Sugar

Sugar

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From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

A sweet substance extracted from many plants, chiefly sugar cane, sugar beet, sugar maple and various species of palm.

Types of sugar:

Cane sugar: Different varieties of cane sugar have somewhat different applications. Despite the preference for raw sugar by health food enthusiasts there is no significant difference between raw and refined sugars; the only difference is taste. Raw sugar, brown sugar and syrups are higher in mineral content than white sugar but shouldn’t be regarded as an important food source of any nutrient other than carbohydrate.

Ordinary white granulated sugar: The most common sugar, used as an everyday sweetener. It is the best to use in the making of syrups and toffees as it gives the clearest results.

Caster (superfine) sugar: A fine white sugar, best for creaming and beating cake and icing mixtures and where a less grainy result is wanted. Brown sugar: Sugar that is refined further and then coated with a film of molasses. Brown sugar can replace white in any recipe where the flavour will not be harmed by a note of molasses.

Icing (confectioners’) sugar: A powdered sugar with grains so fine as to be almost intangible. Pure icing sugar is used to make icing for fine ‘piped’ decoration of cakes as well as a firm covering. Soft icing mixture is pure icing sugar with cornflour, which helps keep the grains soft. It is used in icings and frostings where a soft finish is required.

Demerara sugar: The least refined sugar we can buy. Centrifuges spin the raw sugar, much like a clothes dryer, and force the liquid off the crystals. This is how white sugar is made. Demerara sugar still has much of the molasses left in the crystals, giving it a distinctive rich flavour which is excellent for baking, making chutneys and desserts. New to the Australian market but well known in the United Kingdom, it is produced in Mauritius.

Cubed or loaf sugar: Dates from the time before we had the technology to crystallise sugar, when sugar was sold in large hard chunks (it still is in some parts of the world). When sugar was needed a small tool was used to chip away at the rock of sugar. After a time sugar refineries began to cut these loafs into smaller and smaller chunks, eventually producing the sugar cube we know today. It is a convenient product for adding to hot drinks and for rubbing over citrus zest to add flavour to a dish.

Palm sugar: Made from the sap of many types of palm, it is used in various Asian foods. Available in Asian stores, it is dominant in the cuisines of Southeast Asia. Palm sugar is now widely used in preserving, snacks, cakes, drinks and sweetmeats.

Beet sugar: In Europe and the US, sugar made from sugar beet is common. The sugar beet plant is a root crop that grows underground. When fully grown, a sugar beet weighs 1–2 kg and produces about 3 teaspoons of sugar. Sugar beets are white in colour, and quite sweet when eaten raw. Sugar made from sugar beets is identical to that made from sugar cane; however, sugar and molasses (the kind for human consumption) come only from the processing of sugar cane.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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