Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spring Is Coming

Well, it feels like spring is coming as the weather hasn't been too chilly, and it actually stays light out past 5pm. But as Trish and I were discussing earlier today, it can still get pretty cold in February!

The good news is that it's warm enough that Trish can enjoy doing woodworking in the garage again, and she's been building some beehives. If you're near the Seattle area and looking for a handmade Warre hive to use this spring, let us know. She's making the hives from pine and finishing them with EcoFin, a soy-based nontoxic stain.

Haven't seen any bees out and about, so it can't really be near spring yet, can it? Has anyone seen a bee lately?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Do You Bake with Honey?

I baked some banana muffins yesterday, and the recipe called for white sugar, but I decided to substitute honey. I've always been a little hesitant about substituting honey for granulated sugar, but why not experiment a little? I referred to Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair in hopes of finding some guidelines, and I was happy to find a list of natural sweeteners and suggestions for using them. As it happens, the edition of this book that Trish has doesn't mention honey, and I'm not sure if Lair mentions it in later editions of the book, but this list of alternative sweeteners on the Bastyr Center's website--inspired by Lair's list--does include honey.

Basically, you just substitute honey one-for-one for the sugar in a recipe and then add a little flour or reduce other liquid content. My recipe called for 1/3 cup white sugar, and I used a little less than 1/3 cup of honey and added a couple extra tablespoons of flour. I used whole wheat pastry flour from Bob's Red Mill--great stuff! The recipe turned out nicely with a subtle honey flavor.

I'm not sure how it goes if you try to sub honey for brown sugar. Has anyone tried? I experimented with date sugar in the past and found it was a good substitute for brown sugar in zucchini bread, but it was not so great for cookies.

I'd also be very curious to hear other thoughts about and experiences with baking with honey and other alternatives to processed sugars if you have a moment to share! :)