Sorting Out White Sugar


Joined Apr 4, 2000
Sorting Out White Sugar
From fine powders to coarse crystals

by Molly Stevens

White sugar is perhaps the most modest member of the pantry, so unobtrusive that we tend to take it for granted. Certainly it's true that white sugar lasts forever, unless it gets wet. And regardless of its source (sugar cane or sugar beets), all granulated white sugar tastes the same. It's 99.9% pure sucrose, refined and processed into small crystals.

The size of the crystals determines the sugar's use in the kitchen. The most common white sugar -- what most of us spoon into coffee and use for baking -- is simply called standard granulated sugar (though it's sometimes labeled "fine granulation"). An all-purpose sugar, it dissolves readily in warm and hot liquids and works in most types of cooking.

Confectioners' sugar (a.k.a. icing or powdered sugar) is pulverized granulated sugar that's been milled with a bit of cornstarch (about 3% to 4%). Since confectioners' sugar is so fine, it dissolves readily in any liquid or fat, hot or cold, so it's often used to sweeten uncooked foods without making them grainy. Its powdered texture also works beautifully to dust on desserts. The cornstarch, which absorbs moisture from the air and helps prevent clumping, sets this sugar apart from the other white sugars in several ways. Some people notice the raw taste of the starch in uncooked foods. The cornstarch can be a plus, however, helping to stiffen meringues, harden decorative royal icings, and thicken uncooked candies.

Superfine sugar also dissolves well in cold and room-temperature liquids, making it useful for meringues (which weep if there's any undissolved sugar). But unlike confectioners' sugar, superfine sugar is granulated. It's also called ultrafine, instant dissolving, bar, or castor sugar, its British name.

Of all the granulated sugars, superfine has the tiniest and most uniform crystals. The tiny granulation improves the texture of cakes and other butter-and-sugar batters because the crystals' many sharp edges cut into the butter during creaming, forming many air pockets. If you can't find superfine sugar, you can make your own by grinding granulated sugar in a food processor for 30 to 40 seconds.

While shopping for sugar, keep in mind that the sugar industry has not standardized its labels, so stay alert to inconsistencies between brands.

From Fine Cooking #26, p. 74
Joined Dec 4, 2001
C&H is producing something it calls Baker's Sugar that purports to be similar to that used by professional bakers. It's benefits include more thorough disolving qualities and more even distribution. I have used it and I don't notice much difference. Still, the price is the same as regular sugar and they are interchangable so why not?
Regular granulated sugar in Britain is much coarser than our sugar here. Regular US granulated sugar is somewhere between the coarse British sugar and superfine (caster) sugar.
I seem to remember reading somewhere that the finer a sugar is ground, the less sweet it becomes. Hmm?

Joined Sep 13, 2012
Hmm... i have a mini food processor too i may just run through my granulated sugar in there, i am going to use weather spoons granulated home grown as it's just the cheapest, 86p in home bargain's, what difference does it make to caster sugar though when baking things like cookies, shortbreads and cakes? does it make much difference to how it turns out?.
Joined Aug 25, 2009
Try making meringue with regular sugar, it can get  granular sometimes but if your have a batch of superfine sugar (dust like) , it can make alot of difference in certain dishes.

It incorporates well .
Joined Sep 13, 2012
I've already got lots of the sugar left from trying to make cookies this week, i only used 125g grams of it so i will have to put it through my food proccesor, i will probs still have lots left even after that though lol, i guess me and my family can use it for coffee or my dad for making something, i have a good mini processor and only takes 10 seconds to rip things to shreds lol i wish i could use it to cream together the butter and sugar but it's only small, a spatula works great smoothing out butter though, i always leave it out for an hour before baking so it goes softer. It's really a food chopper but really it's very powerful, you can even make sauces with it if you wanted, here is the link for it''

I highly reccomend it i'm really pleased with it. 
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