The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


lachefesse's picture


Hi everyone, I'm wondering what's the deal with sugar...Can I use raw sugar for both brown and white sugar? Is it really necessary to buy white sugar, brown sugar and dark brown sugar when I go to the store? I'm trying to stay away from processed foods.

pmccool's picture

What does a recipe require to produce a specific flavor in the finished product?  Do you want your lemon meringue pie to have a hint of molasses flavor because you used brown sugar instead of white?  Will you mind if the meringue itself is sort of off-white instead of glossy white if you make it with something other than white sugar?  Will chocolate chip cookies taste quite as rich if you use entirely white sugar and no brown sugar?  And so on.

To be a bit more direct in answering your question, no, it is not necessary to have different kinds of sugar on hand.  The caveat is that you may not be happy with the outcome in your baked goods if you use something other than what is called for.  And flavor is only one component of several that is affected by the choice of sugar.


lachefesse's picture

Ok, so can raw sugar be used as a good substitute for brown sugar? Does it have the same amount of molasses in it as the brown sugar but just not as refined? I'm wondering if I made chocolate chip cookies with only raw sugar if I would have the same "flavor" outcome since the recipe always asks for equal parts of both sugars. By the way, I would definitely stick with the white sugar for delicate deserts like lemon merengue pie and others. But since I don't make those too often, I'm thinking I'd like to get a big bag of raw sugar and then add molasses where its needed for light and dark brown sugar. That's just my thought.. I'm just tired of having to buy white, brown, dark brown and raw sugar almost every other week. I bake a lot!

Yerffej's picture

I am assuming that by "raw sugar" you mean whole unrefined cane sugar.  There are few sugars that actually meet that description.  For example, Sucanet is refined, taken apart and then reassembled into "whole" sugar. 

There is whole unrefined sugar available and it not only works well in chocolate chip cookies,  it is great in them.  I also use it in brownies or any other treat of similar description.   As Paul noted it is not so great in a meringue !  There I use white organic sugar.  I do not buy brown sugar, light or dark.


lachefesse's picture

Thank you so much your answer, it was very helpful! Its so interesting that it has such health benefits to it too! (in moderation of course lol) So I will order the whole unrefined sugar in bulk and just use that while keeping some white sugar on hand for the fancy recipes. 

Thank you!!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Raw sugar to me is fresh pressed cane juice, agave juice or palm sugar juice or maple tree sap.  Other than honey, these sugars are all processed by us to be able to use them.   These raw sugars contain a great amount of water so each goes thru a process so that we can store it, measure it and use it easily.  It is refined or concentrated by heating, evaporating & darkening until crystals form.  This is then put into a centrifuge and the crystals are separated from the thick syrup that surrounds the crystals.  The crystal sugar can be further processed and refined until it is dry, pure white, tastes sweet and looses much of its original flavour. 

In chocolate chip cookies, a certain flavour from brown cane sugar is desired.  This brown sugar still has a certain amount of molasses around the sugar crystals easy to tell by the darkness of the sugar.  If you used light brown sugar in your cookie recipe you do not need both white and brown sugar.  If you have dark brown, dilute with white sugar.  It all comes down to having some of the molasses flavour without too much of it.  So mix and blend to your liking.  It is also possible to use only refined white sugar and add a small amount of molasses to get the same flavour.

If "trying to stay away from processed foods," avoid packaged sugars, they are all "processed" including the honey. 

lachefesse's picture

Yeah i guess I meant whole unrefined sugar instead of raw..I wasn't meaning the juice..Thank you for explaining the process for processing the sugar, that was  very helpful. I think I can achieve the desired taste in choc chip cookies by using the whole sugar with some added molasses! Does that make sense? This way you have some of the health benefits of whole sugar as well as the convenience and taste of crystalized sugar.

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

My own experience with suger in the raw is that it has a very different effect on baked goods than does white suger. In quick breads and coffee cakes it yields a much tougher and coarser crumb. To me, at least, the results are unacceptable.

The effect on yeast raised breads seems less dramatic.

I'd be curious to hear other folks' opinions on this.