The Functionality of Sugar in Baking

In baking, sugar is used in crystalized and liquid forms. Crystalized sugar is available in a wide range of particle sizes. These sizes range from granulated powdered, baker’s special or superfine, extra fine, and sanding sugars. The particle size to use will depend on the baking application.


Another type of sugar is brown sugar, which can range from light to dark, and contributes flavor, color, and extends the shelf life of baked goods. Learning how the different types of sugar interact with other ingredients in recipes is essential in baking to understand which type of sugar works best for the desired baking application.


  • Whipping and creaming aid
    Fat-based cakes are typical when it comes to the creaming method. In this method, sugar helps incorporate air into the fat, creating very small air cells that are responsible for the texture of the finished product.
  • Crumb tenderizer
    Sugar tenderizes bakery products by promoting a soft cake structure and preventing the overdevelopment of gluten.
  • Aid in moisture retention
    Sugars are humectants, which are substances that retain and preserve moisture. Due to their hygroscopic nature, they attract and bind water to their molecular structure.
  • Crust color formation
    Sugar crystals separate in solution from one another when attracted to water molecules, creating a fuller mouthfeel or body. Sugar also provides crunchiness when used as a topping.
  • Shelf life extender and flavor developer
    Brown sugar, for example, acts as a softening agent, enhancing the chewy texture of a cookie. Brown sugar also helps extend shelf life, reducing free water available in the cookie.
  • Bulk support
    Sugar contributes to the mouthfeel in recipes by providing body.