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How to substitute honey for sugar in bread

Substitute honey for sugar in bread and cut the refined white stuff for good. It’s easy! Honey is a healthier swap and can add new flavor to your recipes, but it’s not a simple 1:1 change up. Get the tips to remove refined sugar, choose the right honey and create perfect loaves every time.

What are the health benefits of honey?

Honey is a super saturated sugar solution made of about 17-20% water and a blend of fructose and glucose. We won’t get knee deep in the types of sugar here, but just know honey has about 17 carbohydrates per tablespoon.

Raw honey has trace amounts of 18 different amino acids and various enzymes. It’s also antiviral and naturally antibiotic and makes a great topical treatment for cuts and scrapes.

Is it OK to eat raw honey?

It is safe to consume both raw and pasteurized honey.

Raw honey contains the pollen, enzymes and micro nutrients that are filtered out and killed with heat during the pasteurization process. There is a small risk of botulism from eating raw honey–but you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than you do of getting sick.

As a general rule, raw honey shouldn’t be given to children younger than a year or to those with severely compromised immune systems, just to be safe. I like Beekeeper’s Naturals, Glory Bee or Nature Nate’s if I’m not eating home grown.

Warning: make sure you’re getting pure honey!

Some grocery stores and discount online shops will sell a blend of “honey” that’s mixed with fillers like corn syrup or other liquid sweeteners. Make sure to read the labels and don’t buy the imposters.

Some farmers selling at farmer’s markets have been known to dilute their honey with water or other liquids so make sure you do some homework and feel comfortable with the seller’s answers when buying from local sources you don’t know personally.

Choosing the right honey for flavor

Honey’s flavor varies widely depending on what the bees eat. The honey you buy can be very bold and strong–almost acidic–or mild and floral.

I once used a floral version in homemade ice cream and it tasted like we were sucking on flowers. Use bold flavored honey only when the other ingredients can stand up to it: Like in a marinade, or when adding just a bit to hot tea for a flavor boost.

A mild flavor would be delicious in these buttery crescent rolls.

Flavors from bold to mild

Try these flavors that range from the most bold to the most mild. Many of these will be special order or locally raised and won’t be found in your local grocery stores.

  • Sourwood
  • Buckwheat
  • Coffee
  • Fireweed
  • Tupelo
  • Wildflower (easy to find in stores)
  • Clover (easy to find in stores)

Feel free to search around the internet, local shops or your farmer’s market to find new flavors. As a whole, the darker it is, the stronger the flavor so choose yours accordingly.

Stronger flavored honeys do well when used in small amounts. If you need to use a lot of honey in a recipe, choose a lighter flavor so it doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.

Fundamentals of using honey instead of sugar

  • Honey is sweeter than sugar, so use 1/4 less. If the recipe calls for a cup of sugar, use 3/4 cup of honey. Some people say it’s fine to do a 1:1 substitution and in small amounts (like a teaspoon or two) you can probably get away with it.
  • Reduce the other liquids in the recipe by 1/4. Remember that honey is about 20% water, so you’ll need to reduce other liquids to keep the texture of the bread about the same.
  • Add a 1/4 tsp baking soda to every cup of honey. Don’t bother doing this for small amounts. But if you are making a recipe that uses large amounts of honey, the baking soda helps correct the acidity.
  • Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees and be prepared to tent with foil. Honey browns baked goods more quickly than table sugar. Reduce heat and cover with foil to prevent burning if needed.
  • Remember honey weighs more than sugar. If you are weighing ingredients for bread, you’ll use less honey than the recipe calls for in sugar. Because of the extra sweetness honey has over sugar, this usually works out okay to just weigh the recipe’s stated amount.

Honey sweetened bread recipes to try

You can substitute honey for sugar in bread recipes of your own, or try some of these delicious ideas:

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