What is dry honey?

by Laurie Gorton, Baking & Snack
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The viscous nature of regular honey makes its handling in the bakery rather difficult and its scaling less than fully accurate. To overcome these problems, honey is offered to the baker in several physically modified forms in addition to the familiar liquid. Two of the modified products are plastic in consistency and made by (a) whipping reduced-moisture honey at low temperatures to form a “churned” honey and (b) plasticizing honey with invert sugar using a special mixing process. Both products have handling characteristics similar to plastic shortenings.

Early attempts to reduce honeys to free-flowing powders by vacuum drying met with only partial success, mainly because the resulting product was highly hygroscopic. Even brief exposure of the dry crystalline product to the atmosphere caused rapid moisture absorption and hardening into lumps that resisted dispersion.

The problem was solved by a process in which flour or, preferably, starch is added to the honey and the slurry then is dried on a modified double-drum dryer. In this process, the starch takes up the moisture from the honey to become partially gelatinized and then releases it to the atmosphere. The resulting sugar-starch complex consists of 75% sweetener, 23.5% starch and 1.5% moisture. The dry product remains free-flowing on exposure to the atmosphere.

The honey-starch complex possesses the functional properties of regular honey solids and of partially gelatinized starch. This combination accounts for its improving effect on crumb structure, bread yield, flavor and shelf life, which exceeds that obtained by honey alone or by honey and starch when added separately. Dehydrated honey can be used to good advantage in any bakery product in which regular honey has found application, including bread, sweet dough products and cookies.

(From “Baking Science & Technology,” 4th ed., by E.J. Pyler and L.A. Gorton, Sosland Publishing Co. Click here for more details about this two-volume book.)

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