Decorating By galaglow Updated 15 Apr 2005 , 4:45am by ump107

galaglow Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 4:36pm
post #1 of 25

I just read that Dawn sifts her sugar 5 times!! I am slacking off icon_smile.gif I didn't know you should sift the sugar at all...I'm guess I'm basically lazy, so I need to know if you all think it makes that much difference...he he!

24 replies
m0use Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 4:39pm
post #2 of 25

MHO- I personally do not sift, I don't like to and my icing has turned out fine.

LAA Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 4:46pm
post #3 of 25

What is the purpose behind sifting, especially with confectioners sugar? When I do sift, I do get a finer end result, but does it really matter?

What I do know about sifting is that it makes my hand tired. thumbsdown.gif


melissablack Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 4:49pm
post #4 of 25

Where I live, if I have an opened bag of sugar, it will get lumps in it because of the humidity, so I have to sift it, but if I'm using a whole, unopened bag then I, too, am too lazy to sift it!

galaglow Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 4:51pm
post #5 of 25

Aha, I never thought about humidity being a factor - mostly it's pretty dry where I am - maybe that's why nobody I know around here sifts...although I do remember my grandmother used to sift her flour and as a child, I USED TO think it was fun!

linnburg Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 5:06pm
post #6 of 25

I use a battery powered sifter. It is slow, but really saves my aching hands! Another way to go is to use a sieve. I usually don't sift powdered sugar from an unopened bag, but once the bag is opened, lumps can form, so its better to sift than be sorry!


BJ Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 6:17pm
post #7 of 25

I always sift. I do alot of small detail piping and there's nothing worse than a clogged tip when your doing lace work. It's a pain in the you know where especially when the cloud forms over you while sifting and there's sugar everywhere including your nose - but oh, that cake looks good! thumbs_up.gif

Lisa Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 6:25pm
post #8 of 25

I don't ever sift. I'm a bag squeezer icon_smile.gif . When I go to buy my powdered sugar, I squeeze the bag to make sure it's light and airy...not hard or lumpy. I buy it in two pound bags and use it all at one time so I don't have any leftovers which could lump-up.

thecakemaker Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 6:28pm
post #9 of 25

A battery powered sifter ~ wow! I didn't know they made them. Where did you get it?


SquirrellyCakes Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 7:18pm
post #10 of 25

I sift. Nearly always, not if I am in a hurry and it isn't a special decorated cake, but the rest of the time.
Part of the reason I sift is due to the possiblity of lumps as the corn starch in the icing sugar doesn't always do its job.
The main reason, however, is that the finer the icing sugar, the easier it is to incorporate it into the shortening and butter. High ratio shortening and really fine sifted sugar is the best way of getting the smoothest icing possible. It really makes a difference, not so much in taste, but in texture. The shortening is such that it can absorb the sugar much better.
However since I use Crisco and butter, I take that extra step of sifting the sugar and I do find a difference in how it turns out.
I also sift it before I measure it out, which means that you are using less sugar, because it isn't packed. My recipe is designed for this.
Where it could be really important, is in any type of a cooked or heated icing. In these icings, any lumps will not dissolve, leaving you with little lumps of white.
Some sugars are more susceptible to lumps. ones that are not sieved as finely, beet sugar which is more susceptible to grit due to the processing.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

llj68 Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 7:29pm
post #11 of 25

You know--a cheater way to sift is to put the sugar in a large bowl and using a whisk--whisk it. Martha Stewart taught me this. This and how to fold sheets--she rocks!

Anyway--I always sift everything using this method and have had no problems whatsoever. It's quicker and easier on the hands.


SquirrellyCakes Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 7:38pm
post #12 of 25

Hey kiddo, it works very well to get rid of any lumps doesn't it? But it will not change the size of the particles of the sugar so for that purpose, it does't work.
The sifters with the turny thing on top work a lot easier than the squeeze handle ones, those are killers. Or using a spoon to press it through or shaking it, a fine sieve works too.
I like Martha's method to get rid of the huge lumps that some cakemixes, like Betty Crocker White, have.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

llj68 Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 8:03pm
post #13 of 25
Originally Posted by SquirrellyCakes

Hey kiddo, it works very well to get rid of any lumps doesn't it? But it will not change the size of the particles of the sugar so for that purpose, it does't work.
The sifters with the turny thing on top work a lot easier than the squeeze handle ones, those are killers. Or using a spoon to press it through or shaking it, a fine sieve works too.
I like Martha's method to get rid of the huge lumps that some cakemixes, like Betty Crocker White, have.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

True--I just SO hate all the "sugar dust" all over the kitchen! LOL! I have wood floors in the kitchen (something I would NOT recommend, btw) and it just seems to stick. I have a huge sieve and it just gets everywhere.

My mom has one of those handle turny thing ones--I used to LOVE to sift her sugar as a kid. Hmmm, maybe that's why she had me do it? I would bet that my 5 year old would love it--maybe I'll give it a whirl (pun intended!)

I have one of the squeeze ones and absolutely HATE it--it just kills my hands and I end up just dumping the sugar into the bowl anyway. I really should garage sale it.

