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Sugar

Dec 6, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose

Sugar, in all its wonderous forms, has been the focus of many articles over the past few years. People have expressed curiosity and a desire to try some of these sugars in their baking but are uncertain as to how to use them in place of the familiar refined granulated sugar. I wrote the following article primarily for chefs, in an attempt to demystify the subject. But I think the time has come to share it with the home baker as well.

First a tip regarding a commonly used sugar: Light brown. I store it in a canning jar where it stays soft for years, but if it should harden and lump, I make a little cup of aluminum foil, place it on top of the sugar, wet a paper towel, wringing out excess water, set it in the foil cup, and close the jar. In a matter of hours the sugar will soften as if by magic.

Whenever a recipe calls for light brown sugar I chose light Muscovado from the Island of Mauritius, off the coast of India. It is available in many specialty stores and on line at www.indiatree.com. The flavor is far more complex and delicious than ordinary light brown sugar and elevates the dessert to a higher plane.

Roses Sugar Bible published in Food Arts Magazine April 2000

Sugar, the one flavor that is pleasing to all humans and other mammals on birth, is alluring, addictive, and can be a powerful tool in the hands of the right cook.

Yes, sugar is sweet. But there's a lot more to it than that. Sugar can offer subtle to intense overtones of butterscotch, toffee, caramel, wine, molasses, spice and even bitterness. These qualities derive from both the variety of the sugar source and from the degree and type of refinement. Knowing the different varieties and granulations of sugar and the ways in which they best perform can add considerable depth, drama and sparkle to both cooking and baking.

The dictionary definition of sugar is "any of a class of water soluble crystalline carbohydrates...having a characteristically sweet taste." This would include fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (milk sugar), maltose (malt sugar) and dextrose (corn sugar). The sugar most commonly known and used in baking, however, is sucrose and is most easily obtained from sugar cane or sugar beets.

A molecule of sucrose is composed of one fructose and one glucose molecule joined together to form a simple carbohydrate, easy to digest and full of energy. Other plants are capable of making sugar, but both cane and beet make it in quantities large enough to support refining.

The initial processing of sucrose extracts the sugar juices and crystallizes them. The sugar juices, which would spoil very rapidly, are thereby converted to raw sugar which has an indefinite shelf life. This process of creating crystallized sugar is thought to have begun in India before 3000 b.c.

The second and optional process in sugar production is refining to remove "impurities." This refers to anything that is not purely sucrose such as molasses and minerals. Although there is certainly an important place for pure refined white sugar, such as in meringues, fondants, and syrups, this is not to say that "impure" or less refined sugar is not highly desirable or even preferable and more exciting for many other uses from cakes to stews. Also, in addition to removing impurities and color, the refining and bleaching process produces an undesirable element of slight bitterness not present in partially refined sugar with only a trace of natural molasses. When it comes to light brown and dark brown sugar, however, refining results in flavor differences that are even more significant. Because partially refined brown sugar still contains some of its natural molasses, it has bright, clear color and rich taste with delicious underlying flavor components.

Refined brown sugar, such as beet sugar, which must have its molasses removed as it is not deemed fit for human consumption, however, has had all the molasses removed and then other molasses added back, at the expense of considerable depth of flavor. This is partially because an inferior grade of industrial molasses is often used and the molasses merely coats the outside of the sugar crystal and is no longer part of the crystal itself. In some cases food color, which is flavorless, is used instead of molasses to recreate the original brown appearance. This process is known as painting. A simple test to determine if the molasses has been removed and then added back is to add a spoonful of sugar to a glass of water. After just a few minutes, the water in the "painted" sugar will turn a pale brown and the sugar crystals will be clear. With partially refined sugar that still contains its natural molasses the water will remain clear and the sugar crystals brown. (Note, all sugar and sugar syrups are considered Kosher.)

SUGAR PRODUCTION:
After harvesting, the plants are shredded and pressed to remove the juices. Insoluble matter is removed and water is added. This syrup is boiled in large steam evaporators. The substance that remains is crystallized in heated vacuum pans and the liquid, now called molasses, is separated from the crystals by spinning it in a centrifuge. At this stage the sugar is known as raw sugar and contains 3 percent impurities. The raw sugar crystals are washed with steam and are called turbinado sugar, which is 99 percent pure sucrose. Although turbinado closely resembles refined white sugar in sweetening ability and composition, it cannot always be substituted in recipes. Its moisture content varies considerably which, coupled with its molasses flavor and coarse granulation, can affect a recipe without careful adjustment.

Refined white sugar is processed from turbinado sugar. The turbinado sugar is heated again to a liquid state, centrifuged, clarified with lime or phosphoric acid, and then percolated through a column of beef-bone char or mixed in a solution of activated carbon. This last process whitens the sugar and removes all calcium and magnesium salts. Finally, the sugar is pumped back into vacuum pans where it is heated until it crystallizes. It is centrifuged to remove syrup (marketed as refiner's syrup). It is not possible to crystallize and extract all the sugar in one operation so this boiling process is repeated several times. The sugar is then dried. The resulting sugar is 99.95 percent sucrose. (Sugar that is less refined may be somewhat gray in color and the protein impurities may cause foaming when the sugar is added to the liquid in a given recipe.) The sugar is then sieved and sorted for the different granulations.

GRANULATION AND VARIETY OF SUGAR (SIZE OF CRYSTAL AND AMOUNT OF MOLASSES)
All 99.95 percent refined sucrose has equal sweetening power despite the degree of granulation. The only difference in content is that powdered sugar has 3 percent cornstarch added to prevent lumping.
Regular granulated or fine granulated: This is the all-purpose sugar found in most sugar bowls and available in all supermarkets. This granulation is suitable for making syrups, but for most other baking a finer granulation is preferable. The term fine granulated is not to be confused with superfine which is much finer.
Extra-fine: Available commercially, this sugar is also known as fruit sugar because it is used in the preservation of fruits. Most professional bakers use this granulation as their all-purpose sugar if they can't find baker's special. When used in cakes, it results in a fine crumb and lighter texture because, with smaller crystals, more surface area is available to trap air. In the creaming process, the sharp or angular surfaces of the sugar crystals catch air. If the surface were smooth, as with powdered sugar, the grains would just clump together and not allow air in between. The more crystals there are, the more air will be incorporated. Cookies made with extra-fine sugar are smoother and have fewer cracks. Finer sugar also dissolves more easily and makes lighter, more delicate meringues.

Baker's special: Available commercially, this sugar is slightly finer than extra-fine and almost as fine as superfine. This is the perfect granulation for all baking. A close approximation can be made in the food processor using a coarser granulation and processing for a few minutes. Using a food processor it is possible to make a more finely granulated sugar, but the crystals will not be as uniform in size as in commercially produced finer grain sugars.
Castor sugar: This is a term that appears in British cookbooks. The sugar, commonplace in England, is slightly finer than baker's special. Its name is derived from the shaker top container in which it often appears. If you are converting a British recipe, substitute baker's special or superfine sugar.

Bar sugar, superfine, or ultrafine: This is the finest granulation of sugar and comes only in 1-pound boxes. It is sometimes called bar sugar because it is used in bars to make drinks that require fast-dissolving sugar. For the same reason, it is ideal for making meringues and fillings.

Powdered, confectioner's, or icing sugar: While it is possible to achieve a very fine granulation in the food processor, it is not possible to make true powdered sugar. This can only be done commercially. At one time, powdered sugar was stone-ground, but now it is ground in a steel magnesium rotary which turns against varying degrees of fine screens, each one determining a different fineness of the grind. The coarser granulation of the initial sugar, the more even will be the final grind. As might be expected, the finer the granulation, the greater the tendency of the sugar to lump, which explains why 3 percent cornstarch is added to absorb any moisture from the air before the sugar can. The cornstarch adds what is perceived as a raw taste and makes powdered sugar less suitable than granulated sugar for use with ingredients that are not to be cooked.
Powdered sugar comes in 4 degrees of fineness: 10XX (India Tree), 10X, the finest (available in supermarkets), 6X, and 4X, both of which are available commercially.

Nonmelting powdered sugar: This sugar is coated with a fat that keeps it from melting when sprinkled on top of cake, or fruit. There is a slight sensation of mouth coating which I find unpleasant.
Loaf or cube sugar: This is merely granulated sugar that has been pressed into molds when moist and then allowed to dry so it maintains the shape. Some recipes, particularly in the confectionery area, specify loaf sugar because at one time it was more refined. Today, this is not the case. In fact, due to modern manufacturing methods, the cubes have traces of oil from the molds, which makes them less desirable for sugar boiling.

Rock sugar and rock candy: This confection of clear transparent or amber crystals, also available on string or swizzle sticks with which to stir coffee, results from further refining by crystallization of refined cane sugar. It is produced by dissolving sugar in water to which string or wooden swizzle sticks are added, causing the sugar to transmute into transparent crystals which cling to the string or stick. Documentation as far back as 1584 refers to rock candy as having medicinal properties. Recipes to cure colds in the early part of the 20th century include "Rock and Rye."

Medium coarse and coarse pearl sugar or sanding sugar: These are the first crystals that form and are therefore the purest. Known as "strong" sugar because it resists color changes and inversion at high temperatures due to the absence of impurities, this type of sugar is ideal for confections and cordials and also for preparing caramel because impurities can cause crystallization. These large granules are sometimes used to sprinkle on cookies and pastries because they catch and reflect light providing sparkle. They are also available in varying colors and finer granulation (See sources--India Tree "sparkling sugar").

GemSugar: A new colored large sugar crystal made from Thai sugar cane. It is all natural because the color comes from infusing the sugar with herbs. This process produces a dazzling jewel like hue. The crystals are flavor neutral except for the amber sugar variety that has a faint butterscotch flavor. GemSugar is made by producing large rock crystal chunks which are then broken apart with hammers. The 3-5 mm size crystals that fragment off are the GemSugar. It is used for decorative settings or presentation.

Vanilla Sugar: This sugar is made by burying 2 or 3 vanilla beans in about one pound of sugar. The sugar is then covered and allowed to stand for at least one week. This is also a good use for used vanilla bean pods after they are dried. Pastry Chef Jean Philippe Maury of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, recommends substituting it for 8 percent of the weight of the sugar used in a recipe.

Brown Sugar: Most brown sugar is ordinary refined sucrose with some of the molasses returned to it (3.5 percent for light brown sugar, 6.5 percent for dark brown). When a recipe calls for brown sugar, it refers to light brown sugar unless otherwise specified.

If replacing light brown Muscovado sugar with more commonly available brown sugar it is best to use dark brown. Domino dark brown, more available on the east coast, has slightly less molasses than C & H which is more available in the Midwest and west coast. Neither has the complexity of Muscovado but for a similar molasses intensity the dark brown of either brand will come closer to the light brown Muscovado.

Equal volume of either type of brown sugar has the same sugar content as refined white sugar, but brown sugar must be measured by packing it firmly into the cup (therefore weighing is much easier). Dark brown sugar weighs the most because of its added molasses. Molasses also adds extra moisture to the sugar (light molasses contains 24 percent water). Dark brown sugar contains 6.5 percent molasses and a total of 2.1 percent water. Light brown sugar contains 3.5 percent molasses and a total of 1.3 percent water. (Plain white sugar contains only 0.5 percent water.)

Dark brown sugar weighs the most because of the additional molasses. Molasses also adds moisture to the sugar.

