sugar, sugar …

May 28, 2010

Here in the Western world, we commonly use sugar made from sugar cane.  But, did you know that in some parts of the world the most common form of sugar is made from beets?
Today, there are so many types of sugar readily available, unlike back in the day when it was so rare that is was referred to as “white gold.”
Sugar is most commonly thought of as a sweetening agent, but it is much more than that.  When looked at closer, it plays many roles.
While baking, sugar helps to produce air bubbles when mixed with a fat such as butter.  This allows the batter to rise while baking when a leavening agent like baking soda is added and is able to enlarge the air bubbles the sugar helped create.
Sugar also attracts moisture by reducing the amount of gluten formed creating a nice tender crumb.  And, lastly sugar allows the batter to brown in the oven when heated providing a nice browned crust from the sugar being caramelized.
As I mentioned above there are many types of sugar.
Here is a little run down of a few of the many types of sugar: {foundhere}
  • Confectioners or powdered sugar – In Britain it is called icing sugar and in France sucre glace. This sugar is granulated sugar ground to a smooth powder and then sifted. It contains about 3% cornstarch to prevent caking. Powdered sugar is ground into three different degrees of fineness. The confectioners sugar available in supermarkets – 10X – is the finest of the three and is used in icings, confections and whipping cream. The other two types of powdered sugar are used by industrial bakers.
  • Granulated sugar – Also called table sugar or white sugar. This is the sugar most known to consumers, is the sugar found in every home’s sugar bowl, and most commonly used in home food preparation. It is the most common form of sugar and the type most frequently called for in recipes. Its main distinguishing characteristics are a paper-white color and fine crystals.
  • Raw sugar – It is essentially the product at the point before the molasses is removed (what’s left after sugarcane has been processed and refined). Popular types of raw sugar include demerara sugar from Guyana and Barbados sugar, a moist, fine textured sugar. Turbinado sugar is raw sugar that has been steam cleaned to remove contaminates., leaving a light molasses flavored, tan colored sugar.
  • Brown sugar (light and dark) – Brown sugar retains some of the surface molasses syrup, which imparts a characteristic pleasurable flavor. Dark brown sugar has a deeper color and stronger molasses flavor than light brown sugar. Lighter types are generally used in baking and making butterscotch, condiments and glazes. The rich, full flavor of dark brown sugar makes it good for gingerbread, mincemeat, baked beans, and other full flavored foods.  But, really it is all about your personal preference which one you decide to use.
  • Turbinado sugar – This sugar is raw sugar which has been partially processed, where only the surface molasses has been washed off. It has a blond color and mild brown sugar flavor, and is often used in tea, and creme brulee.
And, this is just the tip of the ice berg.
To learn more about sugar click herehere, here, here + here.

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