When it comes to baking and cooking, sugar contributes so much more than just sweetness. Sugar adds flavor and texture, depending on what type you use for your desserts. Each type of sugar will yield different results, too. Here is a quick guide to understanding how different kinds of sugars work in baking, and when and how to use each one.
1 Granulated Sugar
Basic white sugar is refined and processed, meaning all the molasses and natural moisture has already been removed when you purchase it. It’s an all-purpose sugar that’s easy to measure, easy to melt, and easy to bake with. It’s great for any kind of cake, cookie, cupcake, or bar. It crystallizes easily, too, so use it for cookies with crackly crusts and crispy textures.
2 Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added back into it, making it more dense, more moist, and more flavorful. Use it to make chewy cookies and bars, but avoid using it to make cakes—brown sugar and its large crystals and higher moisture content can weigh down the light cake batter you worked hard to make.
3 Caster Sugar
Caster sugar or superfine sugar is similar to white sugar, but with smaller crystals. These dissolve into batters faster and whip up smoother, so use it for tender and fluffy cakes. You’ll also be able to whip up a great meringue with superfine sugar!
4 Powdered Sugar
Powdered sugar or confectioners’ sugar is white sugar that has been ground into a fine powder and combined with a small amount of cornflour. Always sift it before using it—powdered sugar tends to form into large clumps. Make smooth glazes and fluffy frosting with this sugar.
5 Muscovado Sugar
Muscovado sugar is an unrefined brown sugar with a larger amount of molasses in it than the common brown sugar. Its crystals are fine but tend to clump into large balls because of its sticky nature and high moisture content—you can easily sift the sugar to get rid of them. Set the large clumps aside to mix into your drinks or coffee if they are still too big to mix into your dough or batter. The rich molasses flavor makes muscovado sugar perfect for Food for the Gods, butterscotch bars, and gingerbread.
6 Demerara Sugar
Demerara is a type of raw, minimally-refined sugar, so it has a touch of that delicious natural molasses flavor, too. You’ll notice these large, light brown crystals to top muffins, cakes, and cookies as decoration. You can also use it to sweeten your coffee and tea.