Meringue and dacquoise are usually made with refined sugar, but they also can be made with turbinado sugar as long as you allow the sugar to sit in the egg white for a minimum of 30 minutes to dissolve fully before beating. Even Italian meringue can be made with turbinado sugar syrup. And if an inter¬fering agent, such as pineapple juice, is used for caramel, turbinado also works beautifully, though it lowers the temperature of the finished stages of the caramel.

Store brown sugar in an airtight container, such as a canning jar, to keep it from losing moisture and solidifying. If the sugar should solidify, make a small shallow cup from a piece of aluminum foil and set it on top of the sugar in the container. Tear a paper towel in half, wet it, and squeeze out most of the wa¬ter. Set the towel on top of the foil, not touching the sugar. Cover the container tightly and, within several hours, the sugar will have drawn the moisture from the paper towel and become soft and loose again

If you run out of brown sugar and have white sugar and molasses on hand, the recommended conversion is: 1 cup packed light brown sugar 217 grams = 1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar + ¼ cup unsulfured molasses. 1 cup packed dark brown sugar/ 239 grams=1 cup granulated sugar + ½ cup unsulfured light molasses

PARTIALLY REFINED SUGAR PRODUCTION
Sugar that still contains some of its molasses and is not clarified and bleached is often referred to as unrefined. Actually, it is partially refined because during the initial processing necessary to obtain crystals (boiling, centrifuging and washing) some of the "impurities" are removed. Unlike refined sugar that is highly consistent in quality, partially refined sugars may vary in color, flavor and intensity, from batch to batch.

Amber crystal and golden caster sugar are the result of the first crystallization, where there is a higher proportion of sucrose to impurities. Raw sugar is from the second crystallization. Light and dark Muscovado and molasses are the results of the third crystallization when the sugar is placed in a tall sugar filtering bin where, by gravity, the molasses filters to the bottom. The light Muscovado is taken from the upper middle and the dark Muscovado is taken from the lower middle of the bin. ("Muscovado" sugars derived their name from Portuguese meaning "from the middle," referring to a traditional method of producing brown sugars before the invention of refined white sugar. )

Partially refined sugar from the tropical island Mauritius in the Indian ocean off the coast of Africa is considered to be the finest quality. The special flavor of the sugar is said to be derived from the sugar cane grown on the volcanic ash. Sugar from Mauritius, is imported from England (see Sources).

Granulations and Varieties of Partially Refined Sugar

Golden castor (fine granulated from the first boiling or crystallization)
I use this sugar for all baking except meringues and fondants where I prefer a pristine white color and sugar syrups where more purity (refinement) helps to avoid crystallization. (However the addition of glucose powder makes it possible to produce a caramel that will not crystallize readily.)
Although the color and therefore amount of molasses varies, I find that the resulting product has a flavor ranging from merely more pure to slightly more flavorful.

Amber crystal (coarse granulated sugar, also from the first crystallization) made by a long period of heating to produce a burnt caramelized sugar liquor and then evaporated and allowed to crystallize over a 4 week period. These crystals are valued in England for their slow dissolving quality in coffee and are sometimes labeled as "coffee sugar."

Demerara: larger granulation of brown sugar, lighter in color because it has less molasses than the Muscovado sugars. It is also available as cubes.

Light Muscovado (light brown), dark Muscovado (dark brown). I value these sugars for their delicious complexity and robustness of flavors they offer to recipes where brown sugar is desired.

Molasses Sugar: dark Muscovado with extra molasses. This very moist sugar, available in the UK, is used in gingerbread to give it extra moist/stickiness and more flavor intensity, fruit cake, mincemeat, and barbecue sauce.

ORGANIC SUGAR
Florida Crystals produces excellent organic and milled cane sugars, similar in granulation to golden caster but consistently paler golden in color. The organic has a slightly milder, more pure aroma but there is no distinguishable difference in flavor. The organic sugar is "certified to be grown, milled and packaged free of any petrochemicals in accordance with earth-friendly methods." This is the (not so) plain vanilla of sugars, offering the pure taste of sweetness with no biterness or hint of molasses. This is my basic baking sugar when I want to sweeten without flavoring.

Sucanat: This is a type of brown sugar in the form of irregularly shaped granules. It is a blend of black strap molasses and cane sugar and is similar in color to light brown or Muscovado sugar but has less moisture. (Non organic Sucanat is also available.)

Wasanbon, a pale beige powder, is a very pure artisanal sugar from a Chinese variety of sugar cane that has been grown organically for the past 200 years only in a very small area on the island of Shikoku in the Tokushima area in Japan. It is very scarce and very expensive. It is sugar that is processed but not refined through lye or any other bleaching. Partial refining is accomplished by hand by rinsing with water, kneading in a linen cloth and compressing it for 3 nights and is then left on trays to drain. Japanese food writer and pastry chef Reiko Akehi reports that it is the kneading process that reduces the sugar to its powdered form. Although the packaging may be identical, there is a variance in grades, some being lighter in color (containing less molasses) and slightly smoother in texture. Chef Akehi says that the very finest quality is in such small supply it is never exported, however, even the "lesser" quality samples tasted were extraordinary. Wasanbon is at its best in recipes that are not cooked as if heated it loses its delicate aroma and flavor. It is said to enhance the flavor of fruit. It melts instantly on the tongue because it is powdered and contains no cornstarch or other anti-caking agent to prevent lumping. It must therefore be stored in an airtight container. Because it dissolves so instantly, it is particularly useful for sprinkling on berries to be consumed immediately because the berries keep all their juice instead of forming a syrup. Wasanbon is used in Japan for making Wagashi candy by combining it with rice flour and compressing it into decorative forms. This is the traditional sweet served during the tea ceremony. Daryl Corti, of Corti Brothers, is importing the famous Okada brand into this country in very limited supplies (see Sources). In addition to using it to accentuate fruit flavor, he also recommends using it on graavlax in place of the usual brown sugar. Wasanban is also available in irregularly shaped cubes for use in coffee, tea, or simply as a candy.

UNREFINED SUGAR
Blocks of highly flavorful unrefined sugar, exported from India are called jaggery. This sugar is produced by boiling down the cane syrup in enormous copper pans. Chemicals are added to solidify the sugar into blocks. The Latin American equivalent of jaggery is called piloncillo and panelacactus

India and Thailand also export the more subtle date palm sugar which is produced from the date palm tree's sap and comes in granular or in cake form. This is not to be confused with date sugar, available in granular form in health food stores, which is made from the actual fruit that is dried and ground.

Maple sugar: This sugar is crystallized by the evaporation of maple sap from the sugar maple tree. It is finely granulated and can be substituted in equal weight (not volume) for all or part of plain granulated sugar even in cake baking without affecting the texture. It consists mostly of sucrose with some invert sugar and ash.

Birch Sugar: This sugar, sold under the name "The Ultimate Sweetener" is extracted from the bark of the birch tree (without destroying the tree). It is 100% birch sugar, also known as xylitol. 1 cup=100 grams which is half the weight of granulated sugar and half the calories. Directions say to use the same amount (volume) as white sugar. The company claims it can be used in place of refined sugar for all baking including cakes and cookies. Though fine granulated, it disappears immediately on the tongue with an oddly cool sensation.

BEET SUGAR VERSUS SUGAR CANE SUGAR
Because both sugars are sucrose and chemically identical, it has been thought that beet and cane sugars perform identically. But some bakers have reported what they suspect to be conflicting results and have concluded that cane sugar is superior. In an article by Miriam Morgan, in the San Francisco Chronicle (March 31, 1999) she hypothesized that the supposed difference may be due to the fact that both sugars are 99.95 percent sucrose. The remaining 0.05 percent is made up of trace differences in minerals and proteins which may account for the difference in performance of the two sugars. Caroline Weil of The Bake Shop in Berkeley reported that her sugar syrups, when made with beet sugar, crystallized into large, chunky granules. Food writer and cookbook author Flo Braker has experienced a similar problem when making sugar syrups in France where beet sugar is prevalent and has found that the small addition of cream of tartar as interfering agent works well when using the beet sugar for syrups. Food writer and cookbook author Marion Cunningham has found that cakes such as angel food and sponge develop a coarse texture with beet sugar. I personally have not noticed any change in my recipes using refined or partially refined fine granulated sugar and would hypothesize that there are many possible causes for variation. More extensive scientific investigation is required to come to a definitive conclusion.

ALTERNATIVE SUGARS
Isomalt: This chemically modified sugar is classified as a polyvol. It is produced by enzymatic rearrangement of sucrose in two stages. It is odorless, white, crystalline, and low hygroscopic. It does not readily crystallize or caramelize, and also offers reduced calories and mild sweetness (about half the sweetness of sugar). It is useful for piped, pulled, and cast sugar decoration show pieces because it holds up so well, remaining dry and resisting collapse.

Because, like cooked sugar, Isomalt is relatively rigid, for pulling, piping, or shaping, it is recommended that a small amount of water and about 10% glucose are added before boiling it to 340 degrees F..

Dextrose: Is crystallized and powdered corn sugar (glucose) obtained by hydrolyzing cornstarch with acid. It's sweetening power is much lower than sucrose and it does not dissolve as readily when sprinkled on whole berries or the surface of a pie, making it ideal to use for stenciling designs. Pastry chef Andrew Shotts uses it to sprinkle on cut strawberries instead of a jelly glaze to keep them fresh. The sugar dissolves to form a thin glossy film which keeps the berries from drying.

Fructose: Commercial fructose is made by the chemical breakdown of sucrose. Sugar obtained from fruit and from most vegetables is fructose. It's sweetening power is almost double that of sucrose when consumed cold or at room temperature. Fructose is known to enhance fruit flavor.

Malt Sugar or Syrup: Barley malt syrup or powdered malt is used in breads because, unlike sucrose, it does not interfere with gluten develop and because the diastatic variety contains enzymes to convert flour to yeast food. It contributes both flavor and color, however, these enzymes require at least 8 hours to work effectively in the fermenting dough.

Sorbital: A sugar substitute derived from an alcohol found in the skin of ripe berries. cherries, plums. It comes in powder, flakes or granules. It is an anticrystalization agent and is used as a thickener in candies, and as a stabilizer and sweetener in frozen desserts.

GENERAL USES OF SUGAR
Sugar has a wide range of applications in and beyond food preparation including cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. In food its uses are manifold. It contributes to sweetness, viscosity and body and enhances flavor, appearance and texture. It brings out and softens the flavor of starch-containing vegetables such as peas and carrots, and gives them sheen. It also tempers acidity in foods such as tomatoes. It aids in color development (baked goods) and promotes the caramelization of the natural sugar present in onions.) It increases moisture retention (baked goods),increases the boiling point (custards), and lowers the freezing point (ice creams). It assists in emulsification (chocolate, baked goods and ice creams) and fermentation (bread, wine and brewing). It provides stability (egg whites). It delays staling (baked goods), discoloration (fresh fruit) and coagulation (egg cookery). It helps to inhibit mould growth in preserves. It forms varying sizes of crystals in candy making. It tenderizes baked goods such as bread, cookies, pie crust, pastry and cakes by competing with the starch to absorb the liquid by combining with the 2 gluten-forming proteins in the flour to prevent them from forming gluten. Even if the gluten is already formed, when the sugar is added it will still combine with the proteins and break up the gluten.
How sugar affects texture in baking is especially apparent in cakes. In addition to facilitating the incorporation of air during the creaming of the sugar and the fat, and minimizing the formation of gluten, it also creates tenderness because sugar elevates the temperature at which egg protein coagulates and the starch granules gelatinize, enabling the gas cells to expand more before the batter sets. This creates a more open texture, weakening the cake's structure and making it melt faster in the mouth. (Though a cake high in sugar is more tender, i.e. will fall apart more easily, it will not have as soft a mouth feel.) In a baked cake, sugar also serves to retain moisture.

