Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tip 2: All About Sugar

  • Recently, I've been wondering a lot about sugar. We really don't think about sugar, often just taking it for granted when we whip up a cake or bake a batch of cookies. Although there are many other sweeteners, sugar by far is the most popular. Let's take a closer look at these sugary granules and the many forms they come in.

  • Granulated Sugar - Derived from sugarcane or sugar beets, this is the most common sweetener in baked goods.
  • Brown Sugar - Brown sugar is granulated sugar with molasses added. It comes in two forms - light and dark, the latter containing more molasses than the former. Light brown sugar has a more delicate flavour. Brown sugar should be kept in an airtight container (preferably plastic) so that it will not dry out and become rock-hard. Another type of dark cane sugar is called Muscovado which has a fine moist texture and molasses undertone. Brown sugar is also referred to as yellow or golden sugar.
  • Coarse Sugar - This is mainly a decorating sugar that is sprinkled over cookies before they are baked. The granules are larger than regular white sugar ones.
  • Confectioners' Sugar - This is also known as powdered or icing sugar. It is granulated sugar that has been processed into a powder. Cornstarch is added to prevent caking and it is less sweet than white sugar. The texture is light and cannot be substituted in equal amounts for granulated sugar. It is mainly used for dusting baked goods and preparing icing.
  • Sanding Sugar - This is a granualted sugar that comes in a variety of textures and colours. It is mainly used for decorating cookies and adding sparkle to finished baked goods.
  • Superfine Sugar - This is also known as castor sugar. The grain is fine and dissolves very easily. It can also be substituted in equal amounts for granulated sugar.
  • Turbinado Sugar - It is sold under the name "sugar in the raw" and has a coarse texture and molasses flavour. Turbinado is pale brown and is a great sugar to sprinkle on cookies before they are baked.
  • Vanilla Sugar - This is granulated sugar flavoured with vanilla.

As I looked around for information about sugar I came across The Sugar Association where I found some interesting facts. Did you know that sugar helps to reduce the acidity in foods? Fascinating.

I also came across the Canadian Sugar Institute where you can read about the history of sugar, sugar production and nutritional facts.

So as we can see, sugar is more than something to stir into tea and coffee. I couldn't have done this post without the great book The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle, an indispensible source of information and super recipes. Playing a supporting role for this post was The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham.


Canadian Baker said...

Thanks MiltonMama for the great feedback. :) I like your new cookie name too...very original!

Elise said...

Sugar does reduce the acidity in dishes. We use it often with tomato sauces. If a sauce tastes a little too acid, we add a teaspoon of sugar. Helps a lot.