When it comes to baking, the best part is the sugar! But do you really know the difference between all the different types?
Types of white sugars
I like to think of this as ‘sugar bowl sugar’, this is one we rely on to sweeten our tea or coffee. It is quite a course sugar, that has had all of the molasses refined out of it. This sugar is best for dissolving into drinks or sugar syrups. It can also be used to sprinkle on top of bakes and can be baked into some cookies.
Caster sugar is somewhere between granulated and icing sugar. It is quite fine in texture and dissolves well. Caster sugar is perfect for meringues, cakes, cookies, syrups. I think caster is a good all rounder! Not only is it good for bakes, it dissolves well in cocktails…mojito please!
Also known as ‘powdered sugar’ or ‘confectioners sugar’, icing sugar is the finest of the sugars. Icing sugar is perfect for dusting the tops of your bakes, for icings and making some desserts. I like to also use it for fondant, just like when you dust your work bench with flour to stop dough sticking, I like to use icing sugar in the same way when working with fondant.
Also known as ‘nib sugar’. This is not a commonly used sugar at home. The sugar is very coarse, hard, opaque white, and does not melt at temperatures. Confectioners would commonly use pearl sugar to decorate pastries, cookies, buns etc.
Types of brown sugars
Golden caster sugar
Golden caster sugar is a fine sugar that is made from unrefined sugar cane. It has a pale golden brown sugar and has a slight buttery flavour. It is a good substitute for regular caster sugar. It works well for cakes that use the ‘creaming method’, cookies and for sprinkling on top of bakes.
Demerara sugar has a fairly large grain and is a pale amber colour. It has a pleasant toffee flavour and can be used in place of brown sugar. It can be used as a crunchy topping for bakes, cupcakes and crumbles.
Muscavado is a unrefined cane sugar that has a very moist texture and a strong molasses flavour. You can substitute muscovado for traditional brown sugar, but be aware that the granules are larger and the molasses flavour much stronger. Muscovado has such a strong molasses flavour it works well in sticky ginger cake and rich fruit cakes.
Light brown sugar
Light brown sugar has a soft texture and has a subtle molasses flavour. It works well in fruit cakes and puddings.
Dark brown sugar
Dark brown sugar has the same texture as light brown sugar, however it has a much richer molasses flavour and is much darker in colour. Due to it’s rich flavour, it adds good flavour to gingerbread and cookies.