I'm very curious about Middle Eastern cuisine. Having only visited Oman, Dubai and Jordan I know that there is so much more to explore. The first point for me is always food and when I came across this recipe for Khaliat or Yemen honeycomb bread I knew I had to try it. Balls of sweet dough are filled with cream cheese and sprinkled with seeds before being baked and then drenched in an aromatic orange blossom syrup.
I saw this recipe on Eve's fab blog and I started making it the day that I read it. It's called honeycomb bread because of the appearance of the buns all snuggled together. It also uses one of Yemen's most famous food products: sidr honey, a pure, medicinal honey that is said to be one of the best in the world.
This bread is fantastic straight from the oven. It has a gorgeous light and puffy texture to it and the cream cheese is a gorgeous little surprise in the centre. You can also fill it with other jams or even a savoury filling. I would try that next and perhaps omit the sugar syrup on top as that is gorgeous albeit very sweet.
My friend Nick is also very interested in other cultures. Namely women from other cultures. At a restaurant one night he started chatting to the Maltese Danish waitress. It was a cultural combination that intrigued him greatly. We watched his moves with amusement, trying to stifle giggles and keep a straight face.
"Do you like pastizzis?" he asked her, recalling pretty much the only thing he knows about Malta. She laughed and answered yes that she did indeed enjoy those pastries.
"And do you like Danish pastries?" recalling pretty much everything that he knows about Denmark. She laughed again-the thing about Nick is that he can be very funny and isn't afraid to be the clown.
Trying to impress her he leaned back and stretched. "I love Scandinavian Architecture you know..." he said trying to sound sophisticated and worldly. God forbid if she wanted to engage him in any Scandinavian architecture talk.
"He means Ikea," interjected Michael. Yup you can always rely on friends to keep you in line...
So tell me Dear Reader, is there a culture you are particularly fascinated with? Where is your next holiday away to?
Khaliat Nahal Yemeni Honeycomb Bread
Preparation time: 20 minutes plus 1.5 hours rising time
Cooking time: 25 minutes
- 1.5-2 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1/8 cup warm milk
- 1 tablespoon yogurt
- 1 egg
- 45g/1.6ozs butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 170g/6ozs. cream cheese, cut into 24 cubes
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 tablespoons sesame or poppyseeds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Step 1 - Line the base of a 20cm/8inch round tin and grease the sides. Place 1.5 cups of flour, yeast, sugar in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Whisk the milk, yogurt, egg and butter together and add to the flour mixture and knead for 6-8 minutes until elastic (longer if you are doing this by hand). Shape into a ball and place in a bowl and allow to prove in a warm, draught free area for 1 hour or until double in size.
Step 2 - Knead in the salt and shape into a long log on a floured surface. Cut into 24 even pieces. Roll each piece out into a round and place a cube of cream cheese in the centre. Roll into a ball and repeat for the rest of the dough. Brush with milk and sprinkle seeds on top. You can also cover this and place it in the fridge to bake fresh in the morning if you would like. Allow to rise again for 30 minutes.
Step 3 - Bake for 25 minutes until golden on top. Meanwhile while it is baking, boil the sugar and water in a saucepan for a few minutes until slightly thickened. Add honey and orange blossom water. When the bread has finished baking pour the sugar syrup over the hot rolls and allow to seep in through the sides. Serve warm.