This honeycomb bread is one of my favourite pastries that I grew up eating. It's basically soft pillow-y dough balls stuffed with cream cheese, topped with crunchy sesame seeds and nigella seeds and brushed with honey. I make it using a 10 minute dough so its really easy! They don't last very long at my house.
What is honeycomb bread or khaliat nahl?
Honeycomb bread is called "Khaleat Nahl" in Arabic which actually translates to bee's honeycomb. It's very popular in Iraq and a few other middle eastern countries. What I love about it is the fact that you can customize it the way you like! You can stuff it with cream cheese like I did or use different cheeses or different stuffing altogether. You can also play around with the size of the balls as well as the sweetness.
In this recipe I top it with a bit of honey. Some recipes use a simple syrup which you can do if you like it really sweet. I love the subtle sweetness of the honey, plus it's so much quicker and healthier. The one thing I do recommend you don't skip is the sesame seeds and the nigella seeds - they make it so magical!
Oh and yes I use a 10 minute dough for this honeycomb recipe because who is patient enough to wait longer? And this dough is SO good - you're going to have to trust me on this one! I've perfected it for you for ultimate softness.
Ingredients you'll need
Only some common ingredients. For the cream cheese, use whatever brand you love but I recommend getting it in a block form so you can easily cube it and stuff it.
How to make the 10 minute dough
To make the 10 minute dough, start by proofing the yeast in warm water and leave it for a few minutes. Use water from the tap, not boiling water or you'll kill the yeast. Even though we are using instant yeast in this recipe, we still want to do this step to make sure the yeast is working well.
The next step is to mix together 1 cup of the flour, the water and yeast, the sugar, and the yogurt. Mix it using a spoon then cover it and let it stand for 10 minutes. It will then become a little bubble.
After 10 minutes, add the rest of the flour, the oil and the salt and mix it all up with a spoon to bring it together. Then use your hands to knead it for a few minutes. The dough will be very soft and slightly stick in texture. Brush your hands with a bit of oil to make it easier to work with. A sticky dough is an indication of a soft dough which is what we're looking for.
How to make the honeycomb bread
Once the dough is ready, divide it up into equal sized balls. You don't need to be too precise here, but I like to use a scale. My balls were roughly 45g each and they were medium in size. You can go smaller as well, but I would not recommend going any bigger as you risk losing the honeycomb bread shape after they bake.
Flatten each ball with your greased hand, stuff it with a cheese cube, then close it up. Place the stuffed balls in a pan and make sure they're slightly spaced apart as pictured, then brush with egg wash. Sprinkle some sesame seeds and nigella seeds and you're ready to bake at 375F for 25 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, brush them with honey. It's as easy as that!
Watch me make it
Tips on how to make khaliat nahl
- In this recipe, I used cream cheese but you can use any cheese you like - experiment!
- When working with the dough, it will be a bit sticky because we want a soft dough. Simply grease your hands with a bit of oil to make it easier to work with
- To get a nice golden colour, make sure you broil it for a few minutes which will also help toast the seeds on top
- You can adjust the sweetness to your liking by adding more or less honey
Honeycomb bread is actually very freezer friendly. So if you make a large batch, you can freeze them individually wrapped or together (depending on how you plan to eat them) in an airtight freezer bag or container. Simply thaw on the counter or heat them up in the oven.
Other recipes you may like
- Cardamom & Tahini Energy Date Balls
- Za'atar & Feta Cheese Pies
- Healthy Banana Bread
- Date and Walnut Cake
Honeycomb Bread Stuffed with Cheese (Khaliat Nahl)
- 2.5 cups flour divided into 1 cup and 1.5 cups, measured using a spoon and levelled off flat
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon instant yeast see notes
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup olive oil or any other vegetable oil
- 120-150 g cream cheese preferably the block cheese so its easier to cut
- 1 egg whisked at room temperature
- ½ tablespoon sesame seeds
- ½ tablespoon nigella seeds
- ¼ cup honey
- Start by preheating your oven to 375F
- To make the 10 minute dough, mix together the warm water and yeast in a bowl and set aside for 2 minutes to proof
- In a bowl, add 1 cup of the flour (not all of it), the water and yeast mixture, the yogurt, and the sugar. Mix together well, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes
- Meanwhile, cut the cream cheese into cubes. I used about 5-7 grams per dough ball but that is per preference
- After 10 minutes, the mixture will look a bit bubbly. Add to it the rest of the flour (1.5 cups), the olive oil, and the salt and mix well using your spoon to bring the dough together
- Then use your hands to knead the dough for a few minutes and bring it together. It will be a soft dough and slightly sticky (which will give us that fluffy texture) so you can use a bit of oil on your hands to handle it
- Shape the dough into equal sized balls. I weighed out roughly 45g per dough ball using a kitchen scale, but you can eye this - see notes for sizes
- Flatten the dough with your hands and place the cheese cube in the middle, then close up the dough
- Place the stuffed dough balls in a greased and floured pan, ensuring you leave space around them as pictured. They will expand in the oven. I used 2 9-inch pans for 17 balls.
- Brush the balls with the egg wash then sprinkle on the sesame seeds and nigella seeds
- Bake for 25 minutes then broil the top for a few minutes until a deep golden brown
- Brush them with the honey as soon as they're out of the oven and enjoy!
- You can also use active dry yeast in the same way
- 45g is the size of the balls in my photos and they're the biggest I'd recommend you go - they're a good size for one person to have 1-2. You can go smaller to make them more mini as well