I remember when I started baking and being told that baking is a science, its not like cooking where you can throw a little bit of this or that and it will probably be a taste sensation. You have to stick to the recipe or it will be a disaster! I’ve come to learn (often the hard way) that actually, you can go against the rules and shake things up if you understand how your ingredients work. So I’m going to tell you what I have learnt about different kinds of sugar when baking and how you can confidently change them around in a recipe.
Caster sugar gives a light sponge both in colour and texture. Great to use if you want a to do a Victoria sponge or something that wont colour the bake such as meringues. It creams with butter easily adding lots of air to your bake, in cookies it gives a crisp and crunchy crumb.
Light brown sugar
Using light brown sugar means you will give a richer, slightly caramel taste to your bake perfectly complimenting a recipe using nuts, chocolate or bananas. It will mean a darker appearance to the sponge. It is great to substitute in cookies as it gives a more soft and squidgy cookie on the inside but still crisp on the outside. You can substitute like for like in grams when swopping caster sugar for light brown sugar, they are similar in sweetness.
Muscavado sugar is one of my favourite sugars to use. You can use light or dark, the light option giving a deep toffee like flavour to your cakes, with the dark one offering a more treacle like taste. They don’t cream with butter as easily as caster sugar so you wont get the same light texture, it will be heavier and be denser so these sugars work great in brownies. They are sweeter than caster sugar so if substituting, reduce the sugar by 1/5th.
Sugar in a liquid form will not give you a fluffy sponge, it will be dense but very moist. It is also much sweeter so you can also reduce the amount you use by a quarter. It works very well in cakes that have fruit in and you can give a lovely rich taste by using more expensive honeys that have hints of lavender or orange to compliment your bake. in biscuits and cookies you will get a crispy crunchy bite.
This weeks I whipped up this lush strawberry and coconut cake. I was really trying struggling with how to get a strawberry taste to the buttercream without using synthetic flavourings. If you add real strawberries or jam to the buttercream, it will cause the mixture to split which makes me sad. I used freeze dried strawberry flakes which can be found in the baking section at Waitrose, they also do a raspberry option which once ground down, give frosting and butter creams a really zingy, intense flavour. The use of coconut milk and dessicated coconut mean this sponge is crumbly and moist. An absolute summer must bake!
Strawberry and coconut cake
- 300g caster sugar
- 300g softened unsalted butter
- 6 large free range eggs
- 300g self raising flour
- Pinch of salt
- 150g dessicated coconut
- 1/2 tin full fat coconut milk
- 300g unsalted butter
- 2 tubes of Waitrose dried strawberry flakes
- 400g icing sugar
- Pre heat your oven to 170 degrees. Grease and line 3x 20cm cake tins (or 2x 24cm tins)
- Add the sugar to the butter and beat until pale and fluffy, around 4-5 using an electric mixer.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Soft on the flour and fold until just incorporated, add the coconut and coconut milk and stir in gently.
- Pour equal amounts into each tin and pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes, it is ready once firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.
- As your cake is baking, making the icing. Put your raspberries in a food processor or in a pestle and mortar and grind down to a super fine powder. Add to the butter and beat until smooth. Gradually add the icing sugar until desired sweetness is achieved.
- Take one completly cool layer of sponge and level off with a serrated knife if uneven. Slather on the icing, pop on the next layer and repeat. I have decorated my cake with a sprinkle of coconut and strawberries that I have dipped in melted white chocolate. Super easy but looks great!