Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Baking properties of honey


Wholemeal Crank
 Share

Recommended Posts

Inspired by the discussion of a Roman recipe for honey cake, I'm toying with the idea of a making a very simple cookie that would be worthy of my beekeeping brother's prize-winning honey. And though I have quite a few recipes that use honey for part of the sweetener, I don't have any that are simple enough--like the honey, egg, flour recipe discussed in that topic--to really show off the flavor of the honey. I'm thinking instead of honey, egg, flour and a custardy or cake-like texture, using just honey, butter, flour, and ending up with a crisper cookie-like texture. This leads to a bunch of questions:

Honey is hygroscopic and not conducive to crisp baked goods. But regular sugar (sucrose) is also hygroscopic, and you can make very crisp baked goods with it. Why is honey so much more hygroscopic than sucrose?

And are there other common baking ingredients that are--making up a word here because I have never heard of a term for this--"anti-hygroscopic" that could be used to counteract this effect? Is there any role for an alternative non-wheat flour (other grain? nut or seed meals?) to slow the sticky softening of honeyed cookies after baking?

More questions: if I recall correctly things made with honey should be baked at lower temperature because it browns and burns more easily than sugar. Again, is this a property of the simpler sugars in honey?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Someone teach me if I'm wrong, but sugar/sucrose is crystal in it's natural state, and always strives to return to that state during or after manipulation. This is why we are taught to use very clean tools and to not stir cooking sugar for use in candy or decorations.

My best guess is that since honey is an invert sugar, or a sugar that is a liquid in it's natural state, it may not be that it is more hygroscopic but that it also strives to return to it's natural state after manipulation.

Theresa :smile:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm, that's a good question.

I think what Theresa says sounds logical - I'm not grounded enough in the scientific side of things to really add much.

One thing that came to mind, though, were Honey Joys... not sure if they're very popular in the U.S, but they're essentially cornflakes bound together with honey and a bit of butter. The honey really comes to the front.

Now I'm not saying you should make them, but perhaps adding something like corn flakes or another textural element to the cookie could add to the crunch factor.

Actually for some reason shortbread just came into my head - a quick google for "honey shortbread" has brought up a bunch of results, so maybe that's a good avenue to pursue... seems pretty classy too :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have two or three cookie recipes made with honey.

This one is excellent and there is a follow-up comment about tweaking it to make it more like the Polish pierniczki and there is a Hungarian version that adds a dollop of raspberry jame (similar to a thumb-print cookie) prior to baking.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/honey-cookies/Detail.aspx

It has a cake-like texture and is perfect with tea, in fact the Hungarian version are called tea cakes.

(I used to have a housekeeper from Hungary who was a mine of information about central EU recipes.)

There are a number of honey lebkucken recipes on the internet but I came across this one last year and prepared a batch.

Note: There is a week delay while the batter is "maturing" before the cookies can be formed and baked.

Unlike the first recipe, these cookies do have brown sugar as well as the honey and the flavorings tend to overwhelm the honey flavor but the cookies are excellent.

http://www.grouprecipes.com/34908/lebkucken-honey-cookies.html

and there is this one.

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/almond_honey_butter_cookies.html

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honey contains some water, about 17%, which is partially why baked goods made with it don't crisp up very well. Most cookie recipes do not contain water, and would not benefit from adding water.

The sugars in honey are very different from table sugar, sucrose. You're dealing with a substance that is about 38% fructose and 31% glucose -very, very similar to high fructose corn syrup, BTW. Fructose is sweeter than sugar but glucose is less sweet. Fructose is a lot more hygroscopic than sugar, it's famous for keeping foods moist, so it is the other anti-crisp culprit.

There are several different powdered honey products on the market designed for use in recipes where water is not desired. One contains some wheat starch, one maltodextrin and one table sugar. I have not used them, so I cannot recommend any of them. You could attempt to dry it yourself, I have never tried this, so I don't know what sort of results you'd see.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I buy honey crystals in the "economy" size from Prepared Pantry because they have free shipping for all orders over $50.00 and I always buy more than that. (Usually a lot more!)

http://www.preparedpantry.com/sugars-sweeteners-honey.aspx

Is is lighter than sugar and takes up more volume if measuring that way so I sometimes have to test a recipe first (usually preparing half a batch of bread dough or cake batter to test) to see if I have to adjust the amount of sweetener.

