Good Cooking..."A Mouthwatering Site on the Internet" since 1995
Antique Walnut & Pewter Fork circ. 1880 Bohemia
About Sugar---Working with sugar in pastry and baking preparations!
How Is White Sugar Made?
White sugar is refined from raw sugar, which
is usually extracted from sugar cane juice. Refined sugar is
Raw sugar is a light brown color, and can be refined in one
step using a process called carbonization.
dissolving the sugar into a liquid solution and then adding calcium
hydroxide mixed with water. Calcium carbonate forms and attracts the
colorants and contaminants in the solution, and it locks them away as it
falls to the bottom of the carbonization chamber. By the end of the process,
all that is left in the sugar solution is water and sucrose.
solution is then boiled to remove the excess water, and the sucrose is
Brown sugar is made by adding molasses to white sugar and is naturally moist
because of the of molasses hygroscopic quality. Light brown contains 3.5%
molasses and dark brown sugar 6.5% molasses.
Demerara sugar is raw unrefined sugar with a large grain. Castor
sugar is the name of a very fine sugar in Britain, bar or extra fine sugar
in the USA. Confectioner's sugar is granulated sugar with the
addition of cornstarch which has been mechanically ground into a very fine
Sweeteners are granulated sugar, light brown sugar, powdered sugar (10-x or
confectioners'), corn syrup and honey. Granulated sugar is available in
about five categories of fineness example (regular, rock sugar, and
Cooked sugar is added to beaten egg to make a pate au bombe (egg yolks) or
an Italian meringue (egg whites). Start cooking the sugar and then go on to
another step. As the sugar cooks, the water added to it evaporates. If you
are not ready to use the sugar when it reaches the proper temperature,
simply add a few tablespoons of water and allow it to continue to cook. This
way you can hold the sugar until you are ready. Remember the term "Mise en
Place"---have everything ready before you start and you won't have to wait!
Using an invert sugar, (Sucrose can be split into its two component sugars
glucose and fructose). This process is called inversion, and the product is
called invert sugar allows you to use half the amount of regular sugar
called for in a recipe. Examples of invert sugars are honey, glucose, corn
syrup, and trimoline.
Powdered sugar: Also known as confectioners sugar or 10-x, this is
granulated sugar ground to a powder. You can't make it at home because no
home processor will grind it to that powdery texture. It is used to sweeten
because it dissolves more easily than granulated sugar. It is also used to
thicken because it usually contains cornstarch which prevents the granules
from sticking to each other.
Brown sugar: Brown sugar is either light or dark. For Creme Brulee it
doesn't matter. Brown sugar is a mixture of granulated sugar and molasses.
You can substitute brown sugar for granulated sugar any time the flavor of
the recipe will not be altered by a slight taste of molasses.
Corn syrup: This is starch extracted from corn kernels and treated with an
acid or enzyme to create a sweet syrup. Its presence will keep sugars from
crystallizing. Corn syrup is an invert sugar, meaning it takes half as much
of it to sweeten as much as regular sugar. Corn syrup helps baked good
retain their moisture and increases shelf life. It lasts indefinitely if you
keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Honey: Honey is another invert sugar. It is used to add sweetness and
moistness to baked goods. It also helps to extend shelf life because it
releases its moisture slowly and absorbs humidity. The darker the color, the
stronger the flavor. Clover blossom honey is light and blueberry blossom
honey is dark. I always prefer honey from the USA!
Vanilla sugar: This is granulated sugar to which dried vanilla bean has been
added. It can be stored indefinitely at room temperature in an airtight
Sure-Jell (powdered pectin): Fruit pectin for homemade jams and Jellies. It
contains dextrose (corn syrup), fruit pectin, and furnaric acid (which
assists in the gelling process). Most grocery stores carry it, it is also
available as Sure-jell Light or Slim-Set.
Stages of Sugar Temperature Range
(see more below)!
Always be very careful and don't be distracted when working with very hot
liquids that may splash or spill!!!
When sugar is cooked to 250°F (121°C) on a candy thermometer, it is cooked
to the soft ball stage. This method is definitely not recommended for anyone
who can't concentrate on what they are doing! Sugar cooked to the soft ball
stage is used when making Italian meringue.
When sugar is cooked to 300° to 311°F (148° to 155°C), it is cooked to the
hard crack stage. Sugar cooked to this stage is used to make Angel Hair or a
Cooked Sugar Tests and Temperatures
Stage Temperature Test
Thread---215°F Forms a brittle thread when pulled.
Pearl---220° - 222°F Forms pliable thread. Pulls off in sheets from a spoon.
Souffle---222° - 234°F Boiling sugar creates small bubbles resembling
Soft Ball---234° - 240°F Sugar syrup forms ball in water but flattens out
Firm Ball---242° - 248°F Sugar syrup forms ball in water and holds shape
when removed. A very soft ball can be rolled between your fingers.
Hard Ball---250° - 268°F Sugar syrup forms ball in water and holds its shape
in a tight, slightly pliable ball.
Soft Crack---270° - 290°F Sugar syrup forms stiff threads in water.
Firm Crack---293°F Sugar syrup has lost all of its water. Following stages
are critical and temperature should be watched very carefully.
Hard Crack---300° - 310°F Sugar syrup forms hard, brittle threads when
dropped into water.
Liquid Sugar 320°F Melting point of sugar.
Light Caramel---330° - 350°F Syrup turns a very pale amber color darkening
to a rich golden.
Medium Caramel---350° - 370°F Syrup continues to darken, turning from light
brown to a dark mahogany.
Dark Caramel---370° - 400°F Syrup becomes very dark brown, nearly black and
gives off a very burnt aroma. Used only for coloring, not for confections.
Used in Jamaican cooking for coloring gravy.
Black Jack +400°F Black color, dark smoke. No practical use for this---it's