I've been trying to move away from relying solely on white sugar when I bake, and I have been experimenting with barley malt syrup, brown rice syrup and even date sugar. But I have to say, I always come back to honey.
Because honey is technically sweeter than sugar, less is needed to achieve the same results. It's versatile and is easily adaptable in most baking recipes.
Replacing Sugar with Honey: What Quantity?
A very general rule of thumb for replacing sugar with honey is to decrease the honey by half. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, try it with 1/2 cup of honey. Then generally I'll reduce the oven temperature by about 25 degrees and bake for just a bit longer. Last, since honey is partially water (whereas white sugar isn't considered a liquid), you will also have to adjust the liquids in your recipe by 1/8th. Also, for some recipes, sugar plays a critical role (creaming cookies, for example) so it's never a bad idea to go slow: start with 1/2 honey and 1/2 sugar and take it from there.
Which Honey to Choose?
The flavor of honey depends on the type of flower the bees worked to produce the honey. These could include orange, sage, clover, sunflower, bark, or mixed flower. I've been really enjoying thinking of my end product when selecting a good honey for it.
Some folks believe that the nuances of flavor in honey get lost when mixed into cookie and cake batters. I beg to differ. I think you can definitely tell the difference between a floral honey and a more rigid, bitter honey. My favorite honeys for baking are orange blossom (pleasant and distinctive flavor from citrus), clover (mild, sweet taste that will work in any recipe), goldenrod (light to medium in color, this honey has a little bite and is wonderful in savory baking), and wildflower honeys (with a darker color, the taste varies from year to year based on what is seasonally blooming).
My Honey Hardened: What to Do?
It's easy to re-liquefy crystallized honey by removing the container's lid, and heating it in very hot water. Or, if the container is microwave-safe, heat on high for 15-45 seconds.
What is Your Favorite Honey for Baking?
Related: Honey Laundering: How to Avoid Buying Contaminated Honey
(Image: Megan Gordon)