homepage logo

Beehive baking

By Staff | Aug 18, 2017

No sugar is needed to make these bodacious brownies. When substituting all or most of the sugar in a recipe, it is recommended to use a mild-flavored honey.


GRIT Magazine

For some folks, giving up sugar is like giving up breathing – it’s just not possible. As Americans, we begin developing our sweet tooth practically from infancy, from sweetened fruit juices to store-bought cookies. But of all the industrial foods out there – modern oils, white flour, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, etc. – sugar may be the most deleterious to our health.

Refined sugar depletes our bodies’ B vitamins, which cannot be stored, so we depend totally on our daily diet to supply them. B vitamins are crucial to neurologic and metabolic function, and they are important for treating depression and protecting the body from cardiovascular diseases.

A diet high in refined sugars promotes bone loss and tooth decay – from the inside out – because it upsets the balance of calcium and phosphorus. Knowing all of that, sugar still isn’t so easy to banish from our diets. Similar to other addictive substances, it’s easier to wean ourselves gradually (start by cutting half the sugar in all recipes) rather than quitting cold turkey. Also, for bakers, sugar is second nature. What about when you want to whip up a batch of cupcakes, cookies or a birthday cake? This is where honey comes into play.

This rhubarb cake recipe made with honey results in a healthful dessert for the family.

Honey is not only more healthful, it imparts a unique, earthy flavor to baked goods that can be altered based on the variety of honey you choose. It can replace sugar in almost any recipe if you follow a few rules: Always reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees; for every cup of honey used, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup; and when modifying or creating your own recipes, remember to add a pinch (up to 1/2 teaspoon) of baking soda to neutralize the acidity of honey (unless the recipe calls for sour cream or sour milk). On average, honey is 1 to 1 1/2 times sweeter (on a dry-weight basis) than sugar.

Since honey varies greatly in flavor and composition, you will experience differences in consistency, flavor, cooking time, and the amounts of other ingredients needed. When substituting all or most of the sugar in a recipe, use a mild-flavored honey (like clover) so it will not overpower other ingredients (unless of course, that’s what you’re going for).

When switching to honey in baked goods, you’ll notice many differences throughout the process: The batter will be thinner; your baked goods will brown more quickly in the oven (this is normal – just watch carefully and make sure they don’t reach the point of no return); and the finished products will be springy and retain freshness for a longer period of time.

Savory bacon muffins

Buckwheat, buttermilk, and bacon make these special. Yields 12 muffins.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup buckwheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup honey

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup minced onion

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12-cup muffin pan; set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make well in center and set aside.

In separate bowl, combine honey, eggs, buttermilk, and butter. Stir in sour cream. Add to flour mixture all at once and stir. Fold in onions and bacon.

Divide batter evenly among cups in prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve with butter and honey.

Light wheat sandwich bread

Yields 1 loaf.

1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 egg

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

In large mixing bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Stir and let stand for about 5 minutes, or until frothy. Add honey, salt, butter and egg, and stir well.

In separate bowl, whisk together flours. Add most of flour mixture to yeast mixture; stir until ball forms.

Turn out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, gradually adding remaining flour until it’s all incorporated. Place dough in oiled bowl (I use walnut oil), turning over once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours.

Turn out dough on floured surface and knead for several minutes. Shape into log and place in greased (or nonstick) 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Press dough evenly into pan, making sure it touches all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Once dough has risen and peaks above the pan, bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 17 to 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 195 degrees. Turn out onto wire rack to cool (at least 1 hour) before slicing. Store in plastic bag.

Rhubarb cake

Yields 6 servings.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup honey

1 egg, beaten

1 cup sour cream

1 cup fresh sliced (1/4 inch thick) rhubarb


1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 8-inch baking dish or casserole; set aside.

In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add honey, egg and sour cream, and stir until just combined. Stir in rhubarb.

Pour batter into prepared dish.

In small bowl, mix together turbinado sugar, cinnamon and butter. Sprinkle over batter in pan, filling in any bare spots with additional turbinado sugar.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely and serve with cream or ice cream.

Apple quick bread

Yields 2 loaves.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup honey

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups peeled and finely diced Granny Smith apples (or other tart apple)

1 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans; set aside.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together milk, honey, eggs and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients until just blended. Stir in apples and pecans.

Divide batter between prepared pans and bake for about 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pans for 15 minutes, then turn out and cool completely on wire rack. Serve with butter and honey, if desired. Store in plastic bag.

Bodacious brownies

Yields 9 brownies.

1/3 cup butter

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 8-by-8-inch baking dish; set aside.

In saucepan, melt butter and chocolate together, or microwave until smooth.

In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Gradually beat in honey. Beat in small amount of chocolate mixture, then gradually beat in remaining chocolate mixture.

Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in coconut and pecans.

Pour batter into prepared dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting.

Beehive cookies

These cookies call for no oil, sugar, butter or white flour – cookie-recipe staples – so the baked cookie has a unique texture. However, they’re delicious and a very respectable “healthy” sweet treat. Yields 3 dozen cookies.

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup honey

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, combine sour cream, honey, eggs and vanilla. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto parchment- lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Excerpted from Grit, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from Grit, please visit www.grit.com, or call 866-803-7096. Copyright 2017 by Ogden Publications Inc.

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page