Sugar & Sweeteners
Sugars and sweeteners flavor and tenderize baked goods and give them a golden brown crust.
Sugar is processed from either sugar cane or sugar beets. For most baking recipes, there is no difference in quality or performance between cane or beet sugar. However, if a recipe involves melting or caramelizing sugar, cane sugar seems to melt more readily than beet sugar.
Sugar should be stored in an airtight, moisture-proof container to prevent lumping.
There are a number of types of sugars and sweeteners. Be sure to use the type specified in the recipe.
- Brown sugar: This is cane or beet sugar that contains some molasses, making it moist and firm. Both light and dark brown sugars are available. Dark brown sugar has a slightly stronger flavor because it contains more molasses. Brown sugar should be stored in a tightly sealed glass or plastic container in a cool, dry place to prevent it from drying out. To soften brown sugar that has dried out, add a piece of apple (placed in an open plastic bag) to the storage container. Seal tightly; remove the apple after two days.
- Corn syrup: This is a thick, sweet syrup available in light or dark forms. Dark corn syrup has a stronger flavor and is dark in color.
- Granulated sugar: This is a refined, white, all-purpose sugar from which all the molasses has been removed.
- Honey: This is a very sweet, thick liquid made by bees from flower nectar. It contributes sweetness, moisture and a distinct flavor to baked goods. Use regular honey, not whipped, in recipes. If honey crystallizes, place the open jar in a pan of hot water until the honey turns liquid again.
- Molasses: This is a by-product of the sugar refining process and is available in three forms: light, dark and blackstrap. Light molasses is lightest in color and flavor; dark has a rich flavor; and blackstrap has a bitter flavor unsuitable for most baking.
- Powdered sugar: Also known as confectioner’s sugar, it is finely ground sugar that contains cornstarch for ease of mixing and blending. It may need to be sifted to remove lumps.
- Superfine sugar: This is sugar that is granulated to the finest crystals. It is ideal for making meringues and cakes.