SUGAR SYRUPS
Sucrose Syrups
Refiner's Syrup: Containing 15 to 18 percent water, this is a delicious by-product of sugar refining. When syrup, after many boilings, ceases to yield crystals it is filtered and concentrated into this golden-colored syrup. The sugars consist of 1 part sucrose to two parts invert which can lead to slightly higher hygroscopicity and also to slightly more rapid coloring when heated. The syrup has an ash content of 1.3% which has a very significant crystallization inhibiting effect. In most instances it can be used interchangeably with light corn syrup, offering a more mellow and intriguing flavor. In industry it is used to flavor dark corn syrup. Tate and Lyle, a British company, packages it as Lyle's Golden Syrup.

Molasses: Containing 24 percent water, unsulfured molasses has the best flavor because it is refined from the concentrated juice of sugar cane. The sulfured variety is usually a byproduct of sugar making and tastes of the residues of sulfur dioxide introduced during the sugar making process. A cup of molasses is the equivalent of about 3/4 cup of sugar in sweetness. Blackstrap Molasses is the most concentrated form of molasses produced during the third and final centrifuging of the raw sugar crystals. It is therefore the darkest and most bitter. The dark color is partially due to the caramelization of the remaining sugars during repeated reboilings of the syrup.

Black Treacle: Containing 18 percent water, this dark, thick liquid is obtained from the residual molasses which is drained from the molds used in the sugar refining process. The flavor of molasses varies considerably depending on the source and origin of the raw sugar. It is generally considered too bitter or pronounced for culinary use but by blending with other intermediate refinery liquors and then evaporated and filtered it is valued in the U.K. for baking and the confectionery where a rich flavor, dark color, and moist texture are required such as in gingerbread and fruit cakes, and liquorice, which contains 20% or more treacle for flavor, moisture and sheen. As it contains only about 65% sugars and 4 to 9 percent minerals, it is far less sweet than sugar. It is considered to be of a higher quality than molasses. (It is a good source of iron, containing more than spinach and also calcium, containing more than milk. it is also high in potassium.)

OTHER SYRUPS
Corn Syrup: Containing 24 percent water, corn syrup is obtained by partial hydrolysis of cornstarch by acid, alkaline or enzymatic catalysts. Fructose is added to prevent crystallization. It is susceptible to fermentation if contaminated, so care should be taken not to return any unused portion to the bottle. Fermented corn syrup has a sour taste and should be discarded. If used in low concentration, corn syrup has, by volume, half the sweetening power of sucrose but in high concentration is about equal. It can be used interchangeably with refiner's syrup but is more flavor neutral.

Glucose: Containing 15 to 19.7 percent water, is an invert sugar found in many plants and in great abundance in corn. It is also susceptible to fermentation if contaminated. Glucose browns at a lower temperature than other sugars. Glucose contains a high amount of dextrins(which break down starch). Glucose is highly effective in preventing crystallization and is also useful to increase the pliability of molten sugar mixtures for pulling and shaping without cracking and breaking. Glucose is also available as a powder, containing 95% solids and only 50% sweetness and is effective to prevent crystallization in ice cream while reducing sweetness by replacing some of the sugar. It is also useful for preventing crystallization in caramel syrups by adding about 4% the weight of the sugar.(Source: Patisfrance)

Grape Syrup: This new import from Italy is pure fructose in liquid form. It works well to sweeten fruit, particularly for fruit salad. Source (Albert Uster)

Trimoline: Containing about 25 percent water. Invented in Alsace, it is produced from beets, and is made up of 22% invert and 78% solids. It is used in sponges, ganache, ice cream, and anything high in fat because it emulsifies the fat by breaking it down into smaller particles. It has a sweetening power of 128%.

Sorghum Syrup: Containing 23 percent water, is obtained by the concentration of the juice of the sugar sorghum.

Maple Syrup: Containing 23 percent water is obtained by the concentration of the sap of the maple tree.

Agave Syrup: Containing 23 to 25 percent water is a golden or a neutral syrup, produced from organically grown blue agave cactus. The golden variety has a slight taste of mescal. Because it is fructose, it's sweetening power is higher than sucrose when not heated above 120°F at which point it also begins to color. Unlike fructose sweeteners that are produced chemically, the fructose is separated by an enzymatic process and then evaporated to the desired consistency. It is used to make beverages such as tequila and in soft drinks, and is noted as being more tolerable for some diabetics.

Stevia: a syrup produced from an herb in Mexico is available both in powder and liquid form and is approximately double the sweetness of sucrose. It is also tolerated by some diabetics and available in Health Food Stores.

Honey: Containing 17.2 percent water, is the nectar of plants gathered, modified, stored, and concentrated by honey bees. It is made up of levulose (fructose) and dextrose (glucose). Honey has many sources, such as borage, buckwheat, avocado, thyme, clover and its flavor varies accordingly.

PERCENTAGE OF WATER CONTAINED IN SUGAR AND SUGAR SYRUPS
white sugar: 0.5 %
maple sugar: 8%
brown sugar: 2.1%
malt, dried: 5.2%
agave syrup: 24%
corn syrup: 24%
glucose: 15 to 19.7%
honey: 17.2%
maple syrup: 23%
molasses: 24%
refiner's syrup: 15 to 18%
sorghum: 23%
black treacle: 18%

MAKING SUGAR SYRUPS
When making a sugar syrup for Italian meringue or classic buttercream, for example, the sugar is concentrated to produce a supersaturated solution from a saturated one. A saturated sugar solution contains the maximum amount of sugar possible at room temperature without precipitating out into crystals. A supersaturated sugar solution contains more sugar than the water can dissolve at room temperature. Heating the solution enables the sugar to dissolve. Cold water is capable of holding double its weight in sugar, but by heating it more sugar can dissolve in the same amount of water. A sugar solution begins with sugar, partially dissolved in at least one-third its weight of cold water. It is stirred continuously until boiling, at which time all the sugar is dissolved. If sugar crystals remain on the sides of the pan they should be washed down with a wet pastry brush. The solution is now considered supersaturated and, to avoid crystallization, must no longer be stirred.

As the water evaporates, the temperature of the solution rises and the density increases. Concentration of the syrup is dependent on the amount of water left after evaporation. The temperature of the syrup indicates the concentration. As long as there is a lot of water in the syrup, the temperature does not rise much above the boiling point of the water. But when most of the water has boiled away, the temperature can now rise dramatically, passing through various stages (see below) and eventually rising to the temperature of melted sugar (320°F.) when all the water is gone.

Concentration can also be measured by density using a saccharometer or Baumé sugar weight-scale. A Baumé scale is graduated from 0 to 44° and corresponds in a direct relationship to the degrees Fahrenheit or Centigrade. The degree of evaporation can also be measured by consistency by dropping a small amount of the syrup into ice water.

Supersaturated solutions are highly unstable and recrystallization can occur from agitation or even just by standing unless the solution was properly heated in the first place. The use of an "interfering agent" such as invert sugar (a little more than one-fourth the weight of the granulated sugar), butter, cream of tartar, or citric acid helps keep the solution stable by interfering with the crystalline structure formation. This is useful when the solution will be used in a way that will involve repeatedly dipping into it, such as for making spun sugar.

As melted sugar reaches higher temperatures, many chemical changes begin to occur. The sugar cannot start to caramelize until all the water is evaporated. As it starts to caramelize, its sweetening power decreases. At this point, when all the water has evaporated, stirring will not cause the sugar to crystallize. The addition of a significant amount of an ingredient, such as nuts, can lower the temperature considerably and this will cause crystallization to occur instantly if no interfering agent was used.

Caramel is extremely difficult to make in humid weather because sugar is highly hygroscopic (attracts water). The moisture in the air will make the caramel sticky.

A ½ cup sugar makes ¼ cup of caramel (plus the residue that clings to the pot). If pulverized, it returns to its original volume

When sugar syrup has been prepared in advance, it is sometimes necessary to check the exact quantity of sugar and water it contains. It is important to know that the Baumé reading in a cold solution measures slightly higher than the same solution when hot.

Another variant that affects density reading is altitude. Because water boils at a lower temperature as altitude increases (there is less air pressure weighing on top of the water to prevent it from changing from liquid into vapor), there will be a different temperature for the same concentration of sugar syrup at different altitudes. For each increase of 500 feet in elevation, syrup should be cooked to a temperature 1°F. lower than the temperature called for at sea level. If readings are taken in Celsius, for each 900 feet of elevation cook the syrup to a temperature 1°C. lower than called for at sea level. These adjustments should be made up to 320°F., the melting point of sugar. Altitude does not change this.

TEMPERATURES AND TESTS FOR SUGAR SYRUP
215°F. Thread: The sugar may be pulled into brittle threads between the fingers. This is used for candy, fruit liqueur making, and some icings.
220 to 222°F. Pearl: The thread formed by pulling the liquid sugar may be stretched. When a cool metal spoon is dipped into the syrup and then raised, the syrup runs off in drops which merge to form a sheet. This is used for making jelly.
234 to 240°F. Soft ball: Syrup dropped into ice water may be formed into a ball which flattens on removal from the water. This is used for extra light Italian meringue, fondant, fudge, peppermint creams, and classic buttercream.
244 to 250°F. Firm ball: Syrup dropped into ice water may be formed into a firm ball which does not flatten on removal from the water. This is used for light Italian meringue, caramels, nougats, and soft toffees.
250 to 266°F. Hard ball: Syrup dropped into ice water may be formed into a hard ball which holds its shape on removal but is still plastic. This is used for toffee, divinity, marshmallows, and popcorn balls.
270 to 290°F. Soft crack: Syrup dropped into ice water separates into thread which are hard but not brittle. This is used for Italian meringue for piping elaborate designs, butterscotch and taffy.
300 to 310°F. Hard crack: Syrup dropped into ice water separates into hard, brittle threads. This is used for brittle and for glacéed fruits.
320°F. Clear liquid: The sugar liquefies (all moisture is removed) and can start browning. This is used for making barley sugar (a candy).
338°F. Brown liquid: The liquefied sugar turns brown. This is used for light caramel.
356°F. Medium brown liquid: The liquefied sugar darkens. This is used for praline, spun sugar, caramel cages, and nougatine.
374°F. Dark brown liquid: The liquefied sugar darkens further. This is used for intensely flavored caramel cream sauce and as a coloring agent for sauces.
410°F. Black Jack: The liquefied sugar turns black and then decomposes.
Caramel
Different temperatures, ranging from 350°F. to 380°F. are suitable for different types of caramel. When making spun sugar, for example, too light a color would produce a ghostly effect and too dark a color would produce a brassy color when spun. When making a caramel sauce, however, 380°F. will offer a deeper more intense flavor. Over 380°F. and the caramel becomes unpleasantly bitter.

Recommended Temperatures for Caramel:
Pale amber 350°F to 360°F for a caramel cage.
Medium amber 360°F. to 370°F. for spun sugar.
Deep amber 370°F. to 380°F. for praline powder, caramels or caramel sauce. If using partially refined sugar, 360°F.

