If you want to be able to cook sweets without the negative health effects of refined sugar, honey is an excellent option. Among other reasons, honey is metabolized more slowly by your body, meaning that you are less likely to get a sugar “high” after eating something made with honey.
Cooking with honey gives you a never-ending list of possibilities, it enhances browning and crispness — great for glazing roasted and baked foods to promote surface browning, is a flavor enhancer for hot teas and cold beverages, prolongs shelf-life which makes it a natural preservative for pickles and sauces, retains moisture — an essential ingredient for providing the moisture in rich cakes and prolonging the moisture retention and many other practical functions honey could serve.
Baking with honey
Since it has the ability to absorb and retain moisture, honey is used in the industry to keep baked goods moist and fresh. Use honey in baked goods you plan to mail to keep them bakery-fresh. It’s very easy to substitute honey for sugar in your recipes, just follow these simple recommendations:
- As a general guide Honey is up to twice as sweet as table sugar, so you will need to reduce the amount called for in the recipe by one-third to one-half honey for granulated or table sugar.
- Since honey is composed of up to 18% water, it adds liquid to a recipe, so you will need to reduce the liquid called for in baked goods by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used.
- Add about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used to counteract the slight acidity of the honey and help the food rise
- Honey burns more easily that normal sugar therefore, reduce oven temperature by 25°F (15 °C) to prevent over-browning.
Other useful tips
- For easy measuring and clean-up, simply lightly coat the measuring cup or spoon with a vegetable spray before adding honey.
- If you are measuring honey by weight, 1 cup will weigh 12 ounces.
- Honey is also an excellent choice to use in salad dressings, since its emulsifying qualities make it a perfect stabilizer.
- When using honey in jams, jellies or candies, increase the cooking temperature just a bit to allow the extra liquid to evaporate.
- The flavor of honey can sometimes be an issue, but not usually. If you are making a recipe that you don’t want the flavor to be noticeable, there are several things you can try. First of all, get the mildest flavored honey you can. Usually that will be a very pale clover honey. (The paler the honey, the sweeter and milder the flavor, in general.) If necessary, you can use part honey, and part some other sweetener, such as apple juice concentrate, agave nectar, stevia, or even sugar if you have to.