If 60-85% is the percentage range for the liquid amount in a bread formula, and 0-10% for the sugar amount, my question would be if you are using honey and molasses in the formula would they be counted towards the liquid portion or the sugar portion?

  • Doesn't sugar traditionally count as a wet ingredient in baking?
    – Katey HW
    Oct 12, 2011 at 13:49
  • @KateyΨ depends cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/564/…
    – rfusca
    Oct 12, 2011 at 15:01
  • @Katey in batters, the order of incorporation matters. There, sugar is added to the "wet" half, because 1) you want to dissolve crystal sugar in a liquid and 2) it gives you more air when creamed with butter or whipped with the eggs. Also notice that "wet" and "liquid" is not the same, also outside of cooking: "dry" cleaning is done with a liquid chemical. When used precisely, "liquid" should be a phase of matter, and "wet" means that the thing is capable of giving off water. But this precision is not usual in recipes.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 12, 2011 at 15:03
  • Conclusion of my previous comment: In baking, "wet" vs. "dry" is not the same as "liquid" vs something else (usually flour, but also some bulking ingredients). The first is about order of mixing, the second is about ratio.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 12, 2011 at 15:07

2 Answers 2


They are definitely counted towards the sugar.

The simple part of the answer is hydration. The primary purpose of the liquid in dough is to hydrate the starch in the flour. Honey and molasses are pure sugars and contain no water. Even though their phase is liquid, they shouldn't be counted as a liquid for making bread. You can't hydrate a starch with sugar.

In fact, the "liquid" part in the bread formula should mean water. There are breads made with liquids other than water (e.g. milk), but these liquids are mostly water with something dissolved in it. A liquid with no water in it doesn't count at all for hydration. This includes honey and oil.

The more complex answer should consider two other effects of liquid in the bread formula. First, there is the dough consistency. Bread is about texture. A liquid dry ingredient will not hydrate the flour, but it will still reduce the viscosity of your dough. Big amounts of it will make a very soft dough which doesn't keep its shape well, has a big oven spring, and in general doesn't behave like classic lean dough. So a recipe containing lots of such an ingredient will still need an adjustment of the amount of hydrating liquid (like water) even though the ingredient (like honey) is considered dry.

The second effect of adding a dry liquid ingredient is that it will make your bread softer. First, you are introducing new molecules into the dough, which keep the gluten strands from finding each other. So you get a less sturdy gluten formation, resulting in a more cakelike bread (yes, cake is cakelike because it has sugar and fat). Also, baked bread loses water over time and gets hard, but sugar binds some of the lost water, and fat prevents the evaporation of the water. A stale enriched (=containing fat and sugar) bread is still stale, but very different in texture from a stale lean bread. So again, you might still want to adjust the amount of hydrating liquid downwards a bit because of this effect your dry ingredient will have on your recipe (or maybe not, if you view the effect as desirable).

  • Thank you so much for your detailed response, I will certainly adjust to that effect. Thank you again Lisa
    – Lisa
    Oct 12, 2011 at 14:50
  • 1
    Honey is a good 17% water. It is very hygroscopic so it will help moisturize otherwise dry bread by pulling moisture from the air. Because of these things it can't always be substituted for sugar without adjusting the water in the recipe. Oct 12, 2011 at 17:03
  • To be clear- I agree with everything else in this answer. Oct 12, 2011 at 17:04
  • 1
    @derobert Not in Europe - there is no "cake flour" here and I can assure you that our cakes are cakelike. We don't get flour graded by gluten content, and some types of wheat popular in North America are not grown here at all. But if you do use cake flour, this is of course a factor which changes texture.
    – rumtscho
    Oct 12, 2011 at 19:39

I accidentally discovered a softer bread by adding honey. I forgot to reduce the water and had to add at least a cup (or so) of flour to stiffen it back up again. I never did get the former feel of the dough (making bread) but it turned out better (and softer) than expected. I still used sugar, but not as much as before. An accidental discovery.

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