Life on the Sugar Trail
When I agreed to write this story for Food Arts, I thought it would be easy and delightful to compile and share my knowledge of sugar resulting from years of work and investigation in pastry and from my work as president of the former sugar committee for the International Association of Culinary Professionals. But I soon discovered that what I knew was merely the tip of a giant sugar cube. Not a day went by without some fascinating new fact or discovery of some new and unlikely sugar source that compelled me to call my editor Jim Poris just to share the excitement. I am grateful to him for his enthusiastic encouragement, not to mention the generous time and space he felt this story deserved. For months it has become my primary fascination and focus.
I saved interviewing the chefs (the most fun part) for the end only to discover, however, that by virtue of their experience, knowledge and creativity, the end was no where in sight! There is far more information in this piece than I had ever anticipated, but for me it is more than ever a beginning. I now realize that using only refined and partially refined sugars was like being color blind. Sugar, the one ingredient that defines dessert, was being treated like just a pretty face, over-looking its mind and character. I have been missing out on an extraordinary spectrum of flavors. A new world has opened to me and will affect my future baking and cooking profoundly. It will take years to test and investigate all the possibilities. I hope that you also will be inspired to try some of these different sugars and that the information offered will make better bakers and cooks of us all.

CHEF INTERVIEWS
Over the past several years, I have been using partially refined sugars in baking, replacing refined light and dark brown sugars with their less refined counterparts, and replacing refined granulated sugar with the partially refined castor sugar. The only time I find refined sugar preferable is for meringues or fondant where I want the pure white color or caramel where I want to prevent crystallization caused by "impurities."

Chris Broberg, pastry chef at Lespinasse, New York City, associates the more flavorful unrefined and partially refined sugars with the more intense desserts of Fall and Winter. He uses light muscovado in shortbread, and dark muscovado for pear tart. In Summer, Broberg infuses nepotela (an herb in the marjoram family) in a sugar syrup which enables it to retain its flavor, and roasts chopped strawberries drizzled with the syrup. He serves them topped with a strawberry tuile, filled with strawberry sorbet and topped with a sprig of nepotela. On the side is sliced strawberries topped with a piece of pistachio shortbread topped with a piece of crème brulée.

Mary Chech: Professor at the CIA Greystone prefers granular to superfine sugar for decorative work such as for rolling truffles or making candied rose petals, because it has less of a tendency to melt and is more visual. Chech has used brown rice syrup (converted starch from rice made from ground rice, cooked to a slurry) in place of honey, molasses or other syrups because it is less sweet with a mild flavor. It's an invert sugar so it makes desserts somewhat denser and keeps them moister.

Claudia Fleming: Pastry chef, Grammercy Tavern, New York City, uses mostly refined sugar for baking but enjoys the earthy, rich and complex flavors of Muscovado sugar for Fall and Winter desserts such as her Gingerbread Ice Cream. She finds that the molasses in the sugar produces a creamier texture because it lowers the freezing point.

Linda Forrestal: journalist for the Washington Times and author of a book on Sucanat, uses half Sucanat and half granulated date sugar (made from dried dates) for her pumpkin pie.

Andreas Galliker: Executive Chef for Albert Uster uses glucose for sugar boiling and show pieces because it is stronger. Galliker says it doesn't have a tendency to crystallize so he doesn't have to pull it as much to get the shine. He also says it is cleaner so there is less residue to skim off. He prefers their brand which is 100% potato starch and 45% dextrose. Glucose made from potatoes tends to prevent foaming and boiling over.

Michele Gayer: Former pastry chef at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, finds molasses and partially refined sugars have more character, depth and full body than refined sugar. She likes to make a molasses spice cake for Fall because the colder weather and warmer flavors go well together.

Pierre Hermé: Pastry chef in Paris and New York City, loves working with different sugars especially Muscovado and palm sugar.

Raji Jallepalli: Chef/Owner of Restaurant Raji in Memphis, Tennessee feels that jaggery is to refined sugar what red wine is to white. She values jaggery for its more interesting flavor dimension which she describes as dirty/murky like rum. Among her many uses of jaggery are a salmon glaze, and a blue cheese crème brulée also flavored with rose water.

Steve Klc, of chef@pastryarts.com, Washington, D.C. treats sugar as a spice equal in weight to vanilla in importance. He likes the "dirty, murky" flavors of unrefined sugars, equating them to rum. Klc also uses raw sugar cane juice for granité intermezzos but cautions that it ferments quickly giving it a short shelf life. He is substituting unrefined sugar in Indian desserts based on French preparation. He uses it in dessert soups finding it adds more depth of flavor. He also makes a gelee of tamarind and jaggery, cuts it into cubes and places it in cool soups such as tomato and coconut cream soup. He enjoys the nice surprise of flavor intensity and sweetness. He also reports that if drying out jaggery or brown sugar for about 10 minutes at 350°F. or until the texture of granulated sugar, it caramelizes beautifully. He then grinds it in a spice mill, sprinkles it on custard and brulées it under the salamander. He employs this technique for his signature dessert a milk chocolate chai crème brulée. Klc likes the tan color and granule size of date sugar for coating pate de fruit, especially mango, apricot and passion fruit.

Jay McCarthy, formerly chef at Cazwellas in Telluride, Colorado, likes to use agave syrup in sauces that are not heated so as to maintain its subtle floral quality. He also uses piloncillo to great advantage as a flavor accent in his Morita Sauce.

Andrew McLaughlin, pastry chef at Coyote Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico: feels that sugar alone is not very delicious so it is critical that it is used as a counterpoint with acid. He believes that sugar is one element of the flavor profile, not the whole one. McLaughlin uses 50/50 dark brown sugar and refined for caramel. He takes the caramel to different degrees (shades) for different flavor effects, for example, for apricot tart tatin he uses a lighter caramel to complement better the acidity of the apricots. In the Fall, he likes to use maple sugar for a maple créme brulee made in a baby pumpkin shell, using dried brown sugar for the caramel. He substitutes molasses for egg in short dough for tart which makes it tender and crumbly, adding pinon for a butternut filling for the Indian Market day menus. He also makes a molasses sorbet. McLaughlin uses glucose in ice creams with high water content such as strawberry or peach to prevent crystallization without excessive sweetening. (He cooks the fruit with the glucose).

McLaughlin's tangy/caramel-sweet Cajeta, which he uses both as ice cream and a dessert sauce, is made with half goat's milk & half cow's milk, a little caramelized sugar and cornstarch. This gets reduced 8 hours, caramelizing the milk sugars. For ice cream, he uses half ice cream base and half cajeta, sometimes adding a little sugar and cream to round out and balance the flavors.

Mark Miller, chef/owner of Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico: favors piloncillo for desserts, sweet tomalleys, dry rubs, marinades, and fruited mole. He states that it has more affinity for stronger flavors, offering more flavor dimensions rather than just more sweetness. If fruit is not ripe enough and you add more sugar to accentuate the fruit flavor, with refined sugar it separates out from the main flavor and the sugar is tasted first. The cruder types of sugar give more flavor compression and better integration. Miller also appreciates agave, explaining that at high altitude it is valuable for its ability to hold moisture in baked goods such as muffins, breads, brownies and cookies. He also uses agave in cocktails. He suggests the more flavorful golden variety for use with corn.

Wayne Nish, chef/owner of March in New York City: never uses refined sugar except for baking. He uses palm sugar and other partially refined sugars in chutneys and savories because he feels that refined sugar is in your face sweetness whereas unrefined has a roundness of flavor to balance acidic or astringent elements. This makes it possible to add less than when using refined sugar.
Nish is known for his layers of flavors, He uses the "tarq" method in which oil and dry spices are heated until smoking. The spices are removed and oil placed in a clean pan with palm sugar. Meat is then sautéed to brown it and then vegetables added to build up the stew and layers of flavor.

François Payard, chef/owner of Payard Patisserie and Bistrot in New York City, uses refined sugar, both granulated and confectioners for most of his baking and Isolmalt for pulled sugar and display pieces because it is so resistant to humidity. He uses a coarser granulation of sugar for his fruit jellies because it does not melt as easily. He also uses trimoline for fondant, truffles, and praline filling, because it keeps them very moist without adding ingredients containing excess sugar or richness such as cocoa butter.

Jacquy Pfeiffer, chef/owner of The French Pastry School in Chicago: Uses many types of sugar. He values turbinado for bruleeing because it has more flavor and larger crystals and Isomalt for display pieces. He uses Trimoline, glucose and sorbital to prevent crystallization (see Caramel in recipe section). Pfeiffer uses a small amount of sorbital in caramel mou (soft caramel) to help thicken it, lecithin to emulsify it, baking soda to help mix all the ingredients, and salt to bring out flavor and cut down the sweetness. He uses glucose powder to prevent crystallization and cut sweetness in ice cream (6% of the total weight) and cuts the sugar.

Julie Sahni, cookbook author, never uses refined sugar because "nothing on this planet comes close to jaggery." She explains that jaggery can be sugar cane jaggery or date palm jaggery. Jaggery means natural solidified sugar juice. In India it is used as fragrant flavor and not just a sweetener. Its flavor is subtle and floral with a delicate lingering taste akin to a very high quality vanilla. It becomes almost fudge-like when cooked with milk. Sahni's rice pudding relies only on jaggery and a hint of cardamom for flavor.

Comments

Hi Eduardo,
We recommend using a instant-read thermometer to accurately determine when the caramel has reached the correct temperature.
What that temperature is depends on who's recipe you are using, what sugar, and what state the author is using for determining the color.
We state the following temperatures for granulated sugar and water based caramels:
pale amber 340 to 359 F
deep amber 360 to 379 F
dark amber 380 to 400 F

Other sugars like brown sugar or turbinado will reach the correct temperatures at lower temperatures.
You may want to check with the author of the recipe for her/his temperatures.
Rose & Woody

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Eduardo Semedo
Eduardo Semedo
05/ 3/2014 11:01 AM

I have a bit of dificulty in making a good caramel for a 'creme caramel'. Many times the caramel turns out to be bitter. Also, its hard getting the right consistency for a good 'sauce' when the creme caramel is inverted on a plate to be served.

What would be an ideal temperature for making this type of caramel?

Thanks

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Dave
03/19/2013 12:35 AM

Hi Dave,
We ask are you using Dextrose in the form of powdered dextrose or glucose or liquid glucose which corn syrup is a viable substitute?
Rose always recommends, you should always make the recipe with exactly the same ingredients as called for by the author's recipe to establish your control. From there you can experiment by substituting one ingredient or adjusting one technique at a time to obtain results that match the control or to your preferences. We recommend that you contact the author for her/his suggestions, especially if you have a reason for not using Dextrose.
Rose & Woody

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Hello, I wanted to know if there was a substitute for Dextrose or anything close. I am using this in a baking recipe and regular granulated sugar does not seem to be working. Do you think honey would work? Okay, thank you.

