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Popular Types of Sugar in Baking

popular types of sugar in baking

Sugar plays an essential functional role in baking besides just adding sweetness to our baked goods. 

Sugar gives us the texture we want. It keeps our baked goods soft and moist, locking in the moisture so that our brownies, cakes and frostings do not dry out quickly. Sugar in batter or dough snatches water away from protein and starches, creating more tenderness in our product. 

Cake and quick bread batters rise during baking and sugar helps make leavening happen. When you mix a cake batter and beat sugar into fat, eggs, and other liquid ingredients, the sugar crystals cut into the mixture, creating thousands of tiny air bubbles that lighten the batter. During baking, these bubbles expand and lift the batter, causing it to rise in the pan. 

Lastly, Sugar gives us depth and colour in our baked goods. From browning of bread, to caramelization, this is all thanks to sugar.

So let’s explore the many types of refined sugar out there. You may be familiar with some of them, and towards the end, we will touch on the healthier alternative for sugar.


Granulated Sugar

Granulated Sugar are refined medium-sized crystals that have all the molasses removed. They are also known as White Sugar, with just plain sweetness. Hence they are ideal to sweeten beverages and used in baking.


Caster Sugar

Caster Sugar is actually granulated sugar that have been grounded into very fine texture crystals. They dissolve even quicker and easier hence ideal to create fluffier texture when creaming butter and sugar. One of the economical ways to have caster sugar, is to grind granulated sugar into finer crystals and voila! Caster Sugar is made.


Icing Sugar

Icing Sugar is also actually granulated sugar which has been grinded to even a very fine powder texture with anti-caking agent added to it. Just like Caster Sugar, icing sugar can be made at home. Simply just grind regular granulated sugar and cornstarch with a 1:1 ratio until it becomes powdery form.


Pure Icing Sugar

Pure Icing Sugar on the other hand, is icing sugar without any anti-caking agent. One of the most common uses of Pure Icing Sugar is to bake macarons as it requires a crispier texture.


Brown Sugar

Next we have the Brown Sugar. Molasses is responsible for its darker color and slightly increases its nutritional value. Brown sugar also contains slightly fewer calories than white sugar, yet the difference is minimal. It tastes just as sweet as white sugar.

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While we understand how sugar is important in baking, and one may think it is tough to give it up entirely, natural sweeteners might do the trick. They are low in calories, low in fructose and taste just as sweet as refined sugar.



Honey is the most common natural sweeteners available. It is a sweet liquid that is produced by bees from the nectar of flowers. Honey is natural and versatile, and can be used in many ways, such as baking, drinks and sauces. It is slightly sweeter compared to sugar, so one must be careful with our recipe when swapping refined sugar with honey. Here is a pro tip: Subtract 1/4 cup of other liquids from the recipe for every 1 cup of honey, because honey contains about 20% of liquid. When baking with honey, make sure the oven heat is lowered since honey contains higher sugar and have the tendency to caramelize and burn faster than sugar.


Coconut Sugar

Coconut Sugar is obtained from the nectar that is produced by the blossoms of coconut tree. It has notes of butterscotch and brown sugar, with sweetness similar to sugar. Coconut sugar is well known to be a healthier alternative to regular sugar when it comes to baking. The recommended ratio when baking is 1:1 when substituting white sugar with coconut sugar.



Molasses is a thick, dark syrup and a byproduct of sugar cane’s refining process. First, sugar cane is crushed to create juice, and then boiled until it creates sugar crystals and the remaining syrup becomes what we known to be molasses. Blackstrap molasses (thickest texture, darkest and the least sweet) is obtained from the 3rd boiling and has only 45% sugar content. Blackstrap molasses tastes slightly bitter, salty and intense. It can be used to substitute any recipes that call for brown sugar or honey. Molasses is great in savoury cooking too, with baked beans, BBQ sauces and gingerbread cookies.


Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup is a natural sweetener obtained from the sap of maple tree. It is great to drizzle on pancakes, waffles, bacons and on desserts. However, there is a big difference between Maple Syrup and Maple-flavoured syrups (a.k.a pancake syrup). Maple-flavoured syrup IS NOT Maple Syrup – they are made of sugar syrup with maple flavoured extract and colouring. So do read your bottle labels carefully! Maple Syrup has its own grading system, they are graded based on their colour and taste. There is Grade A Golden with Delicate Taste – the lightest syrup with a smooth, subtle maple flavour which makes it ideal for whipped cream, maple candies and on fresh fruit. There is also Grade A Amber Rich Taste – the classic maple syrup which is rich in flavour, smooth and sweet, ideal for pancakes, granola and waffles. The Grade A Dark Robust Taste is a darker colour syrup, best used for sauces and glazes, candied or over ice-cream. Those who wants a strong dark colour syrup with stronger maple flavour. Lastly, Grade A Very Dark Strong Taste has the most intense maple flavour, and it looks a little like molasses which makes it ideal for baking, custards and for cooking.


Stevia Sweetener

Stevia sweetener is a no-calorie natural sweetener that is derived from the leaves of stevia plant. It is known to be 200-350 times sweetener than regular sugar. It is often used to reduce calorie intake and helps in weight loss regimes. Stevia sweeteners can be used in various ways such as baking, beverages and food because it is stable in high heat.


Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener

Lakanto Monk Fruit Sweetener is a zero-glycemic, zero-calorie natural sweetener that is obtained from the sweet extract of monk fruit (better known as Luo Han Guo fruit). It is known to be 150-200 times sweeter than regular sugar and like stevia, it is suitable to use in beverages, food and baking. 

LAKANTO Luo Han Guo Sweetener


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So there you have it, the different types of sugar and natural sweeteners available in baking. If you found this article useful, why not follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get updates whenever we release a new article? You can also check out a few of our other articles:


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