Holidays With Honey – Honey Baked Ham

ham 2

This is one of the most popular recipes on my blog and in my cookbook, Cooking with Honey

It’s perfect for holiday dinners, and your guests will be vying for leftovers.

FYI, Cooking with Honey is still available for holiday delivery for $10 including shipping. Email me at with your orders.



1 fully-cooked shank half ham , bone in (pre-sliced is best)

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1⁄8; teaspoon paprika

1 dash ground ginger

1 dash ground allspice


First you must slice your ham, if it is not already sliced. Use a very sharp knife to cut the ham into very thin slices around the bone.

Do not cut all the way to the bone or the meat may not hold together properly as it is being glazed. You want the slices to be quite thin, but not so thin that they begin to fall apart of off the bone.

You may wish to turn the ham onto its flat end and cut around it starting at the bottom. You can then spin the ham as you slice around and work your way up.

Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl. (I like to make double this recipe for a nice large ham).

Lay down a couple sheets of wax paper onto a flat surface, such as your kitchen counter. Pour the honey/sugar mixture onto the wax paper and spread it around evenly.

Pick up the ham and roll it over the sugar mixture so that it is well coated. Do not coat the flat end of the ham, just the outer surface which you have sliced through.

Turn the ham onto its flat end on a plate. Use a kitchen torch with a medium-size flame to caramelize the sugar.

Wave the torch over the sugar with rapid movements, so that the sugar bubbles and browns, but does not burn. Spin the plate so that you can torch the entire surface of the ham.

Repeat the coating and caramelizing process until the ham has been well-glazed (don’t expect to use all of the sugar mixture).

Serve the ham cold or re-heat.

Feedback From Steve Benbow On My Post…

A lovely man…

Hi Deborah

That’s very funny – did I really use that phrase?! I’m sorry that’s very rude!

Thank you for the book plug and your honey was brill…


Tea With Fortnum’s Beemaster Steve Benbow

Over the past few days I’ve had the opportunity to chat with some of the best beekeepers in the UK about their craft.  Now I face the daunting task of writing about them.

Last Friday after my tour of Fortnum’s hives I was thrilled to be taken to tea by Steve Benbow, urban beekeeper, successful entrepreneur, and Fortnum’s Beemaster, to discuss urban beekeeping.

Steve has a long history of urban beekeeping. Fifteen years ago he decided he wanted to keep bees in Central London. There was only one problem: he lived on the sixth story of an ex-council block near Tower Bridge with no garden. The only outside space was the building’s flat roof, accessible via a fire escape. Having located his first hive behind the lift shaft, the bees prospered and produced award-winning honey.

Inspired by other urban beekeepers in Paris, Tokyo, Rio and New York, Steve founded the London Honey Company, a business that has grown rapidly and now produces honey for Harrods, Harvey Nichols and The Savoy, as well as several small delicatessens across London. He also services hives for the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern and Tate Britain, as well as a variety of commercial clients, many of whom sell their honey within their stores.

Hives At The Tate Modern

Steve was very forthcoming about his experiences with Fortnum’s bees.  He keeps two varieties, Carniolan bees, which are a little more feisty, and Welsh Black bees, which are quite gentle.  He  likes to keep two different varieties which he believes complement each other.

Fortnum’s was the first London commercial establishment to consider keeping bees in the City.  Steve was contacted by Jonathan Miller, Fortnum’s visionary new products buyer, back in 2004 about the project.

Mr. Miller himself designed the ornate WBC hives.  Installed in 2008, the final design is very much in keeping with the spirit of the facade of the store, with a different theme for each hive, – Roman, Mughal, Chinese and Gothic.

Each six-foot structure has  its own triumphal arch entrance, gold finial beehive pinnacle and is dressed in Fortnum’s signature blue-green eau de nil and gold livery. The roofs are pagoda in style and, when observed as a group, resemble the waves of the ocean.

The unique hives were hand crafted by Welsh carpenter, Kim Farley-Harper, who will be happy to make a bespoke hive for customers.  The only drawback may be the price.  It is reported that Fortnum’s hives cost 1500 £ a piece.

The biggest difficulty Steve first encountered was the public perception that the bees might be a public hazard.  That is no longer the case, and Fortnum’s considers its rooftop beehives to be a success. It is considering keeping other hives elsewhere.

Other challenges Steve has faced have been swarm control and Varroa mites.  Steve treats his hives for Varroa with Oxalic acid, and uses splits to control swarms.  He happily reports that Fortnum’s bees have never swarmed.

Benbow uses a Queen excluder and mouse guards in the winter. He feeds his bees sugar syrup in periods of dearth. He uses some insulation in his hives, but reports that the heat of Fortnum’s buildings prevents the hives from getting too cold in winter.

I asked Steve to comment upon the June 15 London Evening Standard article in which Angela Woods, secretary of the London Bee Keepers Association, was quoted as saying London’s bees are under threat of starvation and disease because of a boom in the number of urban beekeepers.  She stated that there isn’t enough forage in central London, and that bees shouldn’t be kept above two stories high.

