The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Adding honey to a recipe

mollieabbs's picture

Adding honey to a recipe

Hello all!

I’m fairly new to making bread but have been able to make a couple loaves a week. Currently I’m working with Ken Forkish’s book, and the ingredients only call for flour, water, salt, and yeast. I’ve tried add-ins multiple times before and they worked wonderful but I cannot find any information for adding honey! 

I’m looking to make a loaf with maybe honey, cinnamon, and raisins. The recipe is an overnight white bread. My problem, however, is honey. I know as sugar it feeds the yeast, and also adds moisture, helps preserve the bread, and gives it a good browned crust, and that too much (over 8% in comparison to flour) will inhibit the yeast. What I can’t figure out if it’s ok to add to the original recipe alone. In all the recipes I’ve looked at and referenced, they all add milk and/or butter, which I know adds moisture for a softer crumb and, again, preserves the bread. So are those ingredients necessary in order to add honey/sugar to bread? Or can I just add honey? I was thinking maybe 1-2 Tablespoons (I’ll have to weigh it out and compare to bakers percentage) per loaf, and adding it during mixing. 

Another thing I heard is that the addition of sugar needs fewer/shorter rises, as to not overferment or add a beery flavor. Has anyone heard anything about that? Does it ring true? 

I might just add the honey to a whole wheat loaf, and then make the cinnamon raisin in another white loaf. But the same question with the honey still stands. 

Thanks!!! I appreciate any feedback :)


tgrayson's picture

Just add some honey. Overproofing is not an issue, unless you're a slave to the clock, rather than watching the bread.

embth's picture

Honey is good in many loaves, especially oatmeal and whole wheat breads.  I use it often in sandwich type breads.  Molasses is nice for rich flavor and dark color.   I have also used date sugar, maple syrup, a bit of applesauce, or boiled cider syrup to sweeten sandwich breads.  A little of orange juice brings a nice flavor to whole wheat bread.  It is amazing how versatile and forgiving bread dough is.

Cinnamon will inhibit yeast a bit, so I make "cinnamon raisin swirl" bread by making a rectangle of the dough, smearing it with butter, cinnamon, sugar and raisins, then rolling it up like a jelly roll before putting it into the loaf pan.   The cinnamon does not go directly into the dough so it has less effect on the yeast.  If your dough is sweet with perhaps an egg or two, and you slice the "cinnamon raisin jelly roll" and set the slices in a 9" X 13" pan, you have cinnamon rolls.

Have fun experimenting and you will find what suits you and your family best.   Happy Baking!  Embth

gary.turner's picture

Honey is about 20% water. Some people make allowances for the water. I find no problem with using up to 10% honey in my formulae. The advantages seem to be a nicer browning of the crust, and likewise for toasting. It is inverted syrup and the fructose and glucose fractions each work to make it hydrophilic. The viscosity also tends to trap and hold water leading to a longer shelf life. I don't think it slows staling but because it keeps the bread moist longer, it fools us.

FYI, honey, corn syrup, molasses and invert syrup scale out to 20g per tablespoon.


Evrenbingol's picture

The honey is usually not more then 5% in most whole wheat. You can only add honey. Butter only adds flavor and tenderizes the crumb. 
I would add water honey and flour and autolyse for 45min -1 hour. If is was sugar I would say do not add the sugar at this stage as it is hydroscopic and would take the water away from the flour but honey is already liquid. 

Usually if you add just sucrose or glucose of some sort, you want to reduce the yeast. but there are very few breads which have sugar and that's it. Usually when there is sugar, there usually butter, egg and milk. (not necessarily all of them). So now yeast is overwhelmed by the richness, so you do not reduce the yeast but increase or maybe use osmotolerant yeast . Also do not forget that you can control the fermentation speed with the water temp if your dough is proofing too fast even if you added too little yeast and you can not cut back the honey cuz you like the flour, put cold water, or ferment it in the fridge. 

When it comes to hydration, you are making your own recipe. I would hold 3-5% water back and when you are done with autolyse or you mix full, feel the dough and add the 3-5% held back water back in. It is really by touch and feel.
But right down your recipes so next time you can adjust if something thing goes wrong. 

macette's picture

I make a raisin bread that we are very happy with, in which I added 1.5 tsp cinnamon which works perfectly it has a great rise makes a nice soft bread and is not a swirl its mixed in with flour. This is a link to the youtube video I just added the cinnamon to it... . It is a yeasted loaf and very nice works every time. I also use honey  instead of sugar in my sandwich loaf one tablespoon, and prefer it , also a water and skim milk mix as the liquid great results also yeasted. I am also pretty new to this so have not ventured into sourdoughs  yeast yet. Good luck...

mollieabbs's picture

Thanks all!!!! Those are helpful hints, and I’ll post how it turns out! I appreciate it!!

FarmerJessie's picture

I'm a fairly new baker myself and I'm curious about using honey in some of my long fermentation breads instead of sugar. I happen to have access to pure, and fresh, raw honey and I'm wanting to use it. Especially after reading so much about its benefits to a loaf!