A Chef's Guide to Sugar

Chef's Corner
A Chef's Guide to Sugar

ELEONORA LAHUD, Research Chef, Domino Foods, Inc.

Eleonora has a degree in Food Science and is a Certified Baker from the American Institute of Baking, with management studies in Barcelona, Spain. She has experience working with leading global food companies in research & development, technical sales, consumer engagement and catering.


 

White, light brown, dark brown, turbinado – how do you know which sugar to use? Each sugar has a distinctively different taste profile, color, and texture. Therefore, it’s important to understand these differences in order to choose the right product for your application and achieve your desired result.

 

Extra Fine Granulated Sugar: 

Also known simply as white sugar, Extra Fine Granulated Sugar is highly versatile and delivers a clean flavor profile. A pantry staple, this product is a great choice for a wide range of food and beverage applications - baked goods, breads, sauces, marinades, pickling, brining, and more. It is particularly ideal for cold beverages like lemonade and sweet teas because it dissolves quickly and sweetens without adding flavor.

Agua Fresca

Bakers Special Sugar: 

With an ultra-fine grain size, Bakers Special Sugar is a white sugar that is specifically designed for baking and confectionery applications. The smaller grain size means that it mixes, blends and melts more evenly than Extra Fine Granulated Sugar.

 

Photo credit: Rebecca Firth @displacedhousewife

Powdered Sugar:

Also known as Confectioners Sugar, this sugar has an exceptionally fine granulation and clean flavor profile. The super smooth texture makes this sugar ideal for frostings and glazes. It’s also commonly used for lightly dusting pastries, fruit, or desserts to add a touch of sweetness and enhance their visual appeal.

 

As we move from white sugar to brown sugars, the difference is not only in color, but in taste and performance. Brown sugars retain more of the natural molasses for a depth of flavor and enhanced texture.

 

Light Brown Sugar:

Delivering medium levels of flavor described as buttery and warm, Light Brown Sugar tends to balance and carry other ingredient flavors very well – particularly in savory dishes. The moist character of this sugar imbues a rich and chewy texture to baked goods.


Dark Brown Sugar:

This is the flagship sugar for creating luscious marinades for meats – especially when grilling and smoking. Dark Brown Sugar adds complex spicy notes and depth of color to cakes, gingerbread, and brown breads. It also pairs especially well with stone fruits and dark chocolate.


Turbinado:

Also known as Demerara, Turbinado has large amber crystals that deliver a hint of sweet spice and green fruity top notes. This sugar is a popular choice for sweetening hot coffee, espresso, and tea. It also works well as a topping for cookies and other baking applications, adding crunchy texture, sweetness, and a bit of sparkle.  Simple syrup prepared with turbinado has complex flavor and is perfect for pouring over pancakes or waffles.