White sugar is a key element of the diets of millions of individuals across the country, and forms the basis of a number of our most popular dishes and delicacies, including cakes, pies, cookies, candies, ice cream, and more – none of these would be the same without a sweet touch.
Softening hard white sugar is an important step for any cook who wants to create the perfect dessert or baked goods.
It will ensure that your recipe comes out just right every time, and that your food tastes great!
Knowing how to soften white sugar is essential, and we have put together the ultimate guide to ensure that you have all of the information you need.
What Is White Sugar?
White sugar is simply refined cane sugar, which has been processed in order to remove impurities and make it easier to use.
This process removes the molasses from the original sugarcane juice, leaving only pure sucrose (sugar) crystals.
The color of white sugar is slightly different from brown sugar, but both are made from the same basic ingredients.
Why Do I Need To Soften My Sugar?
Sugarcane juice contains natural sugars, which can crystallize when exposed to air.
When this happens, the sugar crystals become very hard and difficult to work with.
If you want to bake something like a cake, pie, cookie, or another type of confectionery, then you’ll need to soften your sugar before using it.
There are a number of ways to do this, including using a microwave to soften your sugar, by using the paper towel method, or by using a food processor.
We have taken a closer look at these methods below to allow you to choose the best option for your baking.
The easiest way to soften your sugar is to heat it up in the microwave.
To achieve this, simply place the desired sugar in a bowl – make sure that this is microwave safe.
Then, use a spray or water mister to make the sugar a little damp, and place the bowl in the microwave.
Heat on high for around 5 minutes, then check the sugar. Tap on the sugar with a spoon to break it down into clumps.
You may find that some batches of sugar take longer than others, so keep checking on them until they’re ready.
Paper Towel Method
Another easy way to soften your sugar involves using a paper towel.
Simply soak a clean, dry paper towel in cold water, and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible.
Place the wet paper towel over the top of your bowl of sugar, and leave it there for about 10-15 minutes.
You should see the sugar begin to melt and turn soft.
Food Processor Method
Another option to soften your sugar is to use a food processor – this will give you the smoothest results. Simply add your sugar to the food processor, and pulse it several times.
Once the sugar is broken down into small pieces, pour it back into the bowl where you started.
Repeat this process until the sugar is completely broken down and can be used in your baking.
If you don’t have access to a food processor, you can also try crushing your sugar in a mortar and pestle instead.
The Apple Method
A lesser-known method for softening your sugar is to use the apple method – this involves removing the core of the apple, and cutting the rest of it into quarters.
Remove the sugar from the container, and place the apples inside the container. Seal well, and place in a cool, dry place for around 12 hours.
After this time, remove the slices of apple, and then use a spoon to break up the sugar – it should be soft and easy to use!
The Slice Of Bread Method
Another curious way to soften sugar is to use a simple slice of bread.
Just as with the apple method, place the slice of bread into the container with the sugar, seal it, and wait for around a day before removing the bread.
During the process, the bread will absorb the moisture from the sugar, making it the perfect texture for baking and cooking.
The Casserole Dish Method
If you have a casserole dish to hand, you can also place the sugar inside this, and place both in the oven for around 15 minutes, cooking at 150 to 200 degrees.
The sugar will soften, and you will be able to tap it gently with a spoon to break the chunks and pieces apart.
Which Type Of Sugar Should I Use For Baking?
Choosing the right type of sugar for baking is an important part of the process, and there are a number of types of sugar to select from:
Brown sugar has a light brown color and is made by boiling granulated white sugar together with molasses.
It’s often used for its sweet taste, but can also be used as a substitute for regular white sugar when required.
Caster sugar is similar to brown sugar, but without any molasses added.
This means that it doesn’t contain any of the nutrients found in brown sugar, and so it’s not recommended for baking.
Demerara sugar is a dark brown sugar that contains no additives or preservatives. It’s commonly used in cakes and desserts and is available in different sizes and shapes.
Muscovado sugar is a darker version of brown sugar, and is made from raw cane sugar. It’s often used in baking and desserts, and is sometimes referred to as ‘raw’ sugar.
This is a fine powdery substance that is usually sold in packets, and is often used to add extra sweetness to baked goods.
Powdered sugar is best stored in airtight containers, and should never be kept in direct sunlight, or it can become discolored and sticky.
Raw sugar is unrefined sugar that hasn’t been processed through refining processes.
It’s often used as a natural alternative to refined sugar, and is often used for baking and cooking.
It’s also known as demerara sugar, caster sugar, muscovado sugar, raw cane sugar, and turbinado sugar.
White Granulated Sugar
White granulated sugar is a refined form of sugar that’s used in baking and cooking, and is often preferred over brown sugar because it adds more flavor to your food.
This syrup is very popular in British cuisine, and can often be used as a substitute in baking or cooking, especially if you’re looking for something a little sweeter than other sugars.
Golden syrup is made from corn, which makes it gluten free.
This sticky liquid is made from nectar produced by bees and is one of nature’s most delicious sweets.
Honey is great for adding sweetness to baked goods, and is often used as a replacement for sugar in many recipes.
Made from maple trees, this syrup is rich in antioxidants and minerals, and is often used in baking and cooking.
Maple syrup is often used as a substitute for honey or sugar in some dishes.
