Would Sugar by Any Other Name be as Sweet?
One lump or two? Though many a good coffee connoisseur takes their brew strong and black, adding a bit of something sweet is a practice enjoyed by many. What exactly is the difference between white and brown sugar, and what the heck is "turbinado" sugar?
White sugar is the most common sweetener used in tea or coffee. You can get white sugar in regular granulated form, or finer ground as icing sugar or confectioner's sugar. Powdered sugar isn't typically used for simple beverage sweetening. White sugar is processed from sugar cane to have the molasses removed, and then it's filtered, crystalized and dried.
Brown sugar is my personal favorite. I love the heavier flavour in my coffee. It's made by adding the molasses back to regular white sugar, which makes it much moister and more prone to clumping than white sugar. I have heard that a piece of white bread in the container will keep your brown sugar soft.
Raw sugar is very similar to brown sugar, except this is sugar that hasn't been processed into white. So it has its natural molasses content intact. It's lighter than brown sugar in flavour, but the texture is more coarse (almost like kosher salt).
Another name for raw sugar, mentioned above. Other names for raw sugar are Muscovado and Demerara sugar. These are not literally identical, but they are the products produced at different stages of sugar processing. The differences between them are slight.
Of course, honey isn't a kind of sugar, but it's a popular sweet touch nonetheless. Produced by bees, it's a very natural form of sweetener that requires next to no processing before use. Liquid honey will crystalize over time, but whipped honey will remain soft (like butter) indefinately.
I thought I'd add this less common sweet selection that is gaining acceptance. It's actually an herbal product that is far sweeter than sugar. The botanical name is Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni. Stevia sweeteners can be found in many health food stores, or even grown in your own garden. More on stevia.
Some people choose one form of sugar over another for various health or nutrition reasons. Any added benefit from the extra molasses in either brown or raw sugar is pretty negligible, considering the small amounts added to your drinks.
What are the different kinds of sugar?
There are many types of sugar, categorized by their source and sweetness. Perhaps the most well-known sugar, from which table sugar is derived, is sucrose. Sucrose comes from sugar beets or sugar cane. Fruit sugar is called fructose; milk sugar is called lactose; malt sugar is called maltose; and sugar from honey or sweet fruits is called glucose (also called dextrose, corn sugar, or grape sugar).
Fructose is the sweetest sugar and lactose is the least sweet. On an unscientific "sweetness scale," used only for comparison purposes, sucrose would score 100, fructose 173, glucose 74, maltose 33, and lactose 16.
Granulated sugar (white sugar) is highly refined cane or beet sugar. Superfine sugar, known in Britain as castor sugar, is extra-granulated. Confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar) is granulated sugar that has been crushed into a fine powder, with a small amount of...
My question always is when reading a recipe is what is the difference between confectioners sugar and powdered sugar. Why do all recipes call it the first and not the second?
As you already know, confectioners' sugar and powdered sugar are the same thing - there is no difference. I believe it is a regional thing on which term is used in recipes.
In the northwest, where I live, we call it powdered sugar and use that term in our recipes. I noticed that most of the southern cookbooks call it confectioners' sugar. In Canada and England, it is called icing sugar.
It is no different than the terms used for butter. On the west coast, that is where I am from, we say cubes of butter. On the east coast they say sticks of butter. There are probably a lot more cooking terms that are used regionally, but that is all I could think of right now.
Substitutes: Mix 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon corn starch in blender until powdery.
Comments from readers:
Just a little aside for you - I just read your Q & A on Icing/Confectioners sugar. When I lived in Lancaster, PA, my Amish (and other) neighbors kept talking about 10X sugar. It turned out to be the name they used for confectioners sugar. My Amish friend used to buy milk crumbs as well to make cup cheese. This term certainly took me for a loop! Turns out, what she was referring to was very dry, large curd cottage cheese. Great site - I really enjoy it.
Coarse Sugar is large-grained and is ideal for decorating cakes, cookies, or any other baked goods. It can be sprinkled on your goodies either before baking, or onto icing after baking.
Coarse Sugar Crystals add beautiful, sparkling crunch to cookies or any other baked goods. Coarse sugar has granules about five times larger than those of regular granulated sugar.