Brown Sugar (Light)

Mass-market American brown sugar is a refinery sugar, made by re-melting and re-crystallizing the sugar supplied by the original sugar miller. It may simply be a more uniform version of the raw sugar with its original molasses still on it. Alternately, it may be a white table sugar that has been “painted” with molasses. Either way, it’s a “wetter”, softer and denser sugar than most “raw” brown sugars. These brown sugars are about 90% sucrose, the remainder being glucose and fructose, minerals (including salts), water, begasse (browned bits of the sugarcane plant) and longer-chain sugars that don’t taste especially sweet on our tongues. All these combine to give brown sugar a variety of buttery, salty and caramel-like notes. Brown sugar is an acidic ingredient as the molasses it contains is high in acetic acid (which can give it some vinegar-like aromas as well).

15 thoughts on “Brown Sugar (Light)”

  1. Hi Joe,

    So brown sugar is an acidic ingredient huh? That one caught me off guard. I’ve always used a touch of brown sugar to tame the acid of my tomato sauces because it adds more flavor depth than just regular table sugar. Now I find out I’m just adding more acid to the mix. Is the acidity anything worth being concerned over when swapping table sugar for brown sugar in recipes?



    1. Hey Eva! Good question. The answer is extra acidity generally doesn’t hurt anything, so you’re good there. The main thing to consider when swapping brown sugar for white is the liquid nature of molasses, which can impact texture depending on what the recipe is like.

      Thanks for that!

      – Joe

  2. Huh – this might explain why my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe calls for baking soda instead of baking powder. I’d always wondered!

      1. Hm. I think your instinct must be right, that it’s some sort of very light brown sugar, like a Demerara. Very interesting. Thanks Rachel!

        1. I ended up using half light brown sugar, and half granulated sugar. When I mixed it up, it was a nice golden color and it worked well in the recipe. Thank you again!

          1. Terrific, Rachel! Thanks for checking back in with me!

            – Joe

      2. Hi Rachel,

        I’m the one who wrote the recipe on the blog that you visited. Golden sugar is the name that a Canadian brand of sugar uses to label their light brown sugar. It’s the same thing as a light brown sugar. They call it “Golden yellow sugar” . I’ll change the name on the recipe so people don’t get confused.


  3. Today I found a bread recipe that called for golden sugar. It’s a recipe from Vancouver so I don’t know if this is a product that just isn’t sold in the US, but I figured you might be the right person to take this to since you’re running a sugar series! Have you heard of golden sugar, or know what it is? Thank you!

    1. Hey Rachel!

      Hm…not really no. Golden syrup yes. Is it sprinkled on top or added to the doughr? Also, in the recipe is it measured by weight or volume? That might give a clue.

      – Joe

      1. Oops, I hit respond on the wrong comment. It’s on the comment above this one, sorry!

  4. In South Africa we have golden sugar. It’s basically ‘unbleached’ white sugar, it looks and behaves like white sugar in recipes. It has the texture of white sugar and the colour of your light brown sugar (which we do not have). So from a bread baking point of view I would just replace it with white sugar with no impact at all.

  5. Joe, don’t know if you’re still monitoring this post, but the two links in the comments send you to a site of pornography.

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