a little syrup on the side.