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Hi Martin,
We as many others will brush nuts with corn syrup, but we do not have answer for a spray solution.
We suggest that you post this on the Forums section, which will give your request more visibility for our international baking community to give suggestions to this subject.
Rose & Woody

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Hi Josh,
We generally recommend glucose as a substitute for corn syrup in frostings and fondant, but not for baked goods.
In fondant, glucose can be substituted with a increase the water.
May we ask what is your reasoning for substituting glucose for sugar?
Rose & Woody

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Josh Mervis
Josh Mervis
01/30/2013 12:33 AM

If I want to use glucose in baking, what is the substitution ratio with regular (granulated) sugar?

thanks

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Martin Devaney
Martin Devaney
01/28/2013 02:13 PM

Hi would like to know, if it is possible to create a sugar solution which could be sprayed onto seeds/nuts in order to secure a savoury topping and if so, what combination of ingredients would be needed.
Thanks Martin

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from jennifer
01/26/2013 11:08 PM

Hi Jen,
We have not seen anything that can be added to spun sugar to keep it from beading with humidity if placed in a humid environment. Rose's research and testing for The Cake Bible and Rose's Heavenly Cakes, and other noted author's state that spun sugar needs to be either stored for a couple of weeks in an air tight container at room temperature in a very low humidity or frozen for several months in freezer weight freezer bags. We suggest that you if want to surround the croquenbouche with spun sugar that you make the spun sugar within a few hours of serving the dessert in a room with low humidity. You can also make decorations in spun sugar several days earlier, store them airtight, and then mount them on the croquenbouche.
Rose & Woody

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Hello, I am wondering if there is anything I can add to my spun sugar to keep it from beading up with humidity. I made a croquenbouche, so it needs refrigeration. I left some spun sugar out of the fridge for a test, and that too beaded up and started to melt.

thanks!
Jen

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Polly
01/ 9/2013 04:39 PM

Hi Polly,
The recipes that include glucose as an ingredient are recipes, such as fondant, that benefit from corn sugar and where they are likely to be used in a commercial setting as glucose is a more concentrated than corn syrup. Most of these recipes are for frostings and glazes. We have not seen it give favorable results for corn sugar products as a substitute for granulated or Baker's sugar as stated in the above posting. You may want to check blogs and websites that are dedicated to alternatives to refined sugar for baking.
Rose & Woody

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Hello Rose. I knew you would be the one to ask with a scientific question about sweeteners in baking! Your Cake Bible is well-worn in my house; had to finally buy it myself instead of calling my friend every year in a baking panic so that she could read to me out of hers, and use her many years of baking with your book experience to help me out of difficulties. I am searching for a way to still bake sweet items while limiting or eliminating fructose. Somehow I have in mind that if I buy glucose by itself, it will be better. I know that you ask for glucose specifically in many particular recipes, but is there a way I can substitute it for Baker's Sugar in muffins, scones, cakes, etc? Thank you in advance for your help, and for being such a Trusted Source.

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Chloball
09/ 3/2012 12:23 AM

Hi Chloball,
We have not worked with brown sugar syrup to beable to give you an answer. We suggest contacting some manufacturers of the product for their advice.
Rose & Woody

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I have a question:
Brown rice syrup- how does it help prevent crystallization in a sugary syrup like in making lollipops? This is to help me with background information for my science fair project.

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Hi Marcia,
We have not worked with sparkling sugar in combination with buttercreams or fondants. We suggest you post this on the Forums section for others to respond or contact Wilton.
Rose & Woody

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Marcia D'Alba
Marcia D'Alba
06/17/2012 10:55 AM

Rose, First, thank you for writing such comprehensive books - I am a loyal fan of yours. Secondly, I would like to make my daughter's wedding cake and cover it with sparkling sugar. I understand that you made a wedding cake for "The Knot" magazine in 2006 but cannot find a picture of it to guide me. HELP! Do you have a picture that you could email to me? My email is Emeraldet@AOL.com. Also, what would work better under the sparkle sugar - fondant or buttercream? Thank you so much.
Marcia

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Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Nicole
06/13/2012 12:32 AM

nicole, check out india tree on line. dean and delucca also carries their line.

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Where can you buy golden caster sugar in the US?

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Wendy
03/22/2012 12:07 AM

Hi Wendy,
We suspect that most likely the chocolate was improperly stored.

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Rose, I recently had some local, small batch chocolate made with cinnamon and cayenne but once it started melting in my mouth, I noticed the texture was very granular. I believe it is the sugar crystals (rather than the Kosher salt). Is this to be expected? I wasn't sure if this was part of some "artisan" quality the chef was going for (and therefore I just a chocolate boor) or if something happenned in production. I miss the smooth texture!

REPLY

Hi Dawn,
If your technique has not changed, we would think that it is the sugar. Are you using a different brand from previous years?

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I have used an American buttercream recipe for years with no problems, but twice now, within a short time, my buttercream has gone gritty (big crystals) during the beating process. I'm talking powdered sugar and fat; no cooking. How can this keep happening? Can it be the sugar, which I noticed is marked "pure powdered sugar" instead of pure cane sugar? I thought the problems with other sugar sources (ie. beet)applied only to caramelizing. Help please!

REPLY

Very reasonably put, Rose. Thank you.

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Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Michael
07/20/2011 03:10 PM

michael, i like to avoid going on line in regard to the shifting sands of health issues. i've seen them come and go through the years doing 100% about-faces. my philosophy is moderation in all things. and personally, i prefer the least processing of ingredients as necessary for preservation and quality as processing changes the basic nature and often not to advantage.

REPLY

Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Susan Mercier
07/20/2011 02:30 PM

susan, i'm sorry but i don't know of any such product.

REPLY

Dear Rose,

Wow- this is an awesome resource for sugars- what they are, how they're produced, and how they work in baking.
Out of curiosity, where do you come down on the issue of sugar consumption in relation to health?

many thanks-
Michael

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Susan Mercier
Susan Mercier
04/ 3/2011 05:55 AM

Hello - do you know where I can purchase non-melting powdered sugar without artificial flavor or hydrogenated fats? I found a place in the UK but they do not export it to the USA. Very discouraging. I appreciate any help you could offer.

REPLY

Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Lynda Milne
07/19/2010 06:22 PM

try pastry chef central wwwpastrychef.com 561-999=9483

REPLY

Lynda Milne
Lynda Milne
07/12/2010 08:28 AM

Hi
Could you advise me of where I can get hold of some Isomalt crystals please

REPLY

Hi all,
I have been wandering through the labyrinthian blog on sugar that goes back to 2007. I have come upon Florida Crystals organic. If I am correct, I recall Rose saying she uses Florida Crystals for much baking, and always keeps it on hand. I am about to bake some yellow cakes, and wonder if that sugar is suitable to use for this baking? Thanks!

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lowering the sugar will alter the texture in two ways--it will make it less tender and also less airy. increasing the fat will make it more tender but more dense so you should try increasing the leavening a little. it will probably be necessary to experiment a bit. my recipes are formulated to use equal weight sugar and flour so you can judge from that if you compare the recipe you have to a similar one that i have in the cake bible.

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When lowering the amount of sugar in an otherwise perfect cake recipe to make it less sweet, what would be the best way to maintain the cake structure and moisture? Should I increase the amount of fat (more butter or cream)?

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Here' another option - You can easily make your own superfine sugar by processing granulated sugar in your food processor.

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Terry, you can buy superfine sugar at Bulk Barn. I think they have it under fruit sugar.

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Where can I find superfine sugar in Toronto. Or is there a different name beside bar or castor sugar. I'm able to find just about any other name of sugar expect for the ones listed above.

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I am not really crazy about the idea of using bleached flour. So maybe I will try to mix a little longer and see if that is my problem.

Could I also decrease the butter without altering the formula drastically? Although when I compare it to other recipes the % butter is not any higher.

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Bianca, this is what Rose had to say about using unbleached flour in cakes:

"the reason that it is essential to use bleached flour is that unbleached has particles that are smooth and round and the butter slips right through them and lands in a gummy layer at the bottom, causing the cake to fall in the center while cooling. the bleaching process, however, roughens these flour particles enabling them to hold the butter in even suspension."

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Bianca, my guess would be that there is butter in the bottom because you are using unbleached flour. The unbleached flour can't hold the butter in suspension as well as bleached.

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I am using unbleached AP flour. I actually thought I might not be mixing enough. I also noticed last night that the bottoms of the liners were saturated with butter. And I have read that may be due to not mixing the ingredients well enough.

All you ever hear is..."DON'T OVERMIX THE BATTER!!". So maybe I got nervous and undermixed.

I use a KA and add the flour and milk while on setting 2 and continue to mix just until it is all mixed in. So maybe that isn't enough.

REPLY

Maybe it would help to strengthen the structure a bit -- are you using cake flour in this recipe? If so, you could replace part of it with bleached all-purpose flour instead. You could also try beating the batter just a bit longer to develop the gluten more. You don't want to go overboard or you'll have tough cupcakes...

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Bianca Downs
Bianca Downs
06/ 5/2008 12:26 PM

Thanks!

I have reviewed that post as well, but I have already decreased the BP twice - and now just looking for other possible culprits - from 3.5 tsps to 3.0 and then to 2.5. I didn't see a dramatic difference from 3.0 to 2.5, but I am going to experiment a little more.

They dome perfectly when I am taking them out of the oven, then flatten out when cooling. But there was a visible difference between 3.5 and 2.5. So there is hope!! So I think I will keep decreasing and see what happens.

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Bianca,
There was a lot of discussion about this issue on the blog--you can find it by searching. It doesn't have to do with sugar, but the amount of leavening if I remember correctly--and also how much you fill the cups. I think the coarseness of sugar has more effect on texture--the finer the sugar, the finer the crumb.

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Bianca Downs
Bianca Downs
06/ 5/2008 08:07 AM

UPDATE...I used white granulated sugar last night and they still didn't dome. Guess I will go back to the FL Crystals.

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Bianca Downs
Bianca Downs
06/ 4/2008 11:48 AM

Marcy is the greatest and coincidentally I have a question regarding one of her recipes for cupcakes. I use the Florida Crystals for baking but her recipes call for regular granulated white sugar.

I recently made a ton of her vanilla, devil's food and red velvet cupcakes for a birthday party...AND THEY WERE AWESOME!! But I didn't get the dome like I should have.

We, Marcy and I, have pinpointed a couple reasons for that...my oven is too hot and they were "done" before actually setting, too much baking powder, cooled down too fast, etc. Then I started thinking about what else I did differently and thought it might be the sugar.

Is it possible since the Florida Crystals is a finer sugar than white granulated that there were more air bubbles which weakened the structure and caused the dome to fall? (BTW - They had a perfect dome while in the oven and a few seconds after coming out, but then ended up flat after cooling.) Marcy reports shw hasn't tested the Florida Crystals, so she couldn't really make a determination, and I really couldn't find a definitive answer online.

Am I onto something? Or can I safely substitute one for the other without compromising structure/stability?

If this may have caused the dome to flatten, how can I modify the recipe in order to continue to use the FL Crystals? Less sugar? More flour?

Thanks in advance for all your help.

REPLY

the one person i'm sure can help you doesn't need any challah donations: marcy goldman of betterbaking.com! she lives in montreal by the way.

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This is one fascinating site!

I bake challah each week for the Sabbath, and if I do say so myself, have gotten quite excellent. However, I am trying to duplicate a topping for challah that in these parts is referred to as "Montreal challah."

It's a sort of flaky, crispy, crinkley white sugar topping, with a few raisins sprinkled artfully about. I don't think it's baked onto the bread as it stays pure white, but then again, the raisins are a bit crunchy, so they obviously have been baked. The sugar has to melt, but it stays crunchy and flaky and pure white.

I tried Dutch Crunch---which was horrible--and I've been experimenting with giving the loaves an egg wash when they come out of the oven, sugaring, and then washing again. Nothing comes close.

Coarse sanding sugar won't work, I don't think, because it retains its shape. I have even written to the bakery in Montreal to get the secret!

Anybody who can help me solve this conundrum gets a free challah!

Many thanks.

Meems

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Joan, Here's a recipe for Banoffee Pie that really works. I think maybe the brown sugar is your problem - try caster or superfine instead.
http://www.banoffee.co.uk/banoffee/recipe5.html. Good luck!

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Joan, maybe you can add corn syrup to prevent the crystallization.

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Hi, I am trying to make banoffee, a Carmel dessert. The only three ingredients are butter, brown sugar , and sweetened condensed milk. All of this gets cooked together on the stove top. If I let it go to long in an effort to achieve a deep golden color for fullest flavor the sugar begins to crystallize when it cools. It should be served slightly warn so it's gooey and has a smooth texture. Pure heaven when it's done right. Any suggestions as to what I can do or something that can be added to help achieve this? Thanks for your help.

