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The Function of Sugars in Baking

They add sweetness and flavor.

They create tenderness and fineness of texture, partly by weakening the gluten structure.

They give crust color.

They increase keeping qualities by retaining moisture.

They act as creaming agents with fats and as foaming agents with eggs.

They provide food for yeast.

Invert Sugars

A mixture of equal parts dextrose and laevulose, it is about 30% sweeter than sugar. Examples of invert sugars are, honey, maple syrup, agave, glucose, corn syrup and trimolene.

Regular Refined Sugars, or Sucrose

Granulated Sugar - Table sugar.

Very Fine and Ultra-fine Sugar (Caster Sugar) – Great for cakes and cookies because they make a more uniform batter and can support higher quantities of fat.

Sanding Sugar – is coarse and used for coating cookies, cakes, and other products.

Confectioners / Powdered Sugars – are ground to a fine powder and mixed with a small amount of starch (about 3%) to prevent caking. They are classified by their coarseness.

10x — the finest of the three grades, allows for the smoothest textures in icings.

6x — standard confectioner’s sugar, used in icings, frostings, and cream fillings.

4x & 2X — primarily used for dusting

Dehydrated Fondants – is a dried form of fondant icing. During the manufacturing of fondant, part of the sucrose is changed to an invert sugar. This helps keep the sugar crystals tiny, which makes for a very smooth, creamy icing with good shine.

Brown Sugar

Is a product that is mostly sucrose but contains varying amounts of caramel, molasses, and other impurities. The darker grades contain more impurities. Basically it is cane sugar that has not been completely refined. It should never be used in white cakes. And should always stored in air tight containers. Demerara sugar is crystalline brown sugar. Sometimes used in baking but more often used a sweetener with coffee or tea.

For a full rundown of sugar and plenty of other food science, check out Harold McGee’s, “On Food and Cooking The science and lore of the Kitchen”. A must for any serious cook.

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