Comprehensive information about sugar

Comprehensive information about sugar


The purpose of this paper is to gather comprehensive information about sugar, with regard to its application in the baking industry. Mainly, the intention will be to understand the effects of sugar, as a primary ingredient in baking and pastry.


Historically, sugar was first produced from sugarcane in India at around first century. It is in India that the process of sugar cane juice granulation to produce sugar was first discovered.  Through cross-border travels, the sugar making technology had spread to other parts of the world by the end of the 6th century. Today, Brazil is the world’s largest producers of sugarcane and its by-products, globally. Other countries that produce sugarcane in large-scale include; India, China, and Thailand. Sugarcane is harvested at the height of about 2 to 4 meters. It takes about six months to full maturity.  In large scale sugar farming, harvesting is mainly done using self-propelled sugarcane harvesting machines. The machine cut the sugarcane stalk at the ground level, removes the leafy top and chops it into small pieces before loading it into trucks for transportation to the factory.


At the sugar manufacturing factory, the sugarcane undergoes various preparation processes before the actual sugar extraction. First, the canes are thoroughly cleaned and shredded into small pieces.  After the sheering, juice is mechanically extracted from the sugarcane. The raw juice is then mixed with water and pumped to a high-pressure boiler. In the boiler, the juice is heated and very high temperatures and mixed with a combination of milk of lime and sulphur dioxide. At this stage, more refined juice is produced and sent into another stage for crystallization. In this stage, sugar crystals are crushed into the required sizes and molasses is extracted.  Molasses produced in sugar manufacturing is used in by brewers in alcohol manufacturing.

The sugar produced at this stage is golden brown in color. To produce high-grade sugar, which is pure and fit for consumption, the raw sugar has to undergo a refining process. In this process, plant fibers, molasses molecules, and other foreign materials are removed to attain pure white sugar crystals. After the white sugar crystals are manufactured, the sugar is ready and safe for household uses. However, the sugar may still undergo further refining process to make other varieties of sugar. For instance, the white sugar maybe powdered to produces powdered sugar (icing sugar). The same sugar may also be undertaken through the liquidation process, with the help of other ingredients, to come up with sugar syrup. Basically, sugar refinement may be undertaken differently depending on the intended final product.

Varieties of sugar used in baking

Listed below are some of the most common varieties of sugar used in baking and pastry;

  1. Granulated sugar

This is the most common sugar variety. It is often referred to as white sugar. This variety is popular for baking, and other home uses since it does not bake together. It’s thus perfect for measuring and dissolving into liquids.

  1. Icing sugar

Basically, this is powdered white sugar. It’s is also referred to as confectioners’ sugar. In the baking industry, this type of sugar is used for making icing, fillings, and frostings.

  1. Coarse sugar

This type of sugar has a little bit bigger crystals than the regular sugar. Due to its large-sized crystals, this type of sugar is stronger and more heat resistant. This type of sugar mainly comes in rainbow colors and thus its commonly used to give the pastry a little texture and for decoration purposes.

  1. Sanding sugar

This is another variety of large-grained sugar its crystals are a little bigger than those of granulated sugar but a little smaller than those of coarse sugar. It is also used for decorating purposes, especially to give the pastry a certain sparkly look.

  1. Brown sugar

Brown sugar is basically white sugar with some traces of molasses in it. In baking, brown sugar is mainly used to make sauces and glazes.

  1. Inverted sugar

Inverted sugar is made by adding glucose to a concoction of regular table sugar and water.  Inverted sugar is said to have a higher sweetness value than ordinary sugar. It is also relative easier for use in the baking process.

  1. Caster sugar

This sugar variety is a little bit finer than ordinary granulated sugar. This specific sugar variety is used in making pastries like muffins and cookies. This is because its dissolution in liquids is much quicker thus making a more uniform batter.

  1. Pearl sugar

This type of sugar is specifically used for decoration purposes. This type of sugar is made my polishing of large crystals of sugar until they attain the resemblance of opaque pearl crystals. It’s mainly used in decorating waffles.

In sugar, the degree of hardness at various boiling stages is determined by the size of the sugar crystals. Therefore, sugar verities with larger crystals are harder than those with small crystals. The cost of all the varieties of sugar varies depending on various factors. Some of these factors include; geographical region, the manufacturer and a country’s economy.


