For some folks, giving up sugar is like giving up breathing – it’s just not possible. As Americans, we begin developing our sweet tooth practically from infancy, from sweetened fruit juices to store-bought cookies. But of all the industrial foods out there – modern oils, white flour, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, etc. – sugar may be the most deleterious to our health. Instead, try these excellent, easy baking-with-honey recipes.
Baking With Honey Recipes:
Apple Quick Bread
Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Light Wheat Sandwich Bread
Savory Bacon Muffins
Refined sugar depletes our bodies’ B vitamins, which cannot be stored, so we depend totally on our daily diet to supply them. B vitamins are crucial to neurologic and metabolic function, and they are important for treating depression and protecting the body from cardiovascular diseases.
A diet high in refined sugars promotes bone loss and tooth decay – from the inside out – because it upsets the balance of calcium and phosphorus. Knowing all of that, sugar still isn’t so easy to banish from our diets. Similar to other addictive substances, it’s easier to wean ourselves gradually (start by cutting in half the sugar in all recipes), rather than quitting cold turkey. Also, for bakers, sugar is second nature. What to do when you want to whip up a batch of cupcakes, cookies or a birthday cake? This is where honey comes into play.
Honey is not only more healthful (see “Wholesome as Honey” on Page 34), it imparts a unique, earthy flavor to baked goods that can be altered based on the variety of honey you choose. It can replace sugar in almost any recipe if you follow a few rules: 1) always reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees; 2) for every cup of honey used, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1⁄4 cup; and 3) when modifying or creating your own recipes, remember to add a pinch (up to 1⁄2 teaspoon) of baking soda to neutralize the acidity of honey (unless the recipe calls for sour cream or sour milk). On average, honey is 1 to 11⁄2 times sweeter (on a dry-weight basis) than sugar.
Since honey varies greatly in flavor and composition, you will experience differences in consistency, flavor, cooking time, and the amounts of other ingredients needed. When substituting all or most of the sugar in a recipe, use a mild-flavored honey (like clover) so it will not overpower other ingredients (unless of course, that’s what you’re going for).
When switching to honey in baked goods, you’ll notice many differences throughout the process: The batter will be thinner; your baked goods will brown more quickly in the oven (this is normal – just watch carefully and make sure they don’t reach the point of no return); and the finished products will be springy and retain freshness for a longer period of time.
Have fun experimenting. And be sure to send us your experiences in written or photographic form at Grit, c/o Jean Teller, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or email us at Grit@Grit.com.