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kels, i predict you will have a very successful career and very fulfilling life. that you took the time and made the effort to give me this feedback. there are many talented people in this world but not so many who embrace the niceties of life and they tell much about a person's character and will go a long way!

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hey rose, i am doing a science fair project and my theme is: does a cookie aste better with raw sugar or refined whit sugar. I was looking through this page and it helped me alot because we have to write a reserch paper and oneof my main paragraphs is why do people use refined sugar more that raw sugar, and this has helped me a lot! Thanks!!!! I think that this web site could be usefull to anyone who likes to cook!


P.S. i added this to my favorites!!!! =)

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Hi

You could try blue agave syrup. I know it is used to replace sugar in baking. I don't know about candy making.


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William Klaus
William Klaus
02/10/2008 01:29 AM

I am trying to make goat's milk fudge, and I would like to find out what I can use in place of sugar. The fudge must NOT have any cows milk in it.

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Hi,

I have been making a soft candy wrapped with paper into many different decoration. However after a couple of days, the color or sugar of the candy stained onto the paper? is there anyway that I can prevent the staining without using plastic cover? I also make chocolate and sugar decoration, How do you keep chocolate from melting , as i live in humid and hot region? Thank you.

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yes but you'll need to use a lower temperature a little as it browns more quickly than corn syrup. the flavor is great so it's well worth experimenting.

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hi, could anyone tell me if I can substitute British Golden Syrup for Light Corn Syrup in things that matter, like candy?

Many thanks

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response from aileen:

Hi Rose---thanks for such a quick response. Here's an update:

After trying 2 more batches today...I believe that the culprit is stirring
too much. Last night, I stirred constantly and got crystallized sandy
toffee instead of crisp. The next batch I made, I only stirred occasionally
(just like the recipe says!!!)...and it turned out fine. So mostly, I just
left it alone after coming to a boil. Adding the soda/vanilla at the end
seems a bit risky--I felt that I almost lost a batch to the agitation factor
in that last step. But alas---I have achieved the quality you intended!

thanks! Happy Holidays!
Aileen

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it's really hard to diagnose this long distance as i haven't had the same problem. it could be the thermometer even though it's new--there are a lot of poor quality thermomemters out there! soft and chewy means it still has water in it, i.e. was not brought to as high a temperature as necessary.
post this on the forums and see if anyone else has had this problem and if they found a different solution.

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I've pasted below a comment and response for reference. I have the same issue...love the MBCT, but have much difficulty getting it "crisp"; I oten get a crystallized, crumbly toffee. I have had enough success (50% maybe?), that I keep making it (3-4 years in a row now). I understand that stirring too much can be problematic, so I am very meticulous and not working in a humid environment. (California early winter...dry as a bone.) But it's very frustrating that I can't seem to detect the difference from one batch to the next and get consistently good results. What would happen if I eliminated the baking powder?


(previous comment from another writer)
I love your Mahogany Butter Crunch Toffee, however most times it comes out soft and chewy rather than hard and cruncy? what am I doing wrong? I am very careful about the temperature, even bought a new thermometer which reads the same as my first.

Posted by: Donna | November 2, 2006 10:45 AM

this could happen if the humidity is high but also both thermometers could be off. try taking it to a slightly higher temperature and i'm sure that will help.

Posted by: Rose Levy Beranbaum | November 2, 2006 10:51 AM

Hello,

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i wouldn't substitute i would just add some sugar! but understand that more sugar will result in a slower rise. (not a bad thing.)

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Back again. The panettone turned out pretty good (for the first time through the recipe). I know I will need a few more tries to get it just perfect, but I agree with a previous poster who thought it could be sweeter. I read in your sugar article that corn syrup (which I used) is not as sweet as sucrose, so I will try to get some Lyle's to try to see if that will be sweeter. I also read in The Bread Bible about the conversions between sugar and honey. I'm wondering what the conversion would be if I wanted to substitute granulated sugar (plus some moisture component?) for the corn syrup? and would this increase the sweetness? or do you recommend against this?

Thanks for all the wonderful recipes and advice!

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karo will be fine though not quite as delicious as lyle's! no adjustment needed.

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Help! I'm gathering the ingredients to make your Panetonne and some other holiday goodies. The only light corn syrup I can find is Karo and it has vanilla added to it. Can I use this? do I need to alter the recipes? or should I make my own corn syrup instead? (No time to order Lyles.) BTW--I also noticed that the store brand of light corn syrup also had salt and some other ingredients in it!
Please advise. Thanks!

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in france where much of beet sugar come from, cane sugar is used in candy making and syrups as many people find beet sugar is more prone to crystallization. i haven't experimented with this as i use cane sugar but suspect there may be more than a grain of truth here! as for cakes, you'd need to do the same cake side-by-side to see if there is a difference. many of the bakers of the bakers dozen west reported coarser texture and off flavor with the beet sugar.

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Debbie - are you referring to the difference between sugar made from beets vs sugar cane? If so, they are chemically identical.

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i don't now what you mean by cane sugar as granulated sugar comes from sugar cane. 1 cup=200 grams/7 ounces.

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Debbie LaMantia
Debbie LaMantia
09/27/2007 10:33 PM

when a recipe calls for granulated sugar I would like to replace with cane sugar. what are the measurement differences? Thanks.

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i haven't made these since i was a kid at school 100 years ago! try googling--maybe someone has come up with a solution.

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Is the something to help caramel stick better to apples? I found that the treats I add to them slid off eventually

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there are a lot more molasses in unrefined sugar. it's always an experiment when you use alternate sugars. if you like the flavor, try baking 25 degrees F. lower and start with one cookie to see how it comes out an how long the baking time will be. it will be slightly longer with a full batch but at least you will know the minimum time to start checking.

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Rose,

Help. Last night I made chocolate chip cookies and, after carefully consulting my Cake Bible, I used organic light brown sugar and unrefined organic sugar. I made two batches and both came out the same - crunchy and over-caramelized. I was sure I could subsitute them for regular white and light brown sugar but clearly, that is not the case. I'm disappointed. What did I do wrong?

This is the recipe I used: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000158.html

Thank you,

marie

PS. I made the NYC subway cake in May of last year, which you may remember: http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2006/03/making_a_cake_in_a_different_s.html

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there's only one frosting i use under fondant and it's the only time i ever use it: shortening and powdered sugar. anything else shows up as bumpy under the fondant.

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on the topic of frosting....any ideas for a meringue-based cream cheese buttercream frosting? I am trying to find a traditional cream cheese flavor to pair with carrot cake that would have the structure and stability of a buttercream... the basic cream cheese/butter/conf sugar combo is proving to be a bit too loosey goosey underneath fondant covered layers. Would it be appropriate to substitute a portion of the unsalted butter in the Mousseline Buttercream with cream cheese? Any thoughts?

sweet regards,
BethAnn :)

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yes, I think the chocolate fondant would love the cocoa butter, I suppose it's a pretty seamless substitution... hope you like the fondant, I'll be eager to hear what you think when you give it a whirl!

sweet regards,
BethAnn :)

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bethann--this is VERY exciting! thanks so much for sharing. i look forward to trying it. and i will add fondant to my next book as it isn't in the upcoming one.
i easily can imagine how wonderful cocoa butter is on the hands!
by the way, wouldn't it be interesting in the chocolate rolled fondant!!!

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Hi again, Rose! It's been a while since we talked white chocolate fondant and I have had a fun time playing with it over the last month - I think I've come upon something I *really* love and wanted to share - your recipes have been so great to work with. So, I have two things, first a new idea for the fondant which stemmed from your talk of cocoa butter content.... I thought, since I'm getting cocoa butter from the white chocolate when I mix fondant with the white chocolate plastique, why not start out the plain fondant recipe with cocoa butter in place of the shortening?... it also gets rid of the partially hydrogenated component. So, in your rolled fondant recipe, I have replaced the shortening with 1oz cocoa butter. My white chocolate plastique recipe is 1lb white chocolate to 1/2c corn syrup. For my white chocolate fondant mixture, I love the taste of a 1:1 ratio of fondant:plastique, but as our first heat wave here in the Bay Area proved last week, that combo was way too squishy in the heat (no a/c here!). So, for now I'm sticking with a really safe 3:1 ratio of fondant:plastique It has a more subtle white chocolate taste but will make it through the summer. As I use it more, maybe I will find that I can go to 2:1, but I'll leave that to a more long-term experimental approach. Added bonus of working with all this cocoa buttery stuff? ...really soft hands! Thanks for your recipes and ideas... can't wait to hear your thoughts.....

sweet regards,
BethAnn :)

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you can substitute freshly squeezed lemon juice or any of the fruit purees or curds in the variations.

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Hi,

I just purchased your Cake Bible and love it. A friend has asked me to make their wedding cake and I was hoping to make the Mousseline Buttercream however I can't use any alchol. What can I use in place of the alcohol?

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i see i've found a kindred spirit!

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...sounds like the way I think about cakes... so much of the fun is in thinking about it, it's almost as if it needs to physically take shape just to get it out of my system, and then it's on to the next! I'll keep you posted on the white chocolate fondant and I need to try your chocolate one, too! ...sweet regards... BethAnn :)

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i'll put it in my next book with credit to you--there's no rolled fondant in this one--wait---there's the fabulous chocolate version in a very dramatic shape!
can you BELIEVE i'm talking about a next book when i'm not even in production with this one!

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Rose,

...well, now I am just about as thrilled as you! I really just love it! As for homemade, nothing beats this... it is such a beautiful medium to work with (and eat!). I am using real white chocolate for the plastique (1lb choc to 1/2 c corn syrup) added to your rolled fondant recipe. Both are so easy to make and the results are well worth it, in taste and cost (I go through a LOT of fondant!). I am still trying to figure out the best proportion of plastique to fondant, I have experimented with 1:1 and as low as 1:5 (by weight). I will post back as I play more...

sweet regards,
BethAnn :)

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offended? i'm THRILLED. what a brilliant idea.i mean the stuff (fondant)is mostly sugar and as long as you're adding white chocolate plastique made with cocoa butter it should improve it's flavor and texture immensely. ARE you using real white chocolate? on second thought, the cocoa butter could make it too firm. do share your recipe--i think this is a fantastic contribution. by the way, albert uster, who has the best commercial rolled fondant called masa grusina or something like that also carries an excellent white chocolate one. but there's nothing like home-made fondant--actually most anything is best home-made--maybe not chocolate! (though i'm meeting with my friend pierrick chouard of vintage chocolate next week to find out more about his exciting new equadorian chocolate made by the farmer's who harvest the beans. this is getting closer to home!

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as for the pastillage, will do!.... thank you!

I have been using your fondant recipe and loving it! I hope you will
not be offended - I've also tried mixing it with varying proportions
of white chocolate plastic and love the taste that it gets, the extra
fat content also makes the resulting fondant very smooth and very
forgiving.... so fun!

thanks again for your response,

sweet regards,
BethAnn :)

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bethann, i suspect the pastillage is not smooth bc your powdered sugar may be lumpy. try sifting it first.

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lore, i think kalustyan in ny carries this kind of sugar. you could try an eastern food supply store where you live as well. i've never had this kind of sugar ferment though i supposed with enough humidity it could happen.
the term unrefined should be changed to partially refined as totally unrefined would mean there were still twigs in it! i don't think there are laws governing the language of sugar.

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jsd, demerara is a very coarse sugar so i think it would be preferably to add molasses to white sugar.