What Is The Difference Between Brown And White Sugars?
When baking, choosing between brown and white sugars can make a significant difference in the success of your recipe.
While both types of sugar have their uses, they do differ slightly in terms of texture, appearance, and nutritional value.
Here we’ll look at how these differences affect the way each type of sugar behaves during baking.
The main difference between brown and white sugars is the way in which they behave during baking.
Brown sugar tends to crystallize on contact with heat, while white sugar remains soft and moist.
If you want to achieve a crunchier cookie, then use brown sugar.
However, if you prefer softer cookies, then stick to using white sugar.
Brown sugar has a deep caramel color, while white sugar is much lighter in color.
When measuring out brown sugar, always stir it well before measuring, as the crystals will settle to the bottom of the container.
Brown sugar contains more nutrients than white sugar, including iron, zinc, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and vitamin B6.
White sugar contains less vitamins and minerals than brown sugar, but still provides plenty of energy.
Sugar Substitutes: How Do They Work?
There are several different sugar substitutes available today, all of which work differently when compared to regular sugar.
Some sugar substitutes contain no calories, while others provide just a small amount of energy. Others may even help boost metabolism.
Here are some of the most common sugar substitutes:
A sweetener derived from agave plants, agave nectar is similar to honey in its taste and consistency.
Agave nectar is low-glycemic, meaning that it doesn’t cause an increase in blood glucose levels. It also contains antioxidants and fiber.
These artificial sweeteners are usually found in diet sodas and other beverages, and are often marketed as being healthier alternatives to sugar.
Aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and stevia are all examples of artificial sweeteners.
These products don’t offer any additional health benefits over regular sugar, but they do have their own unique properties.
While these sugars aren’t technically sugar substitutes, they’re used in place of sugar in certain recipes.
Honey, molasses, maple syrup, barley malt syrup, corn syrup, and rice syrup are all examples of alternative sweeteners.
Which Type Of Sugar Should I Use In My Recipes?
While there’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to sugar, there are some things to consider when deciding which type of sugar to use in your recipes, and these include:
The Type Of Food You Are Baking
Your intended end result is perhaps the biggest indicator of what type of sugar to use.
For example, foods such as cakes, muffins, and breads should be baked with white sugar because they tend to become dry and crumbly if cooked with brown sugar.
On the other hand, cookies and bars should be made with brown sugar because they need the extra moisture provided by this type of sugar.
The Recipe You Are Using
If you’re making a cake, for instance, then you’d probably choose white sugar because it’ll give your batter a nice, light texture.
But if you were making a pie crust, then you might opt for brown sugar instead.
The Type of Cooking Method You Will Be Using
Cookies and bars can be made with either type of sugar, but if you plan to bake them at high temperatures, then brown sugar would be better suited to the task.
This is because brown sugar has a higher melting point than white sugar, so it won’t melt away during baking.
Granulated Vs. Powdered Sugar
Granulated sugar is generally preferred over powdered sugar because it dissolves faster and easier.
However, granulated sugar tends to clump together when stored for long periods of time, so it’s best to store it in airtight containers.
Powdered sugar is more stable and will not clump up as easily. However, it does take longer to dissolve than granulated sugar.
If you want to make sure that your powdered sugar dissolves quickly, simply add a few drops of water to the container before adding the sugar.
You can substitute one type of sugar for another, but keep in mind that different types of sugar may behave differently depending on the recipe you’re using.
For example, granulated sugar works well in most cookie dough recipes, while brown sugar works better in pies.
Why Does Sugar Become Hard?
You may be wondering just how hard your sugar becomes hard in the first place. There are a number of possible reasons for this, and these include:
The temperature of the room where your sugar is stored will have an impact on its hardness. The colder the room, the harder your sugar will be.
Conversely, the warmer the room, the softer your sugar will be.
Sugar that’s been sitting around for too long will also become hardened. So if you’ve got a lot of sugar left over from a party, try storing it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
As sugar ages, it begins to lose moisture, causing it to get drier and harder.
It’s important to note that sugar doesn’t actually go bad; rather, it loses its sweetness and becomes less effective.
Humidity plays a key role in determining whether or not your sugar will remain soft.
Moisture-rich environments like kitchens and bathrooms tend to cause sugar to become sticky and hard due to the humidity in the air, while dry environments like basements and attics tend to preserve sugar’s softness.
How Do I Reduce The Risk Of My Sugar Hardening?
In addition to following our tips to soften sugar, there are also a few steps that you can follow to reduce the risk of your sugar hardening in the first place.
Store In A Cool, Dry Location
If you live in a humid environment, then you should store your sugar in a cool area such as a basement or attic.
In contrast, if you live in a dry climate, then you should store it somewhere else.
Refrigerating your sugar will only increase the likelihood that it will harden. Instead, store it in a cool, dry location.
Use Only Freshly Milled Sugar
When buying sugar, look for packages that say “milled” instead of “granulated.” This means that the sugar has already been ground into smaller pieces.
You’ll find that freshly milled sugar is much softer than regular sugar.
There are many ways to soften hard white sugar, allowing you to create your perfect dishes with high-quality ingredients.
For best results, however, try to prevent your sugar from hardening in the first place, and use our guide to ensure that you choose the right sugar for every project.