Beehive Buns

beehive buns
Photo: Bobbi Lin

Khaliyat an-anhel means "beehive" in Arabic and lends its name to this impressive-looking dessert. Once baked, the fluffy buns nestled tightly in the pan resemble bee's honeycomb.


For the Apricot Syrup

  • 2 cups chopped dried apricots, preferably from California

  • ¼ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For the Buns

  • ¾ cup whole milk, heated (100 to 110 degrees)

  • 1 package active-dry yeast (1 ¾ ounces)

  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 2 large egg yolks, plus 1 large egg

  • Nonstick cooking spray

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

  • Zest of 1 orange

  • ½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • ¼ cup finely chopped dried apricots, preferably from California

  • Unsalted butter, for baking dish


  1. Make the apricot syrup: In a medium saucepan, heat apricots along with 5 cups water over medium-high. Gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until apricots have broken down, 25 to 30 minutes. If mixture becomes dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Transfer apricot mixture to the sieve and let stand until cool enough to handle. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. You should have about 3/4 cup. Stir in vanilla seeds and sugar and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.

  2. Make the buns: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine milk and yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Add flour, salt, oil, honey, and egg yolks. With dough hook, mix on low until mixture comes together. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until dough is soft, about 10 minutes.

  3. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Form dough into a ball and transfer to prepared bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

  4. Place cream cheese, orange zest, vanilla seeds, sugar, and apricots in a medium bowl and stir until well incorporated; set filling aside.

  5. Lightly coat a 2-quart shallow baking dish with butter. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and use a sharp knife to cut dough into 30 equal pieces. To prevent dough from drying out as you work, loosely cover with a damp kitchen towel. Working with one piece at a time, stretch into a 2-inch square. Place 1 teaspoon reserved filling in the center and pinch corners to seal. Transfer to prepared baking dish, crimped-side down. Repeat process with remaining dough and filling. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour.

  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush buns with egg wash, then bake until buns are golden brown, about 24 minutes.

  7. Pour warm apricot syrup over buns. Serve warm.

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