Each varietal of honey has its own unique flavor, color and aroma, all dependent on where honey bees forage for nectar. If you put a hive of honey bees near a field of buckwheat, you’ll get buckwheat honey. Place a hive in a citrus grove and you’ll get orange blossom honey.
This diverse range of honeys gives bakers the ability to express their local terroir through recipe development, or provide a unique flavor component to complement the overall taste of a sweet pastry or hearty loaf.
Sandra Holl was trained in San Francisco at the California Culinary Academy and worked as a baker at the renowned Tartine Bakery. She has contributed to Bon Appetit, been featured on StarChefs.com and was named Pastry Chef of the Year at the 2015 Jean Banchet Awards.
In 2005, Sandra and her husband Mathieu moved to Chicago and started Floriole as a stand in Chicago’s Green City Market. Five years later, they opened Floriole Café & Bakery in the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.
Orange blossom is a popular plant for honey bees, who gather the nectar from the blossoms of orange groves in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. Orange trees bloom in the spring, and the nectar honey bees gather from the treesproduces a white to extra-light amber honey with a pronounced orange aroma. Orange blossom honey has a sweet, fruity taste with incredible floral aromatics. Its delicate flavor makes it versatile in bakery foods recipe development, providing sweetness to artisan breads or complementing fruits or herbs used in pastries and sweet goods.
“I love orange blossom honey’s slightly astringent, floral and orange notes. They really come through in the honey, and it works very nicely in an assortment of bakery foods.”
What is your favorite bakery food you make with orange blossom honey?
“We are using orange blossom honey in a pepita sesame honey bar that we make at the bakery. We spice the bar with a little cardamom and a splash of orange flower water to complement the honey. In this product, the honey pairs perfectly with the other ingredients and reinforces the floral and orange notes from the cardamom and orange flower water.”
Sandra also keeps bees on the rooftop garden of her café and bakery. Sandra’s urban-living bees love foraging close-to-home at her garden and on the diverse nectar sources from trees, gardens and flowers in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.