The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Does powdered sugar have more cornstarch in it lately?

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clazar123's picture
clazar123

Does powdered sugar have more cornstarch in it lately?

It seems to me that the last few years, the cookies I make with butter and powdered sugar are drier than they used to be. Is there more cornstarch and less sugar than in years past? Perhaps as a cost saving measure? Is there a standard or somewhere I can find out this information?

Specifiacally it was a shortbread recipe with butter,powdered sugar,vanilla,salt and flour. Simple recipe but the dough seems drier than in years past.

I never used to weigh ingredients so the suggestion to weigh ingredients is pointless right now as I'm comparing the recipe as it has always been and I have always made-and it is in cups and teaspoons.

 

carltonb's picture
carltonb

I buy Powdered Sugar in 50 lb bags, usually 400 to 500 lbs at a time. The brands that my supplier sends to me very slightly in consistency. The processors very the cornstarch within a certain tolerance zone.

I have been told that it evens varies by region. If you are in a more humid climate then the percentage may be higher. I do not know if the store bought sugar changes per season, but many of my products are manufactured to tolerate seasonal variations.

Chef Carlton Brooks CCE, CEPC

gerhard's picture
gerhard

There are some powdered sugars for purposes like powder used on donuts that they don't want to dissolve and become sticky, the variety we used was named snow sugar.  It looks exactly like icing sugar but because of the high starch content it doesn't dissolve well in water and isn't very sweet.  I wonder if you got some variation of powdered sugar meant for such a purpose.

Gerhard

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I noticed this effect the last few years when I made this particular cookie recipe. I may try a brand name to see if it makes a difference and do some observations of the 2 samples (generic and brand name).

I wonder what the tolerances are for the amount of cornstarch in powdered sugar? It would be interesting to hear if there was a legal definition of powdered sugar in the USA.

Edit: I just read that it can contain up to 3% cornstarch but there are no sources quoted.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

I don't know how much you use but icing sugar is just granulated sugar ground to a fine powder, why not try to do this in a food processor?  I need a very fine salt for popcorn and use to be able to buy it from our popcorn supplier but now they only carry it with butter flavour and an orange food colour so we have been been running kosher salt for 5 minutes or so in a food processor to get the same thing without the additives.

Gerhard

nalowelch's picture
nalowelch

Yes, I noticed it too. Usually I buy name brand, but found myself buying the generic brand the other day. When I went to make my signature sugar cookie frosting, it was terrible. I kept adding more vanilla and butter, and I just couldn't figure out why it tasted so bland. Then I tasted the powdered sugar..... yuck!!! Tasteless, useless stuff. I threw it all away and went out to buy the name brand once again only to find it too had less taste than it used to. Although it is better than the generic brand, I am really disappointed. The package should say exactly how much cornstarch is in there so we know what we are buying.