Understanding more about different sugars will help you to choose them confidently and adapt a recipe to suit you, especially if you are keen to substitute one sugar for another. Here is a list of some of the commonly found sugars and their uses.
GRANULATED: An all-purpose sugar, highly sweet and with a very simple flavour. It has larger crystals than caster sugar, and while it can be used in most recipes as a substitute if you’re really stuck, it’s not ideal unless specified.
CASTER: It is useful for making meringues and for creaming butter and sugar to form the basis of sponge cakes. If you don’t have any around, you can make your own by grinding granulated sugar for a couple of minutes in a food processor.
GOLDEN CASTER SUGAR: White sugar with added molasses: it can be substituted for caster sugar in any recipe and will give it a fuller, slightly caramel colour.
LIGHT/DARK BROWN SUGAR: It adds colour and a deeper caramel flavour. It’s very moist and will increase the tenderness of a cake. Store sealed in a cool dry place to prevent it from drying out.
MUSCAVADO: Unrefined natural sugar that has a strong flavour of natural molasses. It is sticky, but can be used like any other brown sugar.
The sugars above can be substituted for each other in most cases, and although this affect will the bake, it shouldn’t spoil what you are making. Experiment with substituting sugars to see how flavour and texture are affected.
ICING SUGAR/CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR: Granulated sugar that has been ground to a fine powder, often with cornflour added to prevent clumping. It dissolves very rapidly and is good for making icing and buttercream, and for dusting finished cakes.
UNREFINED SOFT BROWN SUGAR: A distinctive caramel taste. Light and dark soft brown sugars have different flavour and moisture properties, so you can only replace one with the other in small quantities.
MOLASSES: A dark syrup less sweet than sugar, it has its own strong flavour more acidity.
HONEY: It can be substituted for granulated or caster sugar and will produce a moist and dense cake, but you will need to reduce the amount by about half, as it is much sweeter and browns faster.
LIQUID GLUCOSE: A syrupy sweetener, useful for making sorbets, jams and hard candies.
GOLDEN SYRUP: Much sweeter than sugar, with a slightly caramel flavour. Perfect for making gingerbread and flapjacks.