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Sugar: brown or white granulated?
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 5:07 pm    Post subject: Sugar: brown or white granulated? Reply with quote

Clotilde's blog entry on sorbet makes me think how often, when a recipe specifies granulated sugar, I go for brown sugar or part brown sugar instead. It adds so much flavor.

Sometimes, of course, it's too much for what should be a delicate flavor or where another flavor doesn't want the competition. And dark brown (if you can still find it) may be too much. But I think all kinds of cookies, quickbreads and even ice cream (which was how the blog entry provoked the thought) benefit immensely.

In the US we have (simplifying, of course) white granulated cane sugar and white granulated cane with some (light brown) and more (dark brown) molasses added back into the refined sugar. We can also get turbinado and muscovado but they're in less common use. Don't know how it's done in other cultures.
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm-- one recipe I have--a blackberry and apple (golden delicious only) crisp--I would not try with brown sugar--molasses would interfere with the fruit. But apples with cinnamon in a crisp, I use brown. Corn bread made with brown sugar--could be good! Coleslaw, no. (?) But any meat or poultry or barbeque that uses sugar would probably be better with brown.

Would the unique texture of an angel food cake be changed by brown sugar?

The brown sugar ice cream Rainey recently pointed out --
http://www.indiatree.com/recipes/other/ice-cream.html
is made with muscovado sugar, which I think is what brown sugar should be--way less refined than what probably most of us buy.

This all makes me think of upcoming fall--squash and pumpkin and such.
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kathryn



Joined: 26 Nov 2005
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:10 am    Post subject: sugars Reply with quote

I personally always use unrefined cane sugar in the US - I love the extra flavor it gives to cookies, fruit crisps and cakes. It's like a secret ingredient thatl makes everything taste so much deeper. It's not as strong as brown sugar, but definitely more nuanced than the white processed kind. When you open a packet of it, it smells simply wonderful! Smile
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Raven



Joined: 07 Apr 2006
Posts: 46
Location: Vermont, USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gingerpale wrote:
Corn bread made with brown sugar--could be good!


gingerpale, I have trouble imagining corn bread made with any kind of sugar at all. Could you elaborate?
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Busted! Smile I use the recipe on the back of the corn meal box--(Albers).

It specifies 1/4 cup sugar, and I like it sprinkled with sugar on top too, for a slight 'crusty' top. Add butter and serve hot. We have it for breakfast, like sweet rolls.
Surely I'm not the only one?

Curious, I just looked in "The Taste of Country Cooking" by Edna Lewis. According to this cookbook she was raised in Virginia on a farm, and her recipes for
cornbread,
corn muffins,
and corn pone (which I've never had)
do NOT contain sugar!
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msue



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was told once that the sweet vs. unsweet cornbread rule in the U.S. typically falls along North/South lines. Supposedly as you go farther north, there is more sugar in the cornbread. Historically, cornbread made in the North was more cake-like, and cornbread made in the south was savory. However, there was often just a touch of sugar even in Southern cornbread, perhaps both for flavor and for browning.

Since recipes are passed down and people (especially these days) are mobile, the North/South divison may not hold anymore.

I'd be really curious about the experiences of others here, particularly other U.S. cooks since my theory is based on U.S. geography. My own grandmother made southern style cornbread, not sweet at all, usually with buttermilk, and a little hot bacon fat.

Oooh, that sizzle!
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anybody ever have spoonbread? It sounds like moist (sweet!) cornbread, puddinglike, but I've never tried it. I suppose you could use brown sugar in something like that.

Kathryn, "unrefined cane sugar" is also called Muscovado?
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can see where blackberry and apple wouldn't need a dark sugar, but apple crumble with muscovado sugar is rich flavoured and gorgeous. Hot crumble with cream was always called 'Sleepy Pudding' in our house because forty winks was always needed after it.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
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Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alas! My husband doesn't like cornbread so I don't do it a lot. But Marie Callender has made a franchise (restaurants and packaged mixes) of her cornbread that's basically a yellow cake with cornmeal added.

I like it thin with coarse cornmeal and maybe just a hint of sweetness. I also love the "corn cake" you get in some Mexican restaurants out here. Could that be related to "spoonbread"?