(They also have molasses crystals which impart a wonderful flavor to baked goods.)

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several posts slipped in while I was working on this one....

I have two or three cookie recipes made with honey.

This one is excellent ....

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/honey-cookies/Detail.aspx

That's quite similar to the roman honey cake. They look delicious, with little to hide the flavor of the honey.

That's my main concern here--to make a very simple cookie that doesn't overwhelm or hide the nuances of the spicy complex honey. Hence the need to think about the textural effects of a large proportion of honey, so that they don't get so soft and sticky in the cookie jar that they collapse in to a heavy solid mass, or get unacceptably scorched in an attempt to cook them into dry crisp cookie-jar separateness.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have two or three honey cookbooks, one is from War Eagle Mills - I can't recall offhand the names of the others, they are all from years ago and are long out of print.

I'll see if I can find them and check the recipes.

I recall one recipe that I made when my kids were still at home that I think was made with raw oat flakes, some finely chopped nuts salt and pepper (I remember the pepper because it was odd) mixed together and formed into little balls and then baked.

They turned out like "lace" cookies and the honey flavor was pronounced. My kids called them "honey crunchies" and liked to make ice cream sandwiches with them - a bit messy but as they did the clean-up, it was okay by me.

I've never seen the recipe anywhere else. I may have it in one of my card files but I have at least a dozen of the little boxes and will have to hunt a bit before I can do a search.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honey contains some water, about 17%, which is partially why baked goods made with it don't crisp up very well. Most cookie recipes do not contain water, and would not benefit from adding water.

I'm not too worried about the water, because I can give them an extended time in the oven at low temperature to dry out.

Fructose is a lot more hygroscopic than sugar, it's famous for keeping foods moist, so it is the other anti-crisp culprit.

Does sound like the key problem I have to work around.

You could attempt to dry it yourself, I have never tried this, so I don't know what sort of results you'd see.

Until I get a few more bottles from this year's harvest, I don't really have enough to experiment with. I'll start with some plain commercial honey, and go from there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I buy honey crystals in the "economy" size from Prepared Pantry because they have free shipping for all orders over $50.00 and I always buy more than that. (Usually a lot more!)

http://www.preparedpantry.com/sugars-sweeteners-honey.aspx

Is is lighter than sugar and takes up more volume if measuring that way so I sometimes have to test a recipe first (usually preparing half a batch of bread dough or cake batter to test) to see if I have to adjust the amount of sweetener.

(They also have molasses crystals which impart a wonderful flavor to baked goods.)

Thanks for sharing this info. I've never heard of honey crystals. I have been doing a lot of cooking with honey lately due to a family member's special diet. In the last week, I've been experimenting with cheesecake, cookies, meringues, and pumpkin pie using honey. I am not a sweets person and don't bake much normally but, if this helps, am willing to keep trying. My two issues are the baked goods staying "sticky/not crispy" and the honey being not complex enough (don't know if that makes sense) but am comparing to brown sugar. I am baking for a person who is on a very low carb diet so I have also been substituting flour with nut flour and coconut flour.

I made a pumpkin pie this week where I carmelized the honey first by bringing to the soft boil stage first. I felt this added a much better flavor and am going to try this with some other baked goods this week. Have not liked the stickiness with the cheesecakes and meringues. I think honey crystals may be my answer. Can i still carmelize them like sugar? As a starting point, should I sub equal to amount of sugar? I have been subbing 3/4 cup honey for 1 c sugar and was still finding it too cloying until I tried carmelizing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Prepared Pantry site suggests using the honey crystals One for One - in volume. As I noted above, the stuff doesn't weigh the same as sugar so you have to adjust recipes that are by weight.

Browse their recipes, they have some good ones and I get the emails from them every week.

