There’s no better smell than fresh, warm bread coming straight out of the oven. It’s a sensory overload in the best way possible — an undeniable smell, soft crust, soft interior and of course great taste. Honey helps to sweeten loaf breads, of course, but its functional properties make the ingredient a must for any bread baker.
Honey’s flavor and aroma complexity are two aspects that separate it as a sweetener from others on the market. The flavor of honey is a balance of multiple carbohydrates and the slight tartness of the acids in the honey. On the sweet side, fructose and glucose account for 85% of the solids in honey, which makes it up to 1.5x sweeter than sugar, so less honey is needed to replace sugar in formulas that may need similar sweetness intensity.
When used in whole grain breads, honey has the ability to mask any bitter or off flavors from the grains used. It also adds a level of familiarity to a product.
Shelf Life Extender
Honey helps extend the shelf life of baked goods, which in particular is important for loaves of bread that need to stay fresh and moist. Honey is a humectant, a substance that prevents moisture transfer in bakery foods. Honey does not give up water easily; in fact, it collects moisture from the atmosphere. When used in bread, honey’s humectant properties helps keep products moister for longer.
The acidity of honey (pH 3.9) helps inhibit molding and staling and promotes crumb softness. Additionally, even better, it eliminates the need for emulsifiers, which can perform the same function, but may not be clean label, which is an ever-popular demand amongst consumers.
Not only do consumers want loaves to taste and feel great, but they also want them to look amazing visually, as well. Honey enhances the Maillard reaction in bakery foods due to its heavy fructose/glucose sugar profile. When baking with honey, loaves may brown quicker than usual, and bakers are advised to either lower oven temperature or reduce baking time.
Let’s take a look at some great looking, smelling and tasting loaves on the supermarket shelves.
La Brea Bakery, Toasted Sunflower Honey Bread
Toasted Sunflower Honey Bread is certified kosher, nutty and contains a golden, crisp crust. The honey wheat taste shines through, with whole toasted sunflower seeds as the finishing touch.
Canyon Bakehouse, Honey Oat Gluten-Free Bread
This 100% Whole Grain Honey Oat Bread by Canyon Bakehouse is gluten-, dairy-, nut-, casein, and soy-free. Each slice is 70 calories, and the bread is certified kosher.
Pepperidge Farm, Honey Wheat Whole Grain Thin Sliced
With only 70 calories per serving, Honey Wheat by Pepperidge farm is made with honey, 100% whole grain flour, and wheat gluten. There are 3 grams of dietary fiber and 6 grams of protein in each thin sliced serving.
Schwebel’s, Hometown Bakery Honey Wheat Bread
The family-owned bakery’s offering contains no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. Honey Wheat is made with honey, wheat gluten, wheat bran, whole rye nuggets and flaxseed.