Unlike our brown sugar which is refined first and then has molasses (the bi-product of refining) added back in, turbinado, demerrera and moscovado are unrefined or only partially refined. Moscovado is the darkest and most moist of them. I have no idea if the names relate to the processing or the type of sugar cane they come from or if they're regional names.

Then, as kathryn says, there's natural cane sugar. When I lived in Florida it was more common than I've seen on the West Coast — tho Whole Foods has it.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
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Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, that muscovado ice cream is wonderful. It takes full advantage of the rich, musky flavor of the sugar and is not hard to do.

I haven't made it since last summer. As I recall there may be some straining involved but, if I'm just making it for the family, I make sure not to include the chalazae (that white fibrous part of the albumen) and then I don't bother to strain the custard.

Yup! Sometimes I'm a lazy cook but no one in the family's sued me yet. As long as I keep makin' good stuff they pretty much lap it up and lay off the litigation.
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Raven



Joined: 07 Apr 2006
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Location: Vermont, USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

msue:

My mother was from North Carolina, and her cornbread recipe contains no sugar at all (or flour either - the horror!). I am familiar with Northern ways of making cornbread, but their ways are not my ways (even though I have never lived in the South and consider myself a Yankee).

gingerpale:

As for spoonbread, again I invoke my mother's recipe. It is like a souffle with cornmeal added. Essentially you make cornmeal mush, then treat that as you would a souffle base, adding egg yolks and then beaten egg whites. Again, no sugar, no flour. It is not a dessert but is good for lunch with a salad, or for dinner instead of potatoes or rice.
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african vanielje



Joined: 13 Aug 2007
Posts: 3
Location: Somerset, UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gingerpale, the texture of angel cake would definitely be change. It is so delicate and sugar is not just about the taste. The finer the grind the lighter it is and the more easily absorbed. This is why baking that benefits from not being overmixed is often better with caster sugar rather than just plain granulated. Having said that, I too am a fan of the darker unrefined sugars. At one stage all I had in the house was molasses sugar for my Wholemeal seed loaf and had no choice but to offer it to guests for coffee. One of them still drinks his coffee with molasses sugar as he became hooked on the distinctive taste. Demerrara is often very good for streusel toppings and the top of crumbles as it crisps quickly
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

african vanielje-- yes, I was afraid it would be impossible to have angelfood texture with brown sugar flavor. It would probably be chewy?--well, non-celestial, anyway!

Does your beautiful name mean African Vanilla? Is it Dutch? So pretty!
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african vanielje



Joined: 13 Aug 2007
Posts: 3
Location: Somerset, UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gingerpale, yes vanielje is the Afrikaans ( a Southern African derivative of dutch) for vanilla . it is pronounced vah-nil-ya. Don't be too downcast about the celestial sponge cake - that's why they invented devil's food cake. I make my version with soft dark brown sugar (the kind that crawls in teh boel like ants) and it is chocolate fudge brownie delicious.
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Ginny Spencer



Joined: 16 Aug 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Sugar: brown or white granulated? Reply with quote

I agree with you that the brown sugar no doubt enhances the flavor due to its carbonic nature...during my last visit of UK, I went to Cafe India
(cafeindia.just-eat.co.uk) and I was served the dessert made with sweetner, which was made out of dates...it was heavenly as the dish was delicious and had a distinct flavour. Rolling Eyes

Rainey wrote:
Clotilde's blog entry on sorbet makes me think how often, when a recipe specifies granulated sugar, I go for brown sugar or part brown sugar instead. It adds so much flavor.

Sometimes, of course, it's too much for what should be a delicate flavor or where another flavor doesn't want the competition. And dark brown (if you can still find it) may be too much. But I think all kinds of cookies, quickbreads and even ice cream (which was how the blog entry provoked the thought) benefit immensely.

In the US we have (simplifying, of course) white granulated cane sugar and white granulated cane with some (light brown) and more (dark brown) molasses added back into the refined sugar. We can also get turbinado and muscovado but they're in less common use. Don't know how it's done in other cultures.


Last edited by Ginny Spencer on Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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