Question, though. Because you sift before you measure, is your icing less sweet? I'm still fooling with my bc icing and am trying to figure out how to make it a bit less sweet.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 8:26pm
post #14 of 25

Haha, yes those cranky ones should be outlawed!
Well, actually the only way I know of making icing taste less sweet is to use butter in the mixture and I think the fact I use salted butter, well the salt makes it less sweet. I find that the all shortening recipe tastes sweeter to me.
Actually by presifting it before measuring, I end up using less sugar, I use 5 cups of sifted before you measure with the 1/2 cup salted butter, 1/2 cup Crisco and I use 1.5 tsp. vanilla and 2 tbsp. pf unwhipped whipping cream, then whole milk to thin it out. I have used as much as 6 cups, but generally it is easier to decorate with the 5 cups, for most people. I guess it amounts to me using close to 4-4.5 if it wasn't re-sifted. For roses, I usually make up the all shortening one. But since I have a tendancy to only do fondant roses, I rarely do this. You can use this icing for roses though, it is just sometimes easier for folks to do the other recipe for them.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

tcturtleshell Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 8:35pm
post #15 of 25

I never sift unless I have lumps in the sugar. But like Melissa said.. in La. we have a lot of humidity so the sugar is usually lumpy. If it's no lumpy I usually just dump the sugar in my mixing bowl & use the whisk attachement & turn it on low. Just in case. I have one kitchen aid but I have bought 4 other bowls for it!! So I can get away with putting it in a bowl to mix.

galaglow Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 9:14pm
post #16 of 25

I think I'll stick to my 'no sifting' policy, unless somebody complains that is - then I might change my mind. icon_smile.gif

CarolAnn Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 9:51pm
post #17 of 25

I don't sift. Matter of fact I got rid of my sifter a long time ago. I just see no reason to do it. I don't see any difference whether I do or not. I sometimes have a partial bag of confectioners sugar that I use for this or that but for my icings I always open a fresh fluffy bag and use it all at once and it never has lumps. As for too sweet icings I use the pinch of popcorn salt I learned about in class and it takes the too sweet edge off my icing. I get compliments all the time because my icing isn't as sweet as people are used to. I bet using salted butter would work the same. The salt takes the edge off the sweetness.

When I bake with flour I shake the jar I keep it in to fluff it up then I measure. It works the same as sifting as far as I'm concerned. I thought briefly about getting a crank sifter for the grandaughters to use when we bake but then again they can enjoy stirring too so I'll save my money on that one.

MrsMissey Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 9:54pm
post #18 of 25

I don't sift either..just don't find it necessary. I buy the 4# bags of powdered sugar and bounce it on the counter a couple of times and then use the whole bag at one time. Haven't had a problem so far!!

CarolAnn Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 9:58pm
post #19 of 25

Good golly, I've never even sen a 4# bag!! Maybe at Sam's Club or someplace like that. I buy the 2#'s for $1 each. Easy to store anyway. Ü

MrsMissey Posted 14 Apr 2005 , 10:03pm
post #20 of 25

Yep....Bj's Wholesale has the 4# bag for $2.09 and I usually get the whole case, since I live so far from civilization!

ump107 Posted 15 Apr 2005 , 3:25am
post #21 of 25

I sifted when I first started but now unless there are obvious lumps in my sugar or flour I dont sift. The sifter I have is pretty much trash, it is the squeeze type sifter and it doesnt work very well (get what you pay for at the dollar store). I have however started to weigh my ingredients I have found that my mixes turn out a bit better when I weigh them I think its because the amounts are more accurate.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 15 Apr 2005 , 4:04am
post #22 of 25

You likely already know this, but weighing the ingredients only works when your recipe is set up for that. So you have to adjust your recipe.
Weighing the ingredients is the way that commercial bakers and some European countries make their recipes. Generally in Canada and the U.S, recipes are set up to be measured in both dry and liquid measuring cups and teaspoons etc. So if a recipe calls for 8 ounces of flour or icing sugar or such, you cannot expect 8 ounces weight of these items to be the same as a 1 cup which is 8 ounces, measure. Cups go by displacement or volume whereas this is not the same thing as by weight.
A good example of this is 1 pound =16 ounces, correct? Two cups=16 ounces. Yet there are approximately 4 cups by dry measure of icing sugar in one pound by weight.
So generally, if you are going to weigh your ingredients, you must first figure out the weight of the dry measure ingredients to be accurate.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

MrsMissey Posted 15 Apr 2005 , 4:13am
post #23 of 25

..I agree Squirrelly is a long and tedious process, but well worth the efforts! I have recalculated all my recipes in "weights", much more consistent results!

SquirrellyCakes Posted 15 Apr 2005 , 4:33am
post #24 of 25

I bet it was a lot of work Mrs. Missey, I know when my daughter took a commercial baking course, we converted her commercial recipes from weight to measuring cups and holy cow, this was a lot of trouble. It truly is more accurate as long as your scale is really accurate. The commercial baking scales cost about $600 here, so I think it will be awhile before I rush right out and get one, haha! I had used my regular kitchen scale, but I don't trust the results enough when it comes to the weight of salt and such.
Hugs Squirrelly

ump107 Posted 15 Apr 2005 , 4:45am
post #25 of 25

You are correct the volume measurements do need to be converted to weight. I have been done the conversions for my recipes that I use most often and will get to all of them eventually, it is time consuming to convert the recipes over to weight however as MrsMissey said the results are more consistent. I was also fortunate that my scale came with a conversion chart for the most common ingredients, this speeds up the process a little bit.

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