Purity is the most essential of sugar’s qualities. For this reason, its storage, both at home and in the manufacturer’s warehouses of great importance. Sugar contamination is very hazardous to human health. Storage of sugar should be compliance with standard temperature and humidity conditions.  Sugars can be stored in two different for, solid crystals and liquid syrups. In large scale, crystal sugar should be stored in woven plastic bags which are impenetrable by moisture and in a cool, dry place. At home, sugar should be stored in airtight containers to avoid any contact with moisture during storage. Syrup sugar, on the other hand, should be stored in bottled containers. The packaging of sugar for distribution and retail is also of very great concern. The most recommendable way of packaging sugar for distribution and retail is the use of plastic bags. These bags are mainly recommended due to the fact that they are airtight and thus do not allow moisture to affect the purity of the sugar.

Uses of sugar in baking

Sugar plays various roles as an ingredient in the baking process. The most common role of sugar in baking is to act as a sweetener. In various recipes, sugar is added to other ingredients to add sweetness to the final product. Besides sweetening, some verities of sugar, like icing sugar, are added onto a cake for purposes of decoration. Sugar also plays a big role in keeping pastries soft and moist. The sugar-water bond makes sure that baked products like cakes and muffins do not dry out too quickly. Sugar products are also used in the fermentation process, which is essential in baking. In the fermentation process, the role of sugars is to activate the yeast, which is the most common fermentation agent in baking. Sugar also contributes to the beautiful brown color on most pasties. It is also the role of sugar do add crunchiness in baked food products.

The table below provides the relative sweetness values of various sweeteners, as compared to sucrose, which has a sweetness value of 100.

sweetener    Relative sweetness value

Dextrose (Glucose)    74

Fructose    110

Galactose      60

Invert Sugar      70 – 90

Maltose      50

Ordinary sugar    100



Effects of sugar in bread baking

Sugar is a key ingredient in the baking of most types of bread. Just like in baking of other pastries, sugar is mainly used in bread making as a sweetener. Additionally, sugar also plays a very vital role in the process of yeast fermentation, which is very vital in the bread baking process. Through absorption of moisture, sugar also helps maintain the softness of bread for some time. In the baking process, sugar is oxidized in a process referred to as caramelization. Through the process, the browning of the outer crust of the bread is achieved. Sugar also plays a vital role in bread preservation, dues to the presence of sugar, a bread remains fresher for a relatively long time.

Just like in other pastries, sugar in bread has its negative effects too. For instance, research shows that sugar has an addiction. Additionally, addiction to sugar is a predisposing factor to health conditions like obesity, diabetes and some heart conditions. Studies have also shown that high sugar intake has an impact on cholesterol levels in the human body. Dentists have also proven that the leading cause of teeth cavities and other teeth related illnesses is sugar, especially from pastries and candy.

Bread recipe

Below is a recipe for homemade bread baked used industry standards;


  • A packet of certified dry yeast (A quarter ounce)
  • A quarter cup of relatively warm water
  • Four tablespoon sugar
  • One tablespoon salt
  • Three tablespoon canola oil
  • Six three-quarter cups of certified all-purpose flour


  1. In a bowl, add yeast in warm water and stir to dissolve. To three cups of sugar, add salt and sugar and mix it with the water. Beat until the mixture smoothens. Continuously add ½ cup of sugar to the mixture while beating it. Beat until smooth dough is formed.
  2. For 8 to 10 minutes, knead the dough on a floured surface until it gets smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it once to ensure all the parts of the dough are greased. Cover it in a warm place for about one and a half hours.
  3. Pour the dough into a lightly floured surface and punch it down. Divide it into two and shape it into loaves. Place each loaf-shaped dough into a greased 9×5 loaf pan. Cover it leave it to rise for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Bake the two loaves at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. After 35 minutes, the bread should be golden brown and should sound hollow when tapped.
  5. Remove from pan and leave them to cool.


The information on the cost of sugar provided in this section will be drawn from the current market rate of sugar in the United States of America. As at December 2018, the average retail price of ordinary granulated sugar in the USA stood at 65.36 U.S cents per Pound. However, the cost had little variations from one state to another and depending on various factors like; the manufacturer and the retailer. The same case applies to other varieties of sugar, their cost per kilogram varied from one retailer to another.


From the information provided in this paper, one can clearly tell that sugar is an important commodity in a person’s day to day life. It is also clear that sugar can be manufactured in deferent forms depending on its intended use. In baking, specifically, sugar has quite a number of uses. However, it is justified to say that sugar is mainly used a pastry sweetener; the most popular pastry sweetener. The paper has also highlighted the importance of sugar purity and how failure to maintain purity may have detrimental effects on the quality of the sugar. In conclusion, the paper has provided a detailed exposition on various issues revolving around the production and use of sugar in the baking and pastry industry. From the paper, one can also clearly understand the importance and the effects that sugar has on various pastry products and their consumers.


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