This golden-hued sugar is somewhat of a mystery, seen everywhere from high end restaurants to fancy coffee shops, but what exactly is turbinado sugar?
Mystery Solved …Turbinado Sugar
Refined white sugar can be made from sugar cane or sugar beets and goes through several processes before hitting our tables (boiling, clarifying, more boiling, even more boiling, drying, then crushing into tiny sugar crystals). Turbinado or demerara sugar (as it is known in the UK) is a sugar made only from the first pressing and boiling of sugar cane, retaining much of the dark molasses coloring and rich flavor. Unlike traditional brown sugar (which is just a combination of refined white sugar and molasses), turbinado sugar retains much of the natural, raw sugar cane properties.
How is Turbinado Sugar made?
Once the sugar cane is harvested from the fields, it is milled and pressed to extract the sugar cane syrup. This syrup is then heated to a boil, causing any residual debris or impurities to rise to the surface for easy skimming and removal. The syrup is then placed in a turbine-like centrifuge (hence the name, turbinado) and spun to expel the moisture. What remains are coarse, crunchy grains of raw sugar.
Turbinado sugar is unique in its flavor, which is more like honeyed-caramel than refined white sugar with a mighty crunch that sets it apart from dark or light brown sugar.
Cooking with Turbinado Sugar
Turbinado sugar does not lend itself as easily to the durable and versatility of refined white sugar or brown sugar, mainly because of turbinado’s texture and flavor. Turbinado sugar crystals take much longer to dissolve than fine sugar, making it not suitable for traditional baking. But, pastry chefs and bakers love using turbinado sugar for finishing desserts, giving an elegant appearance to cakes, breads, and rolls. Try our recipe for Pumpkin Bread, which has a crunchy turbinado sugar topping or our recipe for Crema Catalana, which has a crackly layer of turbinado sugar, perfect for cracking with a spoon.