Agave nectar and yeast are a match made in heaven. While the health benefits of agave nectar are highly touted with encouraging words like "organic", "low glycemic", and "pure", the words that sold me were "sweeter than sugar". I wanted to test it in baking as a substitute for honey in a bread recipe. Since I didn't find a local source, I purchased a jar on eBay from Flying Bee Ranch, which is also an excellent source for delicious honeys.
A spoonful of agave nectar reveals a taste somewhat like honey but lighter, with a spicy overtone, and more sweetness than honey. It isn't as sticky or thick as honey, but is more like maple syrup in its consistency.
For my test, I chose a quick dinner roll recipe. The agave nectar mixes quickly with the other liquid ingredients, and if my first try is any indication, it boosts the power of the yeast. The first rising was an incredible 20 minutes to double, and by the time I shaped the last roll, the first one was already rising in bulbous rounds above the pan.
Non-fat yogurt and 1% milk (both from Oklahoma dairies), along with only 2 tablespoons of oil, reduce the fat grams in this recipe, and the end product has a light texture that yields nicely to a generous full-fat application of butter. The agave nectar lends a mild sweetness that contrasts nicely with the slight tang of yogurt.
Agave Nectar Dinner Rolls
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
4-1/2 to 5 cups flour
Mix milk and yogurt and warm in a saucepan to lukewarm. Place in bowl of electric mixer and add yeast, agave nectar, salt, and oil. With paddle attachment, mix until smooth, then start adding flour, a cup at a time, mixing until dough starts to pull away from sides of bowl. Scrape dough from paddle attachment, attach dough hook, and add remaining flour until dough is cohesive. Knead on floured surface until smooth and pliable. Place in greased bowl and let rise until double. Make into favorite roll shapes and place in greased baking pan. Let rolls rise above the pan. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes approximately 12 rolls.