More often than not, we come across popular recipes that call for white granulated sugar, icing sugar, or superfine sugar. And we just use what was available, substituting any other strange alternatives – molasses, brown sugar, honey – with whatever that is already sitting on your kitchen cabinet. However, different sugars impart different textures and flavours in your pastries, influencing the result of baking.
White sugar is refined cane sugar. It is the most common table sugar that you stir into your coffee and make flans with. The problem with white sugar is that it has all its minerals stripped off, providing consumers zero calories, about 16 calories per teaspoon. It has a moderate glycemic index, which resolves the myth that it is of high glycemic index. White sugar, when used in baking, does not merely sweeten the food. It provides even browning and lighter texture. Granulated sugar is fine, therefore easy to mix with other ingredients, e.g. creaming butter. Making meringues would be effortless with white sugar as it dissolves effectively. White sugar does not clump together, making it suitable for sprinkling on desserts.
Brown sugar can come in light brown and dark brown sugar. Brown sugar is said to be white sugar with molasses added back in, and its colour depends on its molasses content. Brown sugar has higher moisture content. This explains why brown sugar tends to clump together. You can keep a piece of bread in a container kept with brown sugar to prevent clumps. Brown sugar imparts a heavier flavour than white sugar. When packed, it contains 17 calories per teaspoon. For example, making brownies using brown sugar would result in a more caramelised taste. If you like your cookies with more caramel flavour, replace white sugar with brown sugar.
Muscovado, also known as dark brown sugar, is actually unrefined brown sugar, and was named poor man’s sugar. Since it is essentially sugarcane juice boiled and left to dry out, it retains most of its nutrition. It is stickier than brown sugar due to even higher moisture content, so you should take out some of the liquids used in the recipe. Muscovado can be used to substitute both white sugar and brown sugar in baking and making beverages, with 11 calories per teaspoon. It has a stronger flavour than brown sugar.
Sugar substitutes such as honey, maple syrup, molasses and corn syrup can be used to replace sugar in various recipes. Experiment on your own to compare the effects of different sugar alternatives with sugar. Planning to open up your own bakery?

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