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Can I use demerara sugar instead of regular brown sugar?

TorontoJo Jan 26, 2007 01:03 PM

I have a recipe that calls for dark brown sugar. Can I use demerara sugar instead? Will the "crunchiness" of the demerara dissolve during baking?

  1. f
    FlavoursGal Jan 26, 2007 01:49 PM

    I think you might be looking for trouble, Jo. I would imagine that the coarseness of the demerara sugar makes it less sweet, ounce for ounce, than regular brown sugar. An analogy would be kosher salt and table salt. The kosher salt, which is composed of much larger crystals than table salt, is about half as salty as table salt.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FlavoursGal
      r
      Raini Nov 11, 2010 04:24 PM

      My husband did the shopping tonight and golden brown sugar was sold out (on sale!) so he bought demerara sugar instead. I used it in my recipe for chocolate chip - almond - oatmeal cookies and it was fabulous!! It wasn't so terribly sweet, no compromise in the texture, and the appearance of the cookies was absolