Ever wondered: When a recipe calls for raw cane sugar, can you substitute regular sugar?
Yes, you can. Several varieties of sugar are now available in the baking aisle and many are interchangeable with each other, cup for cup.
Technically, raw sugar is “the residue left after sugarcane has been processed to remove the molasses and refine the sugar crystals,” according to the Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst (Barron’s, $12.95).
Because of that raw state, it can contain molds and contaminants. So any raw sugar sold in the U.S. is first purified.
Sugars labeled turbinado or demerara are a close substitute to raw sugar. They are less processed than regular sugar.
At grocery stores you can find a brand called Sugar in the Raw, which is turbinado sugar.
Here are common sugar varieties and their differences:
• Granulated sugar: This is the most commonly used form of sweetener for baked goods or at the table. It’s generally inexpensive and easy to work with. It’s refined from cane or beet sugar.
• Baker’s sugar: The crystals are smaller than regular granulated sugar. C&H says its Baker’s Sugar has an “ultra fine” grain in order to “blend and melt more evenly.” It measures the same as regular granulated sugar.
• Superfine sugar: You might see this listed as castor sugar, as it’s known in Britain and other countries. Superfine has a fine texture, which makes it dissolve faster in liquids. It’s ideal for making meringues.
• Brown sugar: Commonly available in light and dark versions. This is granulated sugar with some molasses mixed in; that’s why it’s darker and softer. The darker the sugar, the deeper the molasses flavor.
• Confectioners’ sugar: Also called powdered sugar. This is granulated sugar that’s been pulverized to a powder.
• Turbinado: This is raw sugar that, according to the Food Lover’s Companion, “has been steam cleaned.” It’s light brown, with large crystals. It can be used in place of raw cane sugar.
• Demerara sugar: This sugar is the English version of turbinado.
Always store sugar in a cool dry place in an enclosed container to keep moisture out. If brown sugar becomes hard, place it in a bowl and microwave it in 30-second increments until it softens or you can break it up with a fork. Take it out of its plastic packaging first, because the sugar will become too hot and might melt the plastic.
Or, place brown sugar clumps in a paper bag and add a couple of apple wedges or a slice of bread. Close the bag tightly and leave for one to two days. Remove the apple slices.