Photo: So Delicious
In your Internet exploration, you might find mentioned plenty of types of sugar. But what do they do and what are they best suited for? Let’s find out right now, in time for making delicious desserts for your winter break.
If we are to at least use sugar in our desserts (and some other dishes, like caramelizing onions, perhaps?), we should at least know how to work with it. That’s why it’s a good idea to find out more about types of sugar. No, they’re not really interchangeable.
The role of sugar in baking
So what does sugar do in baking other than making things sweet? A lot of things, actually. When added to wheat flour, it slows down the formation of gluten, which makes the texture of baked goods finer and softer. It also attracts and retains moisture in your dishes when used. That means they stay fresh for longer because sugar slows down the drying out process. Oh, and you know how pastry is supposed to be a nice golden brown? That happens thanks to sugar as well, because it caramelizes when heat is applied, and it lends that color to the baked good. And when it comes to using yeast as a rising agent, the organisms in yeast like to gorge on the sugar to help the baked goods rise.
5 types of sugar to learn about
1. White granulated sugar
This is the most common type of sugar that works for almost any dish you might want to make. It is either made from beets or sugar cane. You can use it for marinades, dry rubs, salad dressing, and so many more. White granulated sugar is 99.95 percent sucrose. It doesn’t really go bad. Ever. And that is good news for post-apocalyptic bakers, I think?
2. Caster sugar
Also known as baker’s sugar, caster sugar is pretty much the same as white granulated sugar, with one fundamental difference: it has been ground for a finer texture. There are multiple sizes of sugar crystals and there can be superfine and ultrafine types of sugar. What do they do though? These sugars dissolve faster and give a more delicate texture to the baked goods.
3. Confectioner’s sugar
Also known as powdered sugar, this is the most finely ground type of sugar. It dissolves very easily, and it’s used in making candy, frostings, and icings. You can also use it to decorate the tops of desserts with a fine mist of sugary goodness. 95 to 97 percent of it is sucrose, the rest being cornstarch, added it to keep it from forming clumps. You can make your own powdered sugar by grinding it finely.
4. Brown sugar
Brown sugar is a version of ordinary cane sugar, only less refined. That means that it contains an amount of molasses, but also caramel. When you use this in recipes, you should measure it by packing it tightly into the measuring cup. This happens because it has a bit of a wet consistency. And it can contain a lot of air. When it combines with baking soda, it will activate it, so keep that in mind. But also, don’t forget that brown sugar gives a darker shade to your baked goods. Be mindful of what you’re making.
5. Raw granulated sugar
Raw sugars are brown sugars, but they are dry. They’re typically used to sweeten your morning coffee or your tea. They’re don’t work as great in baking. But their coarser texture means you can decorate your baked goods with them. It will give them a great ‘crunch’ factor. They contain less molasses than normal brown sugar, but they have been refined less than the white granulated sugar. If health is your concern when it comes to sweeteners, keep that in mind.