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megan--i'm so glad the caramel powder was such a success. to work out different shape pans all you need to do is measure their volume so you can compare it to the amount of batter in the original one.

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Hi Rose,
I would like to use the cones of unrefined sugar called piloncillo, but I bought them 2 years ago and I saw on the pack that are only good for 3 months.They look kind of white. Can they get fermented because they are unrefined?
I have heard that if they are unrefined, why do they say it's raw sugar if they use chemicals to make the syrup in blocks or cones?
Can you find this kind of sugar organic and where?

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i live in austria and moist brown sugars are not avaialble here. the only brown sugar i can find is Demerara, can this be ever be used in baking? or is it best to use a mix of white sugar and molasses to get the proper proportions. any suggestions would be appreciated.
thanks for your help. j

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Hi Rose,

Well, I took your advise and made caramel powder - what cool stuff - and used that in the pound cake recipe. I also added more milk. It turned out very well, but I decided I wanted a cake that was less dense.
I made the biscuit roulade today with the caramel powder in both the cake and syrup. It was fantastic. I filled it with a mixture of apricot puree and marscarpone cheese. Everyone at the restaurant liked it.
Later, I was looking through your sponge-type cake recipes, and I thought the golden genoise could be even better - I started out thinking I wanted to make brown butter cake. If I wanted to make that recipe in a half or full sheet tray, how would I multiply or divide the recipe.

Thanks for your help,
Megan

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oh my! i'm so glad you asked bc this little alex is now 23 years old and father of a step son hadyn and new baby girl (2 months old) whom i'll be visiting in germany end of april!
romantic and classic cakes was my first book and a passion for chocolate was the one i translated and revised from the french.

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Just out of curiousity, is alex levy the litle boy in 'roses celebrations' by the cake and spaghetti/meatball recipes? and, did you write the books a passion for chocolate and romantic and classic cakes? or did you just translate them from a different language?

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thanks shely! i'm on vacation now but just want to tell you that the only thing you can do to ensure that it stays ok is to get some silica gel (i don't know you sells it but try google). and let me know how it works--send photos and i'll post them!

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I would like to make "edible" easter grass out of spun sugar but how can it be kept dry enough without getting tacky at room temp ? Is there something that can be added to the sugar ? Or any other suggestions on what to use for this ? Thanks !
P.S.: Rose, I absolutely idolize you ! I opened my own pastry shoppe last year and refer back to your books all the time.

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if you mean can you use regular granulated sugar instead of superfine the answer is yes. superfine gives a slighlty finer more velvety texture but fine granulated is also excellent.

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Would it affect the texture too much if I used granulated sugar in your carrot and banana bread recipes? Thank you.

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lettie flatt, pastry chef at deer valley, has written a wonderful book with lots of high altitude advice. also susan purdee has gone to different locations at different altitudes to write her recent book so you should definitely check those out.
if i were substituting caramel for sugar i would make caramel and powder it but of course this means you're cooking the water out of the sugar and at high altitude dryness is one of the problems. you'll have to experiment but the biscuit de savoie works wonderfully at high altitude and your idea of a caramel syrup and also buttercream is a good direction to go in.
best of luck up there. i'm heading to deer valley day after tomorrow!

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Hi Rose,

I am about to embark on a new journey. I am going to be the sous-chef at a restaurant in Santa Fe, NM, and I am going to be in charge of the baking and pastery production. I have all of you baking books and I've read most of the baking science portions of the books, but I have some questions.

Santa Fe is at 7000ft, snd in the desert. I know your advice for cakes is to lower levening and increase liquid. Do you have any other advice?

I am also working on a consept for a plated dessert using "brown butter cake" and apricots. I made your Perfect Pound Cake last week using brown butter and your Apricot Puree. The flavor of the batter was excelent - carmel flavor and aroma. After the cake was baked, however, the flavors and aromas were very subtle. I am looking for a cake with caramelized flavors. I was wondering if you could substitute caramel for the sugar the the recipe? Would the sugar as caramal affect the cake structure? Would it be a better idea to make sponge cake and brush it with carmel syrup?

Thanks,
Megan
Santa Fe, NM

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thanks! my cousin wanted to save them (it was her baby shower)!

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forever if not subjected to humidity

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i made baby booties out of pastillage and was wondering how long they will last at room temperature?

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Hi! ...never posted before, but thought I'd ask.... I'm using Rose's pastillage recipe and getting a lumpy consistency that does not roll out to a satin smooth finish - anyone have any ideas what I might be doing wrong?

Thanks and hugs in advance!
BethAnn :)

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read harold mcgee's "on food and cooking" to understand better exactly what happens when different degrees of heat are applied to different food substances. it's the best out there.

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thanks. i will try using some unsweetened.
i would love to have more of an understanding behind the buttercream... so the sugar syrup is what makes the icing thick. i would love to know why.
can you recommend a good reference book?
what is the difference between the mousseline buttercream and a swiss meringue buttercream (which cooks the egg whites with the sugar to 160 degrees)?
thanks.

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no--it won't thicken. try adding some unsweetened. to taste

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the last time i made chocolate mousseline buttercream, i used semisweet chocolate instead of bittersweet b/c that is all i could find at the store. it was good, but of course a little sweeter than it should have been. Is there a way i can still make the buttercream with semisweet choc but not have it as sweet (can i cut back on the sugar added to the meringue)? thanks so much!

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yes it will. if you don't want to use either lemon or liquuer just use the sugar and water but it will be sweeter of course.

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i need to use a simple syrup for the next cake i am making b/c i will be making it more than 24 hours in advance. do i use lemon juice for the extract/liqueor? and will it make the cake taste lemony?

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i only used one once when i studied at le notre and remember something about dropping a small amount of liquid on it and looking through a viewer for proper density. i think you would find this type of info. in a book on ice creams and sorbets for food service as smaller scale preparations don't really require it. probably the only instrument i don't have!i think in france, home cooks use an egg--if it floats the syrup is the correct density!

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James Griffiths
James Griffiths
02/18/2007 11:18 AM

hi do you know how to use a saccharometer correctly when making ice creams and sorbet

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1 cup sugar= 7 ounces
1 cup powdered sugar= 4 ounces
as the saying goes "you do the math!"

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Carole Finder
Carole Finder
02/16/2007 12:04 PM

If I wanted to replace 1 cup of sugar in a recipe with powdered sugar, how much would I use. Thanks

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i think it's just as easy as fondant. but you do need something to connect the pieces--royal icing has egg white so i don't know what else to suggest.

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How difficult is it to work with pastillage? i would like to try and make a pair of booties for a baby shower cake and was going to use fondant. but since pastillage dries faster, do you think that will be easier to use? also, if i do use pastillage, is egg white necessary to connect the different pieces or can i use something else?

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Can I replace corn syrup with splenda in a recipe

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i know it's a long article to read through but your question is answered in detail above! here's the short version: brown sugar contains "impurities" i.e. things other than sucrose which therefore have a propensity to intiate crystallization. in food service there are products that can be added to prevent this but they are not generally available to the consumer so it's best to use granulated refined sugar to prevent crystallization.

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Kim Johnson
Kim Johnson
12/ 4/2006 10:40 AM

I have a question about making caramels. I have made caramels in the past that held up well through the Christmas season. The last few years they have started crystallizing after a week or two. What's causing this? It seems like it's mostly the brown sugar caramels.

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refined suar works best to make caramel but lacking that, adding acid in the form of cream of tartar or even lemon juice helps to prevent crystallization.
wasanban is available from corti brothers just outside of san francisco.
the sugar you describe does not sound like wasanban which is washed and kneaded entirely by hand.

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Jennifer Mac Donald
Jennifer Mac Donald
11/12/2006 12:53 AM

Hello,
I found your article very interesting. I am developing a recipe. I live in Port Angeles, Wa, a very damp place, almost at Sea Level. I tried making caramelized sugar and the granulated sugar was forming hard, crystal chunks before it even got to melt. Once melted, it reached a dark, caramel color, in about a minute, not even to mention the 2" wide hard caramel chunk that had formed in the center of the pot. I removed the pot, and stuck it in cold water immediately, but it was already like candy brittle. I checked out the website on Wasanbon, but there was no place to go to purchase it. Today, at Safeway, I found a sugar that to me, would closely resemble it, a light beige, sparkly and somewhat fine sugar, called " Zulka ", which has a recipe on the back " Chestnuts in Syrup ", method similar to what I have, but just says bring to a boil. It claims that it is made from 100% unrefined, Cane juice, which has been squeezed daily, from fresh, ripe cane to produce a sugar that preserves the nutritional value of minerals while giving you an aromatic and great tasting sweetener. Given that, would you compare it to the Wansambon? and how do you think it would be in making caramel and caramel sauce? I planned to bring it to a boil with both the scrapings of a vanilla bean and water, then add apples to brown and cook a bit, then place in oven for final cooking, much like a " tart tatin ", in method, but only foil-covered, because I merely want caramelized apples, that once cooled, will be my topping for my latest recipe, " Caramel Apple Cheesecake". What do you think?
Appreciate any comment. Thanks,
Jennifer

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this could happen if the humidity is high but also both thermometers could be off. try taking it to a slightly higher temperature and i'm sure that will help.

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I love your Mahogany Butter Crunch Toffee, however most times it comes out soft and chewy rather than hard and cruncy? what am I doing wrong? I am very careful about the temperature, even bought a new thermometer which reads the same as my first.

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the equivalency for brown sugar is for 1 cup of light brown sugar use 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup light molasses; for 1 cup dark brown sugar use 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/2 cup light molasses.

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Lorne Goodman
Lorne Goodman
10/23/2006 09:32 AM

Many baking recipes call for "packed brown sugar". Can regular molasses be substituted for the brown sugar?

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I have a 12 years old son and he is a diabetic. He wants to eat sweet but my wife and I for a long time refuse to let him have any sweets. With the new organics proucts that are out on the market; what types of ingredients can I use to bake at home so I can let my son ejoy cookies, and other sweets to a low degree; so my wife and I can mintor his sugar intake after he have eaten any baked sweets. In other words what fats, sugar, flour, eggs, dairy,oils, nuts, and extracts would help us out so we can keep his sugar in control or aborpt slowly into the blood.

A helpless dad seek your advise on this matter.

Clueless and Helpless Dad
ron johnson

PS. Can you send my respond to my email address?

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terri, if the dough soften, try using a pastry cloth rubbed with flour--this really helps--or slip it onto a cookie sheet and firm it up in the frig. and work with small amount of dough at a time. when i do cut out cookies i always refrigerate the dough after making the cut out so that it's firm enough to remove the excess dough easily without mis-shaping the cookies.

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juliana, when working on the cake bible i tried to develop a chocolate buttermilk cake and wasn't happy with the results for the follwing reason: to get the most flavor from cocoa (which gives the best chocolate layer-type butter cake) you need to dissolve it in boiling water. if you try doing this with buttermilk instead it curdles.
glad the brown sugar substitution worked well!

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abdul, i am not a vanilla producer so i'm afraid i can't help you with this.

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Hi Rose,

I tried a recipe for cut-out decorated cookies and they tasted good but the dough was very hard to work with. I found that by substituting the granulated for powdered sugar the dough was perfect and the cookies held their shape better. However, they do not taste as good. Is there anything I need to know to make this work? Thank you.

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hello rose,

Am a commercial vanilla grower/curer. I need your help. I need to put value to make vanilla extract/vanilla paste/vanilla syrup and the like. I cure about 30 metric tonnes of vanilla every year. Any info would be appreciated

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I like the title of the book. Hmmm....Now I wonder what the cover picture will be.....

