Today I set out to bake my very first bread equipped with a strong cup of tea and a bar of chocolate. Yes, I was tensed - I had all reasons to be. This is the first time I would be using yeast and these minuscule organisms scared the hell out of me! I have read so many (horror) stories about the 'death' of yeast. For yeast to grow (and the dough to double in size) it needs the perfect environment. The cold weather or too much salt or too much sugar are deterrents to its growth! Talk about high maintenance! So of course I needed both the chocolate & my cuppa to calm my nerves.
It is extremely cold here. We were hit by yet another snowstorm yesterday. Since cold is the 'death' of yeast I took some extra precautions. I cranked up the heat inside the apartment. Following the tips from expert 'Bread-Makers' I heated my oven to 170F, the lowest it can go. Switched it off. And then set off to make my dough. Once the dough was done, I stuck it into the oven for and waited for it to rise, finger-crossed!
I had been eyeing the Honeycomb Bread (the traditional Arabic version is called Khaliat Nahal) ever since I saw it on Aparna's blog. My desires to try making it became stronger after my fellow Kolkata Food Blogger and friend, Amrita who blogs at Sweet 'n' Savoury made a savory version of it. And now that Kolkata Food Bloggers is having the 'Yeasty-Feasty' event, it provided me with the push I needed to bake my very first bread ever! The traditional version has a cream cheese filling and a saffron-infused sugar syrup glaze. My version will have some chocolate as well!
- All Purpose Flour - 1 1/4 Cup + 1/4 Cup
- Milk - 1/2 Cup, lukewarm (or tepid) at about 110F + 1 tbsp for brushing
- Butter - 1 1/2 tbsp, melted and slightly cooled
- Sugar - 1 1/2 tbsp
- Salt - 1/8 tsp (a fat pinch)
- Yeast - 3/4 tsp (I used active dry yeast)
For the filling
- Cream Cheese - 4-5 tbsp at room temperature
- Chocolate Chips - Handful
For the Sugar syrup/glaze
- Sugar - 3 tbsp
- Water - 1/4 Cup
- Saffron - 1 pinch/few strands
- Honey - 1 tsp
In a bowl, mix 1 1/4 Cup of AP Flour, salt and butter. In a cup add the milk, sugar and yeast and let it sit for few minutes. Add the milk mixture to the flour mix. Knead till the dough becomes smooth and soft. I had to use up the remaining 1/4 Cup flour as well to ensure that the dough was not sticky. Roll it into a ball and transferr the dough into a well greased bowl and cover it with a cling wrap or towel. Using a marker I traced out the approximate size & shape of the dough on the cling wrap. This helped me in ensuring that the dough has doubled in size. Stick the dough in the oven or keep it in a warm place covered with a towel for it to rise.
While the dough rests, in a small saucepan bring to a boil all the ingredients of the sugar syrup/glaze and then let it simmer on very low heat till the syrup thickens a bit. Take it off the heat and add a tsp of honey. Stir to incorporate. Set it aside.
It will take about an hour for the dough to rise. Roll out the dough into a rope and divided into equal pieces. I divided it so that I can get about 12 balls. I used 8 balls to make the honeycomb in a well greased 6-inch cake tin and the remaining 4 I baked in a well greased muffin tin.
Keep some chocolate chips and softened cream cheese ready for filling the buns. Using the palm of your hand flatten out the balls. The dough is pretty pliable you will not need to flour your work surface.
Add about 3/4 tsp of cream cheese and few chocolate chips, pull up the sides of the rolled out dough and wrap around the filling, pinching it to close at the top. Using your palms roll out into smooth balls.
Arrange the cream cheese & chocolate filled balls in the 6 inch tin (greased well with oil).
Cover with a damp paper towel and let it rest for another 45 minutes. This is what it will look like after 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Brush the honeycomb with milk and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes till it turned lightly golden brown. The ones in the muffin tin were nice and golden brown in just 20 minutes. Take the pans out of the oven and pour or brush the sugar syrup immediately while the buns are still hot. Let it cool for sometime on a wire rack and serve warm.
I am sending this recipe to Yeasty-Feasty Event of Kolkata Food Bloggers. Food Bloggers from all over the world can join in with their Yeasty Bread recipes. Find more details here!