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Granulated sugar 101

regular and superfine granulated sugar containers with measuring cups

If you're fans, like us, of the Great British Baking Show, you've heard about caster sugar and wondered about it. Here's our breakdown of the three main types of granulated white sugars and when to use them.

Standard Granulated Sugar

This medium-sized grainy sugar is the work horse in US kitchens. It's readily available, cheap and works well for creaming with butter. Use it in most recipes for cakes, cookies, as well as jams and sauces.

Caster or Superfine Sugar

Caster sugar also goes by the names baker’s sugar and superfine sugar. It's a finer granulated sugar somewhere between regular granulated and powdered sugar. It's harder to find in many US locations and is much more expensive than regular granulated. 

Caster sugar is ideal for dissolving in ice cold beverages as well as seamlessly blending into frosting, glazes, whipped cream and meringues. Caster sugar brings sweetness without any of the textural graininess of coarser types of sugars. 

It also requires a little different handling if you're using for creaming (use slightly cooler butter and beat for a shorter period and at lower speeds so you don't melt the butter and lose the air you're trying to incorporate).

You can make your own superfine sugar by grinding it in food processor or high-powered blender until the grains are about half the size. Keep an eye on it - if you overprocess, you can end up with powdered sugar.

Pure Cane Sugar

This coarse grain sugar is often what you get when you buy organic granulated sugar. We've tried it in various recipes, and find that it doesn't work well for creaming. That "light and fluffy" goal is difficult and sometimes impossible to achieve because the grains are so large you end up melting the butter and losing the air you're working to add in, which leads to heavy, dense baked goods.

This sugar, as is, is great for rolling sugar cookies and sprinkling for a crunchy top. We recommend that if you'd like to use this sugar for baking, you grind it up in a food processor or high-powered blender  until the granules are smaller. Even if there is still a variation in size, it will work well for baking.