By the way, Rose, I became adventurous and decided to alter your recipe again. Hope you don't mind.

Just thought I could play around with the eggs and sugar part, so I used one egg and 2 yolks, but with 100g brown sugar and 100g white sugar for your buttermilk country cake. The buttermilk remained at 160g.

The cake turned out o.k. and tasted delicious. I baked it this morning and took it to my mum's place where my parents and sisters and their husbands could try it.
Now, less than a quarter of the cake is left.

In fact, I like the buttermilk taste so much, I'm wondering if I can change it into a moist chocolate buttermilk cake.
Do you have any recommendations?

Thanks.

Juliana.

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by the way, just yesterday i spoke to my nephew alex levy who is with the airforce in bagdad. i told him the name of the book because he, actually, was resposible for it! when he was a little boy and would come to visit from the west coast he would tease me about saying that everything i eat that tastes good to me i pronounce as "heavenly." (and he would immitate the loving drawn out way i said it complete with a sign to perfection.)

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fall 2008 "rose's heavenly cakes"
thanks for asking!

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Thanks for the recommendations, Rose.

I hope to see your new book soon. Have you thought of the title yet?

Juliana.

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first of all, glad the texture turned out to your liking. you can indeed subsitute one whole egg for 2 of the yolks. it may be a tiny bit less moist and tender but i think still delicious. if you were making a really large cake i would say to increase the baking powder a tiny bit to compensate but for this size cake i think you can leave everything else as is. which brings to mind the beating question. sounds like you're beating just fine bc if you were underbeating the cake would fall or dip a little on the surface.
my batters are fairly thick as adequate beating makes the batter lighten in color as it aerates and thickens. if you follow the baking times and if you're using a stand mixer medium speed (#4 kitchen aid) or hand held and then use high speed and increase the beating to 2 minutes for the first part and 45 seconds between additions you should be fine. next book i'll offer photos of what the batter looks like!

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Hi Rose,

I'm back again. Sorry about the dry-taste-in-the-mouth part. My husband tasted the cake and he says it's o.k. I could have taken something before or after the cake that resulted in the dry taste. Now that I've tried it again, it's o.k. It's almost half gone now.

But I'm still confused about the under-beating part. I don't know how to tell if my batter has had enough beating before I pan it. Are 2-stage batters suppposed to have the "ribbon-stage" look if they have been beaten enough?

Thanks.

Juliana.

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Hi Rose,

I tried baking the buttermilk country cake with the brown sugar and white sugar combination (minus 2 tbsps buttermilk) that you recommended.
It tastes just as delicious and moist and the crumb is good, except that after eating quite a lot of it, there is this dry taste in my mouth. But if I follow your recipe, I shouldn't have a problem with the baking powder, right?
I use Bob's Red Mill non-Aluminium double-acting baking powder.

By the way, how do I tell if I have beaten the batter enough? Is there a certain consistency or appearance that I should look for?

Juliana.

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Hi Rose,

About your buttermilk country cake again (original recipe), can I use one whole egg and 2 egg yolks instead of 4 yolks, because I'm trying to avoid too much leftover egg white?
You mentioned in The Cake Bible that one egg can be replaced by 2 yolks. If I do that, do I need to change the baking powder amount or the amount of other ingredients in order to achieve the similar texture and moistness as your original recipe?

Thanks.

Juliana.

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no! it would not have enough sweetness or tenderness. if you want to try it with brown sugar by all means use 50 grams but also use 150 grams of granulated sugar and decrease the buttermilk by about 2 tablespoons. let me know how you like it!

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Hi Rose,

I baked your buttermilk country cake that I found in The Cake Bible and I love its taste, but now I am curious about how it would taste with browm sugar instead of white sugar.

You mentioned in your book (and even the blog notes) that brown sugar has 2.1% water and white sugar has 0.5% water. Would it be possible, then, to substitute your white sugar component in the recipe with brown sugar using one quarter of the white sugar weight?
This would mean that instead of having 200g of white sugar with 200g of cake flour, I would use 50g of brown sugar instead.
This sounds drastic. Will it work?

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i am sugar manufacturer ,recently i faced to lumping our white refined sugar in pvc bags during storing in warehouse.i would like to know how can I solve this problem,
thanks for your prompt answe
rezaee

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thank you martha for the most interesting feedback! i never tried woodstock farms but what i liked about the fl crystals is the flavor--not too pronounced a molasses taste--and the size of the crystals which is about = to baker's special aka superfine. it's really fun to do small batches and experiment with different sugars to see the effect.

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Martha Simmons
Martha Simmons
06/ 4/2006 10:55 AM

Rose and Lola,
I am thrilled to find this resource. I too have an organic baking business, recently adding cakes to a mostly artisanal bread and small pastry repertoire. The Cake Bible is already butter splattered and chocolate stained - much to the delight of every client to date. As to the organic sugar question, I have been relying on Woodstock Farms Pure Organic Cane Sugar. Consulting the Cake Bible, I realized I needed a finer granulation. Per suggestion,I have been "grinding" in the food processor. I have been impressed with the difference in the texture of the end product, while not having to compromise on (what I think is) the better flavor and the integrity of the organic ingredient. I just checked, and I can also get the Florida Crystals organic sugar in quantity through my coop.
A question for Rose, have you tried Woodstock Farms? Did you choose Florida Crystals over it, and if so why?

And Rose, thanks so much for your thorough scientific/heartfelt approach to your work.

Signed,
A most appreciative fan. . .

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yes, sugar adds a great deal of moistness. i think it would be fine to use part brown sugar. it will give a molasses flavor and has a little extra water but that will evaporate during cooking.

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I have a baking question. I made a batch of lemon bars - and ran out of sugar in the house. As it was late, and I was lazy I decided to see how using the sugar I had (1 Cup, while the recipe called for 2) would affect the lemon bars. The sugar was for the curd part, I had enough for the shortbread base. I also rationalized that it would make my curd tarter, which I prefer than overly sweet curd. Well, the taste was fine, but the curd was dry. Is this because there is water content in the sugar? Any advice for the future if I have this happen again? Could I use brown sugar in my lemon curd? Thanks!

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sam, i don't know if you're referring to my cakes. i use equal weight sugar and flour which is less sweet than most and this gives me the texture and sweetness level i find ideal. you're right that if you drop the sugar further it will result in less tender and moist cakes. some people use fruit purees to accomplish this. you may want to experiment or check out recipes on the internet.

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lola, i like the FL crystal organic sugar as it has a fine texture and excellent flavor. if you don't find the texture of the buttercream as light as using refined sugar i can't think of any choice that would do better. it sounds like you're making very delicious wedding cakes!

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Most cakes are overly sweet for my taste. I would like to reduce the amount of sugar in cake batters by 25% to 50%. But of course this negatively effects tenderness, moisture, etc. Is there a way to reduce sweetness, but maintain the other benefits of sugar, by adjusting (or adding) other ingredients?
Thanks.

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Rose, I am an organic & vegan wedding/special occasion cake baker. My business is based on using organic flours, sugars and fruits and flavorings and dairy products that are hormone and antibiotic-free. So I've been experimenting with using organic sugar in my swiss meringue buttercream. Do you have any suggestions as to how to make it a bit lighter? It seems to come out heavy and not as creamy and light as with ordinary sugar. The Florida organic sugar has also improved the texture and I have added a small amount of melted Callebaut white chocolate and it also seems to help. I would welcome any suggestions you might have.
Thank you so much!
I must tell you that when I decided to start this business, I checked your book out from my library and read it from top to bottom! Thank you so much for the great , recipes, the awesome research and wonderful stories! And of course, I can't live without the Ganache recipe!
Lola Granola

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dextrose is a powedered sugar that doesn't dissolve into the surface of the cake. i use it for demos or food photos and don't especially like the flavor for the real thing! you can get it in wine supply stores (for making wine). king arthur also has some form of non-melting powdered sugar. it's up to you. i'd rather dust it with the sugar just before presentation and use the "real thing,"i.e. sucrose aka powdered or confectioner's sugar.

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Do the bakeries really use non-melting
confectioner's sugar on the long johns and stuff?
How do the bakeries keep the powder from disappearing?
Where can I get the non-melting sugar/do I really need it?

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my recipe from "rose's christmas cookies" uses half powdered sugar half super fine. the recipe is also posted on my website: www.thecakebible.com
my lemon curd topping is on the tart side so that it can be doused with powdered sugar for decor.
powdered sugar doesn't have a metallic taste. it's coming from the lemon topping. it's important to use non-reactive containers when making it such as stainless steel or enamel-coated cast iron. tin-lined copper will definitely cause a metallic after-taste.

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I am trying to make lemon bars but am a bit confused about which sugar I should use for the shortbread. Most recipes call for powdered sugar, but a few call for granular sugar. I tried a lemon bar recently which had a slightly metallic taste and was wondering if that was caused by the powdered sugar. Do you have any suggestions? I'd like to avoid an overly sweet and metallic-tasting shortbread crust but still retain that crumbly texture.

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please read my article on sugar posted ont his blog for a thorough discussion of syrups in which i list refiner's syrup as a superior interfering agent. how the different water content affect the end product depends on the end product, i.e if you are making a syrup and reaching a specific temperature than the water boils off so it makes no difference.

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I suppose this is a better place for this question...I understand corn syrup is used instead of (or in addition to) sugar to prevent sugar crystallization. Do other syrups (I'm primarily interested in refiner's syrup, though) have this same property, and can they be substituted for corn syrup? How will the different water contents of the various syrups affect the end products?

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lightly packed means pressed into the cup lightly. firmly means to press it in as much as is possible.
see why weighing is so much easier?

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i find that FL. crystals is the same weight as completely refined sugar. there is only the mildest hint of molasses and though the water content is slightly higher, it is so slight there is no perceptible difference.
light muscovado weighs the same amount as light brown.
billingtons dark brown molasses sugar has a lot more molasses in it than dark brown sugar. use the india tree dark muscovado.

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Sorry, back with more questions already...

One of the more exasperating things I've encountered is when a recipe calls for either "lightly" or "firmly" packed brown sugar. What in the world do these inexact terms mean? How do you interpret these quantities in terms of weight?

Thanks.

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Hi Rose,

I notice that you use Florida Crystals's organic sugar as your basic baking sugar; am I to interpret from this that you use it in place of the common white granulated sugar? If so, I have a few questions (well, I have questions anyway...):

1. Was at Whole Foods this afternoon and noticed by feeling through the bags that the organic "white" sugars from Florida Crystals, Wholesome Sweeteners, and Whole Foods's private label are somewhat moist, and some bags had hard clumps inside. This leads me to think that these sugars have a bit of residual moisture/molasses content and probably behave a bit like brown sugar. How does this moisture affect their measurements in comparison to granulated sugar? In other words, if 1 cup gran. sugar is 200 g, will the organic sugars weigh more? If so, by how much?

2. How does this increased moisture content affect baking results?

3. Hain Natural Foods also has their version of white sugar, which did not feel as moist as the other brands above, but the granules are much bigger. I assume that this means less sugar per given volume -- but will it work the same if we substitute it weight-for-weight against granulated sugar?

3. I just bought some light muscovado sugar in place of light brown sugar. Does musdovado weigh the same as light brown (217 g/cup)?

4. What would you use in place of dark brown sugar? India Tree has something called "dark muscovado," and Billington's has a product called "dark brown molasses" sugar. Are these suitable replacements for dark brown? And, are they really the same thing, but marketed under different names?

Well, that was a lot of questions. Thanks for any thoughts you might have aobut them.

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