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Honeycomb (Khaliat Al Nahl) Recipe

posted on: Mar 8, 2022

Honeycomb (Khaliat Al Nahl) Recipe
Photo by Menal Elmaliki

By: Menal Elmaliki / Arab America Contributing Writer

Honeycomb bread or khaliat al nahl in Arabic is a Middle Eastern dessert, especially popular in Yemen. It translates to beehive because the dough is divided into many pieces and connected to look like a honeycomb. It can be described as a fluffy, soft bread filled with cheese and drenched in honey from the mountains of Yemen.

honeycomb | biology | Britannica

This recipe is adapted from Sheba Yemeni food, which can be made in different ways. Some add saffron or orange blossom to the sugar syrup or honey. If you aren’t aware of what orange blossom is, it is water perfumed with a flower extract. It is similar to rose water and is an essential part of Arab, Persian, and Turkish cuisine since it is used in many sweets like baklava, cakes, etc.

Photo by Menal Elmaliki
Photo by Menal Elmaliki


  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt (unsweetened)
  • 1 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp Nigella/ black seeds
  • 1.5- 2 cups honey
  • 1 tsp orange blossom
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup of water

Photo by Menal Elmaliki

Now Lets Roll

Photo by Menal Elmaliki
  1. First, add 2 tsp yeast to 1/4 cup warm milk in a large bowl. Then mix in the sugar, salt, yogurt, butter, egg, and flour. Leave the water for last and be sure not to add it all at once. Add the water in slowly until the dough is smooth and not too sticky.
Photo by Menal Elmaliki

2. Knead the dough for about 15-20 minutes. Afterward, let the dough rise in a warm place for an hour. Be sure to cover the dough with a towel or cling film.

3. Grease a large pan since this makes about 40-48 rolls. I recommend a 14inch or even a 16th-inch pan. Don’t fret if the pan is too small or big. If small, you can bake it in two pans.

Photo by Menal Elmaliki

4. Separate the dough into 4 quarters to easily divide them into 40-48 equal pieces. You can make these small or big just remember that if it’s bigger it cooks longer. Quantity doesn’t matter, as long as these balls of furry are equal in size.

5. It’s time to add the cream cheese. You can also add Syrian cheese or mozzarella but I chose the traditional cream cheese route. Cut the block of cream cheese into little cubes. It’s best to use cold cream cheese, so it’s easier to work with. Now add a cube of cheese in each roll, pinch it closed and roll it into the perfect little smooth circle.

6. Once they are all stuffed, pinched, and rolled, place them in the baking pan with space between these cute little bowls of dough and cheese and set to rest for 1-1.5 hours. Make sure to cover them while they rise.

7. Once they have rested and the dough has risen, connect them thus creating this honeycomb shape.

Photo by Menal Elmaliki

8. Once finished, paint the top with milk and sprinkle them with nigella (black seeds). Sesame seeds are optional.

Photo by Menal Elmaliki

9. Place in a preheated oven, 375 degrees F, and bake for 20-25 minutes until they are toasty, resembling the photo below.

Photo by Menal Elmaliki

10. Once baked, add the honey and orange blossom concoction. Here is where you the BAKER must make a split-second decision! Do you pour your Lil cheesy buns with honey or do you prefer to use simple sugar syrup? If you choose the sugar syrup, I promise I will not judge you *wink wink.*

You Have Chosen Tradition Over Personal Desires

Mix honey with 1 tablespoon of orange blossom and pour over your honeycomb. If you prefer less of an orange blossom taste, you can add 1 teaspoon.

You Have Chosen Death And Abandoned Your Ancestors

Simply heat up 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon or 1 teaspoon orange blossom, and simmer your concoction. Once ready, pour it over your baked honeycomb.

It should have a glistening effect.

Photo by Menal Elmaliki

Here is another version covered with sesame seeds.

Photo by Ayah Alborati

Now enjoy!

!بالهنا والشفا (May it bless and cure)

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