Since You Asked: Sugar comes in many types
When a recipe calls for raw cane sugar, can you substitute regular sugar?
— Susan M., Sams Valley
Yes, you can. Several varieties of sugar are available in the baking aisle, and many are interchangeable, cup for cup.
Raw sugar is "the residue left after sugarcane has been processed to remove the molasses and refine the sugar crystals," according to the "Food Lover's Companion" by Sharon Tyler Herbst. Because of its raw state, it can contain molds and contaminants. So any raw sugar sold in the United States is purified first.
Sugars labeled turbinado or demerara are less processed than regular sugar and close substitutes for raw sugar. Here's a glossary of common sugar varieties:
- Granulated — the most commonly used form of sweetener for baked goods or at the table, Generally inexpensive and easy to work with, it's refined from cane or beet sugar.
- Baker's sugar — crystals are smaller than regular granulated sugar. With a grain size defined as "ultra fine," it is said to blend and melt more evenly. It measures the same as granulated sugar.
- Superfine — sometimes listed as castor sugar, as it's known in Britain and other countries. It dissolves faster in liquids and is ideal for making meringues.
- Brown sugar — commonly available in light and dark, this is granulated sugar with some molasses mixed in, so it's darker and softer. The darker the sugar, the deeper the molasses flavor.
- Confectioners' — also called powdered sugar, this is pulverized, granulated sugar.
- Turbinado — raw sugar that, according to the "Food Lover's Companion," "has been steam cleaned." Light brown with large crystals, it stands in for raw cane sugar.
- Demerara — the English version of turbinado.
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