Cake With Brown Sugar Instead Of Granulated Sugar

Baking By vmanbakes Updated 11 Jul 2015 , 9:47pm by Claire138

vmanbakes Posted 7 Jul 2015 , 6:58pm
post #1 of 8

I was wondering if you could use brown sugar in a cake recipe instead of granulated sugar.   Alton Brown made a red velvet cake and used brown sugar instead of granulated sugar and I was wondering if anyone else has ever done that?  Most red velvet cake recipes that I have found use granulated sugar. Here is a link to Alton's recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/red-velvet-cake-recipe.html

Does the brown sugar make the cake more moist than it would be if granulated sugar was used? I am just wondering what is the purpose of using brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.

7 replies
SquirrellyCakes Posted 7 Jul 2015 , 11:13pm
post #2 of 8

Well, you are better off using the kind of sugar the cake recipe calls for because the recipe is designed around the ingredients.

The cake recipe you refer to calls for dark brown sugar. You could likely use light brown sugar and have some success but dark brown sugar contains more molasses so the taste is different. Molasses is hygroscopic which means it holds on to moisture and you do get a more moist and dense and result. So substituting light brown for dark brown sugar won't be quite as much of an issue because they both have some molasses. This recipe was designed to use dark brown sugar and there is more moisture in the dark brown.

You will note a difference in taste if you use brown instead of the white sugar called for in other cake recipes. More importantly, the acidic nature of brown sugar activates baking soda. So the leavening agents you use and the amounts you use will change. The amount of flour will also need adjusting as likely will whatever other liquids are in your recipe. If there is chocolate, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt etc, all of these ingredients interact with the acidic nature of brown sugar. Plus you cannot just substitute the same amount of one sugar for another.

None of which is to say it isn't possible to have some success, nor to discourage you from experimenting with recipes and changing out types of sugar called for. You just need to take into consideration the moisture content and acidic nature of brown sugar, along with the difference in taste.

Claire138 Posted 8 Jul 2015 , 8:53pm
post #3 of 8

I use Cane sugar for everything, I can't remember why but many years ago I bought it for something and then figured that health wise it's got to be healthier than white sugar and got in to the habit of using it. I can't remember the last time I bought white sugar and IMO the cane sugar gives a better, richer taste to the cakes even though it is more expensive.

craftybanana2 Posted 8 Jul 2015 , 9:12pm
post #4 of 8


Quote by @Claire138 on 16 minutes ago

I use Cane sugar for everything, I can't remember why but many years ago I bought it for something and then figured that health wise it's got to be healthier than white sugar and got in to the habit of using it. I can't remember the last time I bought white sugar and IMO the cane sugar gives a better, richer taste to the cakes even though it is more expensive.

Cane sugar is just a kind of white sugar..... You can get brown sugar that is molasses and cane sugar.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 8 Jul 2015 , 11:38pm
post #5 of 8

Claire138, perhaps you used the wrong term because as craftybanana2 posted, cane sugar is sugar  processed from the sugar cane plant. Raw sugar is yellow colour or sometimes brownish and is then processed at a sugar mill and turned into white sugar. There is also another kind of sugar processed from beets.

You can only get natural brown sugar from sugar cane, not from beet sugar.

I suspect you are talking about raw sugar or organic sugar.

Claire138 Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 6:13am
post #6 of 8

Squirrelly you are right, I used the wrong term bc I looked it up and you can get blond cane sugar or cassonade which is what I use. Anyway, I don't change the recipe at all but I do find it gives a richness to the taste.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 1:08pm
post #7 of 8

claire138, very confusing, isn't it?

In Canada, cassonade is brown sugar that basically clumps together when you measure it and is white sugar with molasses added to it. But French Canadians refer to all brown sugars as cassonade. Different amounts of molasses added to white sugar determine the colour and affect moisture content.

In Europe, the light brown or blond sugar cane you refer to is more like sugar or a sugar that is not as processed. It is free flowing and doesn't have molasses added to it. So this is why it isn't moist and clumpy and why you can measure it the same as white sugar. This is also why you can frequently get good results when you substitute it for the white sugar called for in many recipes. But you cannot always substitute it as some recipes won't turn out the same as they would with the white sugar. An example would be an angel food cake which turns out best with superfine white sugar.

Claire138 Posted 11 Jul 2015 , 9:47pm
post #8 of 8

Thanks Squirrelly for the explanation. We can get both light and dark cassonade and regular brown sugar which I've used too and haven't noticed a difference. Really gets down to what the store has in stock!

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