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Oct 9, 2012 01:54 PM

Question re biochemistry of sugar in yeast-raised breads

A friend makes a "honey-wheat" bread that contains yeast, and honey. I did not detect any honey taste in the bread. My recollection is that yeast will start digesting the honey before it digests the wheat--which I suspect means that the honey works mainly to feed the yeast.

Does anyone here have enough knowledge of this stuff to explain it in more depth?

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  1. Yeast ferments sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Honey is mostly sugar. It goes first. The starch in the wheat flour will only ferment after it is depolymerized into simple sugars, a time consuming process compared with using available sugars..

    4 Replies
    1. re: therealdoctorlew

      Thank you. (I was aware of that from my wine-making days. )

      Any guesses as to what might happen if the honey is omitted?

      This is not my recipe; I have suggested to the person who makes this, that he do the obvious experiment.

      1. re: Howard_2

        Based on my dad having been an organic chemist who explained all of this to me decades ago, I'd speculate that the rising time for the dough would be significantly increased and final product would not be a voluminous due to the reduced C02 activity. If you don't wish to use an animal product, you might use agave nectar as a complex sugar substitute.

        1. re: Chefpaulo

          Replace with molassas, however it may be spelled. Or maple syrup.

        2. re: Howard_2

          Just as is the go to place for pizza answers, (IMO) is the place for bread making info, but it's very easy to get "brain overload" at both.

          From my limited knowledge, I would suggest trying make a poolish the night before baking day with about 25% of the flour and all of the water along with the yeast but not the honey.
          This could let the yeast "do its thing" for awhile prior to adding the rest of the flour and the honey on baking day.