In short you can substitute any sugar (such as honey, agave syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.) for table sugar, sucrose, in a recipe however aside from the flavor changes there are a few things to keep in mind.
Complex Sugars Means Slower Rise/Proofing Time
Sucrose found in table sugar is a very simple sugar. This means the yeast can break it down very quickly and use it to make for a quick rise. Honey on the other hand is made up of mostly complex sugars making it a very slow sugar for the yeast to breakdown and use. If you are using honey you will should still use 20% table sugar to ensure a quick rise. That will be more than enough for the yeast to consume and the honey left to flavor the dough. Agave and brown rice syrup have a balance of simple and complex sugars and could be used alone.
Syrups have water to account for
All syrups have to contain more water than table sugar otherwise they would be in a crystalline form. The moisture content of honey is around 15% water with a max of 18%. Other syrups with a similar viscosity are likely to have similar moisture content.
What all this means is if a recipe asks for 10 grams of table sugar and you want to use honey then you would need to multiply the amount of table sugar called for by 15% (.15). That would give you the amount extra then add that to the original amount for the new total amount of honey to use.
20g(table sugar) x .15 = 3 + 20g = 23g of honey to use
This may seem like a small amount but given the lower amount of simple sugars contained in syrup slightly less honey can have more of a compound effect when thinking of food for the yeast as compared to table sugar. It will also change the browning properties of the dough and flexibility of the crust (aka the new york fold)
Relative Sugar Sweetness
Not all sugars are created equal when it comes to the sweetness of them. Fructose has the highest relative sweetness per volume with lactose having the lowest by a substantial amount. If a specific taste in sweetness is important you may have to adjust for that as well, however honey and sucrose are very similar.
Relative Sweetness of Sugars Chart
(higher is sweeter per volume)
Fructose – 173
Sucrose – 100
Honey – 97
Glucose – 74.3
Invert Sugar – 50
Maltose – 32.5
Galactose – 32.1
Lactose – 16
- This reply was modified 6 years, 4 months ago by Brian Y..