Honey's simplicity is appealing to consumers looking for ingredients they recognize.

KANSAS CITY — Honey and malt have been a part of baking for a long time — as in thousands of years. These ingredients have lent their flavor, sweetness and functionality to baked goods for almost as long as humans have been able to harvest and turn them to their own purposes. With today’s consumer obsession with all things natural and a back-to-basics mentality, honey and malt extract fit right into the hottest trends of the day.

While other sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are losing favor in the eyes of consumers, honey and malt extracts have experienced a resurgence in popularity as natural alternatives.

“A lot of sweeteners out there are being scrutinized by consumers and consumer watchdog groups,” said Keith Seiz, ingredient marketing representative for the National Honey Board. “Honey is one of the few all-natural sweeteners that still has a positive perception.”

Not only can these ingredients’ inherent flavor and sweetness enable them to act as alternatives to artificial sweeteners and even refined sugars, but they also bring some functionality benefits.

“Malt extracts can be used in baked products that contain reduced or no added refined sugar to enhance the overall external/internal baked product characteristics while contributing to a unique and desirable flavor profile,” said Paul Bright, innovation manager for AB Mauri North America.

These functions along with the ability to clean up an ingredient list make honey and malt extracts proven sweetener tools in a baker’s toolbox.