As simple as sugar can be, there is a wide range of sugar types on the market, and they vary greatly in terms of flavor, structure, and consistency in recipes. This is because different sugars come from different sources and are used for various purposes.
Since picking the right kind of sugar for baking can be a bit tricky, we’ve decided to help you out by comparing two of the most popular and widely available types of sugar on the market.
Today, we’ll put cane sugar vs granulated sugar baking in a head to head comparison, in order to help you pick the ideal one for your needs. Let’s dive in!
About Cane Sugar
Cane sugar is a type of sugar that is produced exclusively from sugarcane only. This sugar comes in a wide range of forms, including unrefined and refined.
This type of sugar is characterized by its lightly brown or golden shade and has an amorphous crystalline structure (doesn’t have a specific shape), which is made almost entirely of sucrose.
The crystals of the sugar are also slightly transparent when compared to other types of sugar. Similar to granulated sugar, cane sugar is also fairly granular in shape, but it goes through much less processing and refining, so the crystals are generally larger in size.
When it comes to flavor, cane sugar is quite similar to that of molasses. In fact, the less refined cane sugar is, the more it retains this rich sweet flavor.
In addition to pastry, cane sugar can be used in a wide range of desserts, including ice cream, cookies, flavored drinks, and more.
About Granulated Sugar
When we think of regular sugar, we picture white granulated sugar, as it’s the most commercially available type of sugar on the market. Unlike cane sugar, this one is made from both sugarcane and sugar beets.
In addition to using various sources for the production process, granulated sugar also goes through a much heavier process of refining to make it pure and clear.
Granulated sugar is available in both white and brown colors, which we simply call “white sugar” and “brown sugar” respectively. Both of these sugars have a smaller granule size and are fairly opaque when compared to cane sugar.
As for the flavor, granulated sugar has a clear and pure taste of sweetness that is less intense when compared to cane sugar. Ideally, white granular sugar takes the sweetness of cane sugar without the rich flavor of molasses.
This makes it extremely versatile when it comes to uses, as you can use granular sugar for a wide range of applications with excellent results.
What Is the Difference Between Cane Sugar and Granulated Sugar?
Despite having some major differences between them, it’s not easy to tell the difference between cane sugar and granulated sugar in a recipe that goes well with both.
This is because both granulated and cane sugar share a similar source, which is sugarcane. Depending on the amount of sugarcane used in the manufacturing process of the sugar, the level of similarity between them might change.
However, the main difference between the two would be the flavor. While not necessarily sweeter, cane sugar has a more impactful flavor than granular sugar, especially the white variety.
Which One Works Better in Baking and Pastry?
Ideally, both cane sugar and granulated sugar will be a great pick for baking and pastry. However, there are several factors that may impact your decision. Here are the criteria of choice when picking between cane sugar and granulated sugar:
In Terms of Flavor
As previously mentioned, the difference in flavor should be the main driving factor when it comes to picking between the two.
Cane sugar is ideal for people with a sweet tooth that prefer a sugary taste with an extra kick of molasses while granulated sugar is better for those who want to sweeten their pastries without a particular taste in the sugar.
In Terms of Simplicity
Refined sugar goes through a heavy purification process that makes it much easier to melt. For that reason, if you want a type of sugar that is easier to work with regardless of the flavor, you should go for granulated white sugar.
In Terms of Color and Aesthetics
If the recipe calls for a specific color or consistency, such as meringue or whipped cream, you might want to stick with white granulated sugar.
Granulated sugar also comes in various shades for other kinds of recipes that need a darker shade for the pastry.
Can Cane and Granulated Sugars Substitute Each Other?
The short and simple answer here is yes, cane sugar and granulated sugar are made of the same kind of sugar molecules, so they essentially have the same characteristics in terms of sweetness and general flavor.
For that reason, if you don’t have one, you can simply use the other without worrying about any major differences in the recipe outcome.
Which Type of Sugar is Healthier for People on a Diet?
While some companies market cane sugar as a healthier alternative to white sugar, they’re essentially the same from a chemical and nutritional point of view. Therefore, they have the same calories and are both broken down into glucose and fructose.
Healthier Substitutes for Both Cane Sugar and Granulated Sugar
If you want to replace either cane sugar or granulated sugar with a healthier alternative, you might want to consider any of the following options, as they’re all low or zero calories with no impact on your blood glucose level:
- Monk fruit extract
- Stevia extract
- Xylitol (not safe for pets)
- Honey and date paste (not suitable for all recipes, but can work for baking)
There you have it, a brief and comprehensive guide that walks you through all the differences between cane sugar and granulated sugar in baking.
If you prefer a smoother texture and faster recipes, granulated sugar will melt very easily and come in both brown and white varieties. However, if you want a richer flavor for your deserts that isn’t necessarily sweeter, you might want to go with cane sugar.
As you can see, both of them are suitable for the job and your personal preferences are the main tiebreakers here.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.