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Everything you wanted to know about Brown Sugar


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#1 Ellen Shapiro

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Posted 13 March 2002 - 05:23 PM

This is something I'm just not very successful at.

The people at Domino Sugar ("We'll always be your sugar") say put it in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with wet paper towels, cover that with plastic, microwave for 1.5-2 minutes, separate it with a fork, and use.

http://www.dominosug.../baking/faq.asp

Isn't there an easier way to address this common annoyance?
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#2 Julliana

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Posted 13 March 2002 - 07:23 PM

You can put a piece of bread in the bag or jar overnight (or for several hours) and the brown sugar will soften, but it will not last and will become hard again. The bread adds moisture to the sugar and when the sugar is soft, the bread becomes hard.  I think you'd have to keep putting fresh bread in there to keep the sugar soft.  The idea is to soften it for whatever you need, use it, and then repeat the process everytime you need to use the sugar.

I've heard you can use an apple slice instead of the bread, but I dont always have a slice of apple handy, and I cringe when I think what would happen to the apple slice if I forgot about it for any length of time.

I think there are ways to prevent the sugar from hardening in the first place, but I cant remember any of them.


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#3 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 14 March 2002 - 07:03 AM

Sealing it in an airtight container is the best way to keep it from hardening in the first place. If you need to use the sugar right away and can't wait overnight for the bread to soften it, you can always grate it. Or, you can do what I do: use white sugar and add a spoonful of molasses.

#4 schmoopie

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Posted 14 March 2002 - 12:12 PM

Ellen, I have tried every way known to man to soften brown sugar, including the apple, wet paper towel/microwave thing.  Nothing has every worked.  So, I now store my brown sugar in a sealed Foodsaver bag or canister.  I can't tell you how much aggravation that machine has saved me, not to mention money saved on food that would have otherwise spoiled had I stored it any other way.

#5 mamster

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Posted 14 March 2002 - 04:23 PM

We buy C&H brown sugar in a resealable two-pound bag, and it stays soft long enough to use up two pounds of it, easy.  But I never saw that packaging in the Northeast.  So if you have to buy the box, transfer it to a Ziploc.  Should stay mushy.
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#6 Malawry

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Posted 15 March 2002 - 07:34 AM

I use Rachel's method of combining molasses and white sugar. It tastes fresher and more flavorful than brown sugar in the box or bag does. However, I've often wondered if there are accepted proportions for making "light" or "dark" brown sugar on your own in this way. I've played around with it a little bit but wondered if there was a simple proportion formula I could follow. Anybody know?

#7 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 15 March 2002 - 07:37 AM

I really don't have proportions. Generally if something has brown sugar in it where I feel the molasses taste should be emphazed I'll add more, say a tablespoon or even two; if it should be deemphasized, then use about a teaspoon. Usually, I don't bother mixing the two first, I'll just add the sugar and the molasses to the mixing bowl along with whatever other ingredients are being mixed (usually eggs or butter get creamed with the sugar).

#8 cakewench

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Posted 20 March 2004 - 03:57 PM

I would like to make some chocolate chip cookies for my fiance here in Germany, but I'm having some Issues with brown sugar (or, lack thereof). No need to tell me that it's available in *insert big city name here*, just trust me when I say that I am nowhere near any current or former American military bases, or within an hour of a 'major' city.

I've made them for him in the States, and they were up to my usual standard. I made them again, here in DE, and they were just a bit weird. He claims he didn't notice, and his family liked them, but *I* noticed, dammit! :biggrin:

As far as I can tell, the only difference was the lack of brown sugar. I had tried to compensate by adding a T of golden syrup (a clear molasses), which was suggested... somewhere. I don't think it helped much.

For further explanation: by weird, I mean they were a bit dry, almost a bit grainy due to the sugar. I tried creaming the butter and sugar together to avoid it the next time, but I'm not sure that helped.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! :cool:

#9 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 20 March 2004 - 04:26 PM

I thought golden syrup was corn syrup? I rarely have brown sugar in the house (I'm in the US) and I just mix a tablespoon or so of regular or blackstrap molassas (the dark stuff) into a cup of sugar. Voila, brown sugar.

That's all brown sugar is anyway. When sugar is manufactured molassas is a byproduct. They mix some molassas back into the refined sugar to get brown sugar. Rather than keep duplicate products in the house, when a cookie recipe calls for 1/2 cup white and 1/2 cup brown sugars, I just add a cup of white and a spoonful of molassas.

#10 challah-baker

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Posted 21 March 2004 - 07:29 AM

Golden Syrup is actually cane sugar syrup. It has a vanilla/caramel kind of flavor. I use it instead of corn syrup for many recipes but the flavor is much nicer. I wouldn't recommend it as a substitute for molasses though.....

#11 cakewench

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Posted 21 March 2004 - 07:52 AM

Yes, golden syrup (on its jar) says it's cane sugar syrup. I had read on another site that it was a clear version of molasses, so I tried to use it as such. hm.

Thanks for the tip, Rachel. I hope to get these cookies right over here one of these days. :rolleyes:

#12 divina

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 12:21 PM

here in Florence Italy now I can actually get brown sugar try looking i macrobiotic shops, or originally I added molasses and just used white sugar, it gives you that fabulous flavor!

I also had problems with the flour, here in italy our all purpose flour ( O) or (OO) is too low in gluten only 9 grams.. so I had to fine a higher gluten flour. or they were too runny!

