“How-To” Baking – Sugar Varieties

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Sugar is an essential ingredient in cooking, especially baking. It adds sweetness, helps various foods to caramelize, encourages yeast to grow in bread dough, preserves foods, and gives stability to egg whites. It’s important to note that not all sugar is created equal and different sugars lend themselves to different purposes. The most common sugars and their uses are listed below.

Granulated (white) Sugar – This is the most common type of sugar used in cooking/baking. It is extracted from either sugarcane or the roots of sugar beets and then refined by a process of boiling, centrifuging, chemical treatment, and straining. It’s perfect in all types of baking recipes from cookies to cakes. It’s also used to sweeten beverages such as coffee and tea.

Cane Sugar – Cane sugar is made purely from sugarcane and is minimally processed. Its granules are slightly larger and darker than that of granulated sugar. It can be used in cooking/baking the same way as granulated sugar however, it is far more expensive.

Superfine/Castor Sugar – When granulated sugar is finely ground it becomes superfine sugar or what is known in England as castor sugar. This type of sugar dissolves more rapidly and is perfect to use in mixed drinks and delicate mixtures such as whipped egg whites.

Confectioner’s (powdered) Sugar – Granulated sugar that is crushed and combined with a little cornstarch becomes confectioner’s sugar. It is perfect for dusting foods, decorating plates, and making icings and candies. Little lumps that usually appear in the confectioner’s sugar should be sifted out before using in most recipes.

Pearl Sugar – This type of sugar has a hard, coarse texture and an opaque white coloring. It also holds its shape at high temperatures and does not melt. This type of sugar is most commonly seen in Scandinavian desserts as a topping for buns and pastries.

Brown Sugar – This is granulated sugar that has been combined with molasses to give it a rich flavor and soft, moist texture. Brown sugar comes in both light and dark varieties and can be used interchangeably. Light brown sugar will impart a more mild molasses flavor while the dark brown sugar will be a bit stronger flavored. Brown sugar is used in cookie dough, marinades, sauces, and on top of desserts that require caramelization.

Muscovado Sugar – Sometimes referred to as Barbados sugar, it is a type of unrefined cane sugar where the molasses have not been removed. While it can be used like brown sugar in recipes, note that it has a stronger, richer and more complex flavor. It’s perfect for BBQ sauces, marinades and some savory dishes.

Demerara Sugar – This is also a type of cane sugar that is minimally refined. It contains large granules, has an amber color, and a light molasses flavor. It’s perfect for topping baked goods such as muffins, cookies, and scones and is also used to sweeten coffee and tea.

Sugar in the Raw – Also known as turbinado sugar, this sugar is similar to brown sugar only it has much larger crystals and is not as moist. Raw sugar can be used in baking but it really shines as a topping for cookies and muffins as it adds a little crunch and bite to the finished product.

Sanding (coarse) Sugar – This type of sugar has slightly larger granules and comes in a variety of colors that are perfect for decorating cookies, cakes, candies, and sweet breads.

 

 

 

“How-To” Baking – Macerating

Macerating basically means to soak fruit in juice so that is becomes softened, juicy, and the flavor intensified. Fruit can be macerated in various liquids such as liquors and liqueurs, syrups, vinegar, citrus juice, and extracts such as vanilla or almond. Different fruits can be macerated together in order to meld their flavors. When doing this, start the tougher skinned fruits first and then add the softer fruits later in the process so they don’t become too mushy.

Some recipes might call for macerating fruits by sprinkling them with sugar. Although not *technically* macerating as there is no liquid being applied to the fruit, the sugar does serve to draw the moisture out of the fruit. When the moisture combines with the sugar in the bowl it creates a nice juicy syrup. This method works particularly well with fresh strawberries.

Cinnamon Swirl Doughnut Bread

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I love cinnamon sugar anything!! It’s such a warm, cozy flavor that reminds me of cool, crisp autumn nights. Cinnamon sugar breads are not only a yummy dessert but also a great (not so healthy) breakfast treat that is perfect with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea. To make this bread extra decadent and delicious, simply drizzle a light sugar glaze over the top.

I stumbled upon this recipe on FB, it was posted by Preppy Kitchen however, the original recipe can be found here, Cinnamon Swirl Doughnut Bread , on “Lauren’s Latest” blog. This bread came out amazing!! It was moist and soft with just the right amount of cinnamon and sugar. I followed the recipe as is, making no adjustments to it whatsoever. You can also turn this recipe into fantastic Coffee Cake Muffins which are perfect for a cozy Sunday morning breakfast. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the bread

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk*
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp molasses

For the outside coating

  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

*If you do not have buttermilk mix together 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 tsp white vinegar. Let sit for 3 minutes and then add to recipe.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a lightly colored loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the oil, butter, and sugar until well combined. Stir in the eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk and continue to mix until a smooth, uniform batter has formed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure no lumps are present.

Remove 1/2 cup of the batter and place into a smaller, separate bowl. Add to it the cinnamon and molasses, stir to combine.

Pour half of the prepared batter into the loaf pan. Spoon half of the cinnamon batter in small dollops all over the batter. Pour the remaining batter in the pan and dot the top with the remaining cinnamon batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the two batters together.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove.

Towards the last 10-15 minutes of baking, get the outside coating ready. Pour melted butter into a large shallow dish. Stir the cinnamon and sugars together in a separate shallow dish.

Dip each side of the loaf and the top into the melted butter and fully coat it. Transfer the buttery loaf to the cinnamon sugar mixture and press each side and the top into the mixture until fully coated.

Slice into pieces and serve warm or at room temperature.