It’s everyone’s favorite ingredient, and the most well known sweetener for baking. What you may not know is that sugar plays an important and complex role in the chemistry of baking. If you’ve picked up a set of letter cookie cutters to spell out a love note for that special person you bumped into in the baking section of the supermarket, remember it’s what’s inside that counts. If you run into her again, you’ll at least be able to impress her with your new found knowledge of sugar in the baking process instead of pretending to read the ingredients on a can of condensed milk while she waited for you to ask for her number.
Understanding how sugar works in the baking process will get you one step closer to becoming a rockstar in the baking world. First thing’s first, sugar is responsible for texture. Sugar bonds to water molecules so that the “L” cut by your letter cookie cutter set doesn’t taste like a dog biscuit. The sugar bonded with water keeps the entire treat nice and moist. Sugar is also responsible for the shape and firmness of your baked goods, and possibly body shape, but we won’t go there. Proteins and starches pull water from your batter and firm up the product as the baking process happens. Since sugar retains water, it can can combat the firmness of the starches. If you put too much sugar in, the product can lose its shape and your “O” will just look like an amoeba.
Sugar also helps leaven your baked good. The crystals cut tiny air pockets into the fats (eggs and other liquid ingredients) which allows the dough to rise higher. Your baking aisle crush will be astonished at your three dimensional “V.”
Lastly, sugar adds that delectable crunch to your baked products. As the oven heats your dough, moisture evaporates allowing the surface sugars to recrystallize. This creates the perfect outer shape and texture. When she bites into the “E,” she’ll experience a nice outer crunch before reaching the moist and tender center.
At JB Cookie Cutters, we have all the letters in the alphabet in multiple cookie cutter sets so that you can express your love in your own words. Getting that sugar balance right is up to you!