Steve’s reaction to the article was a pithy “Bollocks!”

He pointed out that bees have been living in tall trees and other high places for many thousands of years, and that while London could always use more trees and flowers, the primary challenge to urban bees this year has been the inclement weather, not a lack of forage.

It was a fascinating interview, and Mr. Benbow could not have been more cooperative and charming. He even complimented my American-made honey. But I think he was just being nice.  🙂

Steve has a new book out, The Urban Beekeeper, which I’ve read and found delightful.  I urge you all to pick up a copy and find out even more about his busy life and career.

My First Night In The City

I think London needs a proper nickname.  It really doesn’t have one, not like “The Big Apple” or “The Windy City.”

I’m thinking we should give it one!!

And, given London’s plethora of urban beekeepers, I think it should be something bee-related.  Maybe “The Big Hive” or, even better, “The Queen City.”  That one does double duty!!

Just some suggestions..

I’m thrilled to have arrived in London on the day of the Summer Solstice. I didn’t plan it that way, but it was a nice bit of synchronicity.  The sun even cooperated, making the afternoon very pleasant!!

Here is an original cocktail recipe to celebrate!

The Summer Solstice

½ yellow nectarine
1 lemon wedge
1 tangerine wedge
4  mint leaves
½ oz peach liqueur
1 oz. cognac
½ oz honey

Muddle the nectarine, lemon, and tangerine at the bottom of your shaker. Add ice, liqueur, honey, cognac and mint (slap the mint first), then shake. Pour into an old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice.

Tomorrow morning will find me at Fortnum’s, touring the bee hives!  I will report on my visit promptly!!

Questions For Fortnum’s

Here is my list of questions for Fortnum’s about its beautiful rooftop bee hives.  If you have any additional questions, please let me know!

  1. What made you decide to keep bees on the roof of Fortnum’s?  Was it hard to convince people that it was a good idea?  When did you first start thinking about it? When were they installed? Are you planning on having more? Do you consider the bees a success?
  2. Were these hives started from packages or nucs, or were they established colonies when they were installed?
  3. Does Fortnum’s have other hives?  Where are they kept?
  4. How did you come up with the design of the hives?  Who built them? Do they build hives for other people?  Are they WBC hives?  Are the plans available?
  5. I read that Fortnum’s keeps Carniolan bees.  Is that still true?  How did you pick Carniolan bees?  Are these the original bees?  Where do you get your bees?
  6. I know Steve Benbow is your beekeeper.  How did you select him? How often does he visit the hives?  Do any Fortnum’s employees work with the hives as well?
  7. Do you have problems with pests or bee diseases?  Any evidence of CCD?  Do you treat your bees with chemicals?
  8. Specifically, have you had problems with Varroa Mites?  How have you dealt with them?  Do you treat for them in any way?
  9. Do you use any kind of preventive treatments or techniques?
  10. What has been the most unexpected challenge of keeping these bees?  What is the biggest problem?  Biggest success?
  11. Have you had any swarms?  What did you do?
  12. Is wind a problem for these bees?  What is their primary pollen/nectar source?
  13. How do you prepare your hives for winter?  Do you bring them inside?  Do you wrap them? Do you use insulation?  Do you use a mouse guard?  Do you feed them? How much honey do you leave for them?
  14. Do you feed your bees at any time?  What do you feed them and when?
  15. Did you have a spring harvest this year?  How much honey did you harvest? What is your average harvest?  Do you use a Queen excluder?  Are you expecting an autumn harvest?
  16. Do you use the Fortnum’s honey in the preparation of any other food?
  17. What was the inspiration for your honey bottle?
  18. Do you use the beeswax for any Fortnum’s product? What do you do with it?
  19. How often do you replace your combs? What technique do you use?
  20. Have you split or combined any of the hives?
  21. Can anyone tour Fortnum’s hives?
  22. There was an article in the June 15 London Evening Standard in which Angela Woods, secretary of the London Beekeeping Association, was quoted as saying London’s bees are under threat of starvation and disease because of a boom in the number of urban beekeepers.  She stated that there was not enough forage in London’s parks and gardens to sustain the growing number of hives. She blames “celebrity beekeepers” and corporations for the problem.  What is your response to that article?

Have Any Questions About Fortnum’s Bees?

I’m taking a tour of the amazing beehives on the roof of Fortnum & Mason on Friday, June 22.  I’m so excited!

Fortnum’s is also giving me the opportunity to submit questions about their bees in advance of my tour.  I’m going to post the answers along with lots of pictures of the hives themselves.

I want to make sure that I ask all of the questions that you, my gentle readers, would like answered.

So… I’m humbly requesting that you send me your burning questions via comments on this post or via my email,

Remember, there are no silly questions!  There’s only me being too obtuse to think of all the cool things that could be asked!!

Looking forward to receiving all your clever and brilliant inquiries!!