What is something that cakes, cupcakes and cookies share that make them ohhh-so-irresistible? They are all delicious sweetened bites of gastronomic pleasure! So, the common factor is… you guessed it right! SUGAR!
It is one of the most popular kitchen must-haves. This ingredient is essential to our everyday needs. Most of us consume sugar first thing in the morning together with our coffee. A sprinkle of sugar in our salad dressing. A teaspoon or two in our barbecue sauces. A tablespoon in our lemonade. A cup in our cakes.
A high percentage of the food we consume contains sugar, be it sweet or savoury. Even fruits and vegetables which are considered good for our health contain a portion of sugar. Sugar is an important component in cooking, baking and preserving . This ingredient helps not just with the taste but with the consistency, moisture, stability and texture of the food as well.
With how sugar affects our lives everyday, isn’t it time to get to know sugar a bit more? Here are the most common types of sugar that is used for baking, cooking and decorating.
(Incidentally, we have baking and cake decorating classes at The Bailiwick Academy!)
We’ve known sugar all our lives as these white granules that we put in food. By definition sugar is a sweet crystalline substance obtained from various plants specifically sugar cane and sugar beet. It consists essentially of sucrose, and used as a sweetener in food and drink.
But did you know that sugar goes beyond white and brown?
Granulated Sugar/ Table Sugar/ White Sugar
Granulated white sugar is the most commonly known type of sugar. It is the sugar you see in your kitchen. The sugar inside packets they serve with your coffee in coffee shops. This type of sugar is the result of a purifying process that removes a brown syrup called molasses. It also has a neutral taste which makes it a versatile ingredient in cooking and baking.
Light Brown Sugar
Light brown sugar is also one of the most common types. This type of sugar gives you that golden brown color and caramel like flavor. Also, since it has more molasses present than the regular white sugar, it makes baked good really moist and chewy.
Did you know that you can actually make your own brown sugar? Simply mix 1 cup of white sugar and 2 tablespoons of molasses and voila you have your own DIY brown sugar! Easy-peasy isn’t it?
Dark Brown Sugar
Aren’t they the same? Surely, a bit of colour will not affect its properties, or does it?
Well, dark brown sugar consists nearly twice as much molasses compared to light brown sugar
The molasses present in the dark brown sugar is around 6.5%, while light brown sugar has 3.5%.
Using dark brown sugar when the recipe calls for light brown sugar will give your end product a slightly darker color and a more intense flavor.
Confectioners Sugar/ Powdered Sugar
Basically, powdered sugar is just regular white sugar that is ground and sifted to make a smooth powdery texture. Corn starch is then added to the powdered sugar to prevent it from caking.
Confectioner’s sugar is used mainly for frostings but it can be used as a dusting to donuts and bars, fudge, candies or to sweeten whipped cream.
It is also super easy to replicate confectioner’s sugar at home. Just mix 1 cup granulated sugar and blend it with one tablespoon of cornstarch in a food processor.
Minimally processed, cane sugar is produced by sugarcane only. This type of sugar works just like the regular granulated sugar. Also, experts conducted a study regarding cane sugar, and they have found that it is high in polyphenols. It is a potent phytonutrient that has the qualities of antioxidants. Cane sugar is also equipped with vitamins and minerals.
This is also known as superfine sugar. The crystals dissolve much faster than regular sugar because of their fine quality. These are ideal for making meringues and cocktails.
Muscovado sugar is the least processed of all the sugar. The molasses isn’t removed. This type of sugar has a rich complex flavor with a moist sandy texture. Muscovado reminds you of butterscotch. It can be used as a substitute for dark brown sugar. Perfect for a piping hot of coffee, don’t you think?
Turbinado sugar is made from sugarcane and is partially refined. It holds onto some amount of molasses and is formed after the crystals are spun off from the molasses but right before the crystals are bleached and refined. It is characterized by medium brown crystals and has a delicate caramel flavor.
Demerara sugar is among those that are minimally refined, thus, retaining an amber color with a subtle molasses flavor. It is used normally for toppings on baked goods like scones, cookies and muffins.
The liquid sugar or simple syrup is just typically water and white granulated sugar. It has a 1:1 ratio, and in that case, it is not crystallized and melts into a liquid. Usually, simple syrup is incorporated with drinks such as cocktails, tea, or coffee.
Do you notice those pretty sugar granules on top of some baked goods? These are called sanding sugar. It has large crystals and they don’t easily melt. They give extra crunch to cookies and other baked goods. They also come in a myriad of flavors ideal for decorating.
Pearl sugar/ Nib Sugar
Pearl sugar, or sometimes called nib sugar, has a coarse hard texture and opaque in color. Since it can withstand high temperatures it is used to decorate baked goods in Scandinavian cooking.
The Sweet Life
It is unthinkable to live without sugar. Something sweet can brighten your otherwise bleak and dreary day. However, studies show that too much consumption of added sugars can pose serious health risks. So, let us take sugar in moderation.
As with everything in life.
Moderation is key.