#13 lamington

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 07:15 PM

You might find brown sugar in your local Reformhaus, as divina suggested, or you could try using raw sugar (should be easy to get) and golden syrup together. In fact, the Reformhaus would be a likely source of molasses, if you wanted to try that solution.
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#14 CompassRose

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 08:21 PM

Being that I have blithely substituted all sorts of sugars in my (admittedly weird) baking experiments, and never run into anything like what you've described (I've had other unexpected results), I'd be more likely to suspect that the problem lies with either the flour, or the butter. Both of which may well be substantially different from what you're used to.

Edited by CompassRose, 23 March 2004 - 08:39 PM.


#15 Pumpkin Lover

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 07:40 AM

Hey everyone--

I plan on baking banana bread tonight, and all the recipes I've found call for white sugar. I've never baked banana bread before, and I was under the assumption that it usually had brown sugar in it. Can I substitute brown sugar for white sugar easily? (I have a box of brown sugar that I'd like to use up before it hardens).

Thanks!

#16 nessa

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 07:46 AM

Yes you can substitute brown for white sugar. I personally add an extra tablespoon or so when I do so, but you don't have to.

#17 Pumpkin Lover

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 07:56 AM

Thank ye, Nessa!

#18 Gifted Gourmet

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 08:04 AM

I would think that the slight "butterscotch" flavor might add a lot to a recipe for banana bread ... and I do use one for the other if I am baking something like that ...

The darker the color the stronger the taste so use the one you like the best. The same weight of brown and white sugars has the same sweetness. Because white sugar is denser than brown sugar, to get equal sweetness firmly pack the brown sugar so when inverted the cup of brown sugar will hold its shape. Substituting brown sugar for white sugar in a recipe will produce a baked good that is a little moister with a slight butterscotch flavor. 


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#19 JennyUptown

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 05:31 PM

I'm no expert on baking (really), but one thing I make really well is banana bread. Often I'll use a mix of white and light brown sugar -- I concur that it adds a nice extra flavor. Try it.

#20 phaelon56

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 06:30 PM

I always sub brown for white in my pecan pies and it seems to add a richness to the flavor.

#21 Sobaicecream

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 01:25 AM

I'd like to make just a regular marble swirl cake but only have light brown sugar at hand. I'm curious as to why most cake recipes ask for white sugar, and would it be so bad to use brown instead, since I often find myself with only brown sugar in the house.

#22 Woods

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 06:20 AM

I'd like to make just a regular marble swirl cake but only have light brown sugar at hand. I'm curious as to why most cake recipes ask for white sugar, and would it be so bad to use brown instead, since I often find myself with only brown sugar in the house.

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Mais, certainment!

#23 lovebenton0

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 06:27 AM

Use that brown sugar! It will change the taste of your cake a bit, giving it a slight bit of a caramel-like undertone. Not a bad thing in my opinion, depending on what you want. You may not notice a color change -- which would be slight with light brown sugar. It will also be a bit moister, not a bad thing either. :biggrin:
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#24 Tepee

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 07:59 AM

I'm wondering....is brown sugar less sweet? Is that why the recipe calls for a packed cup of sugar when it's brown? Personally, I love brown sugar.
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#25 lovebenton0

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 08:04 AM

I'm wondering....is brown sugar less sweet? Is that why the recipe calls for a packed cup of sugar when it's brown? Personally, I love brown sugar.

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It's less dense when spooned into a measure. White sugar "packs" itself as there is no moisture to make it "fluffy."
Judith Love

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#26 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 09:14 AM

There are many cakes that I prefer to make with brown sugar. Dense cakes, like pound cakes, seem to lend themselves to the molassses flavors found there. I just replace 1/1 for the other kinds of sugar called for.
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#27 maxmillan

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 10:01 PM

I try to make everything with brown sugar. I place white sugar in the food processor and slowly add good quality organic molasses to the desired deepness. This is way better than store bought. I make a batch at a time and never have to buy two kinds of sugar. The white sugar sack is generally cheaper, especially when it's on sale and this saves me a bundle when I make my own.

#28 Sobaicecream

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Posted 12 December 2004 - 01:39 AM

Sounds like a resounding, "Yes, brown sugar is good" I'm glad cause I never buy white sugar except for baking, and I do prefer the taste of brown.

I just wondered, since brown sugar seems to melt quicker, whether white sugar would make for a fluffier, taller cake?

#29 lovebenton0

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Posted 12 December 2004 - 02:00 AM

Brown sugar does tend to give cakes a bit more density -- I'm thinking the added moisture factor as well. I have not seen that it is apprecialbly different in general usage. However, if you are baking a lighter/airier cake you might be more pleased with following the original recipe. I would say that you gotta try it and see. For a standard marble cake, as you inquired about originally, I wouldn't hesitate to use the light brown sugar. There is a bit of trade-off . . . a bit taller with white than brown, but the brown gives you a moister cake. Your eggs will effect this as well as the sugar.
Judith Love

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One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

#30 Sobaicecream

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Posted 12 December 2004 - 09:01 AM

For a standard marble cake, as you inquired about originally, I wouldn't hesitate to use the light brown sugar. There is a bit of trade-off . . .  a bit taller with white than brown, but the brown gives you a moister cake. Your eggs will effect this as well as the sugar.

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Okay, Judith, will take your advice and use brown. Thanks again!