This site has a few recipes and says to use the crystals, also 1 : 1 for sugar (at least the sugar cookie recipe is essentially the same as one I make.

http://www.mamahealthy.com/recipes/honey-crystal-cookies

This site has suggestions for substituting regular honey for sugar.

http://www.pickyourown.org/SubstitutingHoneyForSugar.htm

I found an "Oatmeal Lace" cookie recipe that is very near to the one I made.

http://www.rwood.com/Recipes/Oatmeal_Lace_Cookies_Gluten_Free.htm

I am pretty sure that I used barley flour because one of the kids had a mild wheat allergy.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The first honey cookie bakeoff is complete. I decided to go with variations on my simple poppy shortbread, substituting honey for sugar and reducing the quantity, adding a bit of egg to be sure they'd hold together, and omitting the buttermilk to minimize competing flavors, since the whole point of these cookies is to show of the flavor of a particular honey.

I made three small test batches, with slight variations, all starting with the same flour--25% short grain brown rice milled with 75% soft white wheat (upping the percentage of rice flour to increase the crispness). For all flour was whisked with soda and salt, then butter beaten in with the flat paddle on the kitchenaid until completely blended and even small crumbs achieved, then the egg/honey whisked together and mixed in at the end to make a smooth dough (the egg alone wasn't enough to get it to stick together, so a small amount of water was added at the last minute).

version 1

200 grams wheat/rice flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon beaten egg

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon water

version 2

200 grams wheat/rice flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon beaten egg

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon water

version 3

250 grams wheat/rice flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon beaten egg

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons water (needed more for the added flour)

And they were patted out and baked about as the regular recipe, but I changed the oven to 325 for 25 minutes, then 170 degrees with the cookies on cooling racks for another two hours. Also I used a fork to mark the individual cookie wedges to distinguish versions 1, 2, and 3.

The results? three small batches of tasty enough 'shortbread' cookies.

version 3 was too dry

version 2 was delicious, but the honey flavor was a bit less prominent than the butter.

version 1 showed off the honey, was pleasingly buttery nonetheless, and probably is the one to play with further. Time will tell how the crispness holds up but right now they're brilliant for dunking in tea or coffee.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another possible approach: take advantage of the honey's properties, and develop a moist, chewy cookie.

I haven't done this, but I've created cookie recipes that use other hygroscopic or moisture-retaining ingredients. They not only last a long time, but in some cases get better with age (up to a week or so).

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I came across this blog about using honey in baking - she makes a couple of good points, in particular the note about reducing the oven temp. She also notes about adjusting liquids in the recipes.

http://keeperofthehome.wordpress.com/2007/11/06/baking-with-honey/

and this Organic Gardening site notes some of the same tips and one or two additional ones:

http://www.organic-gardening-and-homesteading.com/baking_with_honey.html

I looked through an old listing of my cookbooks and found three - one only noted as Honey, M. Lo Pinto, one listed as W.Virginia honey cookbook and the other Honey, War Eagle grains.

I have yet to find the cookbooks, they are probably in a box as I "reorganized" some of my cookbooks several years ago and haven't been able to find anything since, except by chance. :laugh:

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So Andiesenji -- I'm getting psyched about honey cookie recipes, but I'm not sure what "citron ground fine" is in the Lebkucken Honey Cookie recipe you posted a link to. Any tips? It calls for a pound. They look just like the cookies I always buy from my favorite import food store, which I always wanted to know how to make. --Lizz

Lizz

---

"you miss 100% of the shots you don't take"

-Wayne Gretzky

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another possible approach: take advantage of the honey's properties, and develop a moist, chewy cookie.

I've had poor luck with the kind of soft, moist cookies that usually feature honey. They tend to be fragile in the cookie jar under the weight of those above them.

Plus I just prefer crunchy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So Andiesenji -- I'm getting psyched about honey cookie recipes, but I'm not sure what "citron ground fine" is in the Lebkucken Honey Cookie recipe you posted a link to. Any tips? It calls for a pound. They look just like the cookies I always buy from my favorite import food store, which I always wanted to know how to make. --Lizz

It's the same citron that one uses in fruitcakes, stollen, etc. You don't really need a full pound half that should be enough (one of the 8-oz packages).

You have to put it through a meat grinder or food mill or else chop it extremely fine - it should be almost like a paste. It is there strictly for the flavor.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[You have to put it through a meat grinder or food mill or else chop it extremely fine - it should be almost like a paste. It is there strictly for the flavor.

For fine pieces of dried frut, whirling inthe food procesor with part of the sugar or flour will permit very fine pieces without turning into a gummy mass.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...