Baking with Honey

Baking with Honey eCookbook cover

Baking with honey isn’t as scary as you may think! Honey can be used in almost any recipe that uses cane sugar: a little experimenting here and there will help you a long way!

In the early days of my recipe development experience I was nervous about replacing sugar with honey in fear of burning my baked goods. I have found that the recipes that include up to one cup of sugar have no issues when substituting honey with sugar.

When the recipe calls for more sugar than that, I will use up to a cup of honey before balancing out the rest with a sugar-honey mixture. Honey will burn faster than cane sugar, and adds moisture to your recipes. Because of this, you can’t completely substitute replace dry sugar

baking with honey

To ensure success in baking with honey:

Replace equal parts honey for sugar (up to one cup).

Over one cup, replace each cup of sugar with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of honey, leaving some organic sugar in the recipe. In recipes using more than one cup of honey for sugar, reduce liquids by 1/4 cup per cup of honey.

Add a little baking soda when baking with honey

Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of honey if baking soda is not already included in the recipe. This will reduce the acidity of the honey, as well as increase volume.

Oil the measuring cup

If you are using a metal or plastic measuring spoons or glass measuring cups, brushed with flavorless vegetable oil, before filling. The honey will slip right out.

Bake with mild honey

Clover, Blueberry and Sweet Clover are great for baking. The high heat of baking tends to neutralize the distinctive flavor notes in varietal honey, so keep things simple here. We typically recommend lighter honeys for beverages and fresh foods, but sometimes breaking the rules is ok (and tasty!).

Rich deep flavored cake and bread batters (those with chocolate) are an exception. In these recipes try  Buckwheat, Orange Blossom, Wildflower or any strong honey you may have on-hand. Darker honey has a molasses-type flavor, which is perfect for rich recipes.

Save your precious varietal or single-origin honey to use as a finishing touch by drizzling it on warm toast, over ice cream, or on fruit. Varietal honey will have a distinctive taste; use this to your advantage. Some are floral and light, while others are fruity and mellow.

Crystallized Honey

We have also seen crystalized honey work perfectly for baking, but be sure to reconstitute and cool first. You can warm an entire glass jar of honey by removing the lid and allowing to stand in water that was just boiled and removed from heat. If you overheat raw honey, it will destroy the pollen and other natural goodness but the baking will do that anyway.

National Cookie Day set in kitchen with wheat eggs, Waxing Kara raw honey, milk and a burlap sack in the kitchen counter

When baking with honey

The eggs, butter, yogurt, milk, water and other ingredients that are refrigerated should be brought to room temperature first. If these ingredients are used while cold, the batter may curdle or take a lot longer to incorporate. 

To warm eggs, set them in a bowl and cover them with a hot tap water. They will warm-up in about 10 minutes.

Honey is measured by weight

Not by volume. An 11-ounce jar of honey yields a little more than 8 ounces in a measuring cup. Because honey is heavy, it sometimes falls to the bottom of the batter during baking. To avoid this, warm the honey ever low heat until it is thinned but not hot, and thoroughly combine the ingredients by folding from the bottom with a wide spatula.

Drop the temperature

Because batters made with honey tend to brown more readily, some recipes with honey do better at a slightly lower (25° to 50°F) oven temperature. Also, keep an eye on what’s cooking: it might take a little less time when there’s honey involved.

For baked goods like pies, cover the crust with foil to prevent harsh browning. You can remove this during the last minutes of bake time to give a nice color to the crust.

Honey is hygroscopic (takes up and retains moisture)

This keeps breads, cookies, and cakes moist! As a result, you don’t need to add as much liquid to your recipes. Cut down on water and eggs, and your recipes will turn out exactly the same.

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About the Author

kara

Kara waxes about the bees, creates and tests recipes with her friend Joyce, and does her best to share what she’s learned and continues to learn about the bees, honey, ingredients we use and more.

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