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Using Honey instead of Sugar

I have a sesame seed cake recipe that calls for 1 cup sugar. I'd like to substitute honey or at least add some honey to the cake to have that sesame-honey combo. How can I do that without compromising quality of cake? Also, I don't have 8-inch cake pans. Will I screw up the cake if I use 9-inch cake pans?

Ingredients: 1.5 cups AP flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 large eggs, at room temp, 2.5 teaspoons Asian or toasted sesame oil, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temp, 1/4 cup toasted black or natural sesame seeds

Equipment: 8-inch round cake pan. Synopsis: Dry ingredients are mixed. Butter is creamed. Eggs mixed briefly with sesame oil and vanilla. Add dry to wet, alternate with buttermilk. Bake at 350 F for 35-40 min. Cool in pan for 10 min. Invert. 


  • Hi Jennifer - This cake sounds fantastic and I agree the sesame-honey combo could be great. I always say that, when it comes to baking, it's hard to make alterations that are guaranteed to work the first time. Since baking is a science you always have to assume that you may have to work with the recipe and make tweaks to get what you want. That being said, when substituting honey for sugar you need to account for their differences: 1.) honey is sweeter than sugar, 2.) honey is a liquid sweetener, 3.) honey browns quicker than sugar, and 4.) honey is more acidic than sugar. To start, I would substitute 3/4 the amount of honey as sugar and reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 3-4 tablespoons (if there is no liquid in the recipe add an additional 3-4 tablespoons of flour). You should be OK baking at 350 degrees but if you find the cake is browning too fast I would move it to a lower rack and reduce the oven temp by 25 degrees (and bake it the next time at the lower temperature the whole time). Finally, I think you should be fine with the amount of leavener here but if you want to substitute honey in other recipes that only call for baking soda I would make sure to add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder to the dry ingredients to account for honey's acidity. However if you find the rise on this cake isn't what you expected you can try making it the next time with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder instead of 1/4 teaspoon and see if that helps. Which brings us to pan size. You can definitely make the cake in a 9-inch pan rather than the 8-inch pan called for in the recipe. Just know that it make take a bit less time to bake and will yield a slightly shorter cake. Hope this helps! Best, Lynn C.

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