Okay, so you’ve decided that you want to switch things up from your regular routine and swap the sugar for some sweet honey. Whether your decision is based on health reasons (baking with honey has numerous benefits over processed sugar) or simply to try something new (raw honey can have great flavor depth depending on where the bees source their pollen), there are a few things you should know before jumping into baking with honey.
Sugar, Ah Honey, Honey
1. Know where your honey comes from!
Did you know that depending on the time of year and the flowers available to the bees, honey can have a really wide range of flavors? Honey in the spring typically has more of a floral base, while honey made in the autumn tends to have a darker and somewhat richer flavor. Feel free to play with the different types because they will add a great depth to your dish. You can try some awesome ones here and here.
2. Crystals are okay
With raw honey, you can expect crystals to form. You don’t really want to bake with these crystals because they can mess with texture, but they won’t harm your dish. Before baking or cooking with raw honey, it’s best to warm it up to melt the crystals. You can do this by putting the honey jar in a dish of hot water and stirring every few minutes, or giving it a go in the microwave. Just make sure to use small increments and stir really well in between each microwave session.
3. Oil is your friend
One of the best things about honey is also its worst: it’s stickiness. So when you’re cooking with honey, don’t be afraid to oil your measuring cup first to help keep your measurements consistent.
4. Watch the ratios
Honey can be tricky to bake and cook with. Because you are switching out a dry ingredient for a wet one, it’s important to make sure that you decrease your wet ingredients by 1/4 c. for every cup of honey you use. If you can’t decrease wet ingredients, like in cookies for example, then add in 2 Tbsp. of flour for every cup of honey that you use. It’s also important to add in 1/2 tsp. of baking soda for every cup of honey because this allows the acidity to be more balanced.
5. Watch your temperature
If you’re adapting a recipe to use honey, it’s a good idea to lower your temperature by 25F so that you don’t overly brown your dish.
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to get baking!
Peanut Butter Honey Cookies
What goes better with peanut butter than jam? Honey of course! These cookies are perfect and full of deep flavor.
- 1 c. peanut butter (or other nut butter)
- 1 c. honey
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 c. whole wheat flour
Begin by heating your oven to 350F and prepping a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Then, in a large mixing bowl, mix together your peanut butter and honey until well combined. Next, stir in the egg and add vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and soda and whisk well. Then you’re going to add in the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until you have a dough. To bake drop the dough by tablespoon fulls onto your prepped baking sheet and use a fork to press them down lightly in the middle. Bake your cookies for about 10 minutes or until they are lightly golden brown. Remember that honey burns quicker than sugar, so keep a close on these. Remove and allow to cool before serving.
Honey Cinnamon Shortbread
This recipe is a great one to test out the flavors of honey! Simple and easy to do, it’s great to modify on a whim.
- 3/4 c. softened butter
- 4 Tbsp. honey
- 1 1/2 c. flour
- 1 pinch baking powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
Begin by heating your oven to 350F and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper. Next, beat your butter and honey together until smooth and creamy. Then mix in your flour, baking powder, and cinnamon a little at a time until you have a smooth dough. If you need to add a little more honey to get your dough working, go for it. When you have a smooth dough, remove from the bowl, form into a rectangle shape, and wrap in saran wrap. Then put the dough in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
When the dough has chilled, remove from the fridge, unwrap, and roll out on a lightly floured surface until you have about 1 cm. thickness. At this point, you have some choices. You can either cut into rectangles, circles, or shapes. When you have cut the dough, place the cookies back on the baking sheet and refrigerate for another twenty minutes before baking for 15-20 minutes. You want a nice golden brown cookie, but not too dark. The cookies will be soft to the touch, but they will set as they cool. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving!
And there you have it, two lovely recipes and a lot of information about how to bake with honey instead of sugar! So next time you’re in the kitchen, don’t be afraid to swap out your granulated sugar for something a little sweeter.