What makes you want to dip your finger in the frosting bowl? Or spread an extra layer of jam on your toast? The sweet, tempting taste of sugar. Aside from making baked products delectably sweet, sugar serves many other purposes. It acts as a creaming agent with fats and as a foaming agent with eggs. Sugar also assists with the tenderization of baked products, promotes good color, enhances keeping qualities by retaining moisture, and acts as food for yeast in breads.
Here’s an overview of the most common sugars and sweeteners used in everyday cooking and baking.
- Granulated Sugar (a.k.a. white sugar) is highly refined cane or beet sugar. Granulated sugar is the most commonly used sugar in recipes.
- Confectioners’ Sugar (a.k.a. powdered sugar) is a granulated sugar that has been crushed into a fine powder. To prevent clumping, a small amount (about 3%) of cornstarch is added. Confectioners’ sugar is most commonly used to make icings and candy.
- Brown Sugar is granulated sugar combined with molasses, which gives it a soft texture. Depending on the amount of molasses, it is labeled golden (light), or dark brown.
- Corn Syrup is a thick, sweet syrup created by processing cornstarch acids or enzymes. It comes in both light and dark. Light has been clarified to remove all color and cloudiness; dark has caramel flavor and color added to it and has a deeper color and stronger flavor. Corn syrup is most commonly used to make frostings, candy, jams and jellies.
- Honey is a thick, sweet liquid made by bees from flower nectar. Its color is derived from the nectar’s source.
- Molasses is the concentrated syrup remaining after granulated sugar is removed from cane. It comes in light and dark; the dark has a more intense flavor.