A partially refined sugar made by boiling sugarcane juice to thicken and crystalize it, turbinado sugar retains some molasses giving it a subtle taste. Known as a first crystallization sugar, meaning it comes from the sugar cane’s first pressing, it retains more of the plant’s flavor and molasses. The syrup released from this pressing is then boiled to form crystals, then spun in a turbine removing any liquid still remaining. This results in coarse, amber-colored crystals with a slightly rich, well-rounded molasses flavor with caramel undertones. Many manufacturers label it raw sugar, however, this is simply a marketing term as turbinado sugar undergoes a, while minimal, refining process. Take note, turbinado sugar generally costs twice to three times regular sugar.
When using turbinado sugar in baking, some things must come into consideration. First, turbinado sugar is between the two most common sugars (brown–moist and white–dry) on the moisture spectrum. As a result, using turbinado in lieu of brown sugar often leads to drier, crumbly results. Further, using turbinado instead of white sugar in thick pastry batters and cookie doughs often throws the recipe off because of the extra moisture. In cakes and other pourable batters, however, turbinado sugar often results in a more rich and tender end product so its usage really depends on the particulars of the recipe. Second, when allocating portions by volume, remember that turbinado’s larger crystal size weighs less than a cup of granulated sugar. Thus a cup of each is not equal and you must weigh your ingredients to get the proper results when baking. A final concern, turbinado sugar does not melt easily, which makes it an excellent topping for a variety of baked goods like bread, cookies, and muffins. So to fancy up a simple cake, sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar. Since turbinado sugar does not melt into batters while baking, it leaves a professional, crunchy, and sparkly looking finish that contrasts nicely with the baked goods texture.
Fabulous in coffee and tea, turbinado also makes an ideal sweetener in shakes and smoothies, excels in dessert sauces and spice rubs, and shines in anything fruit-based. Used either behind the bar to create syrups or used in the bakery to make glazes, turbinado proves as delicious as versatile. Worth noting is what Americans call turbinado sugar is often found in the European Union as demerara sugar. However, in the United States, demerara refers to a darker, moister sugar with larger crystals. With both sugars so close in flavor, texture, and appearance the two sugars are easily exchanged for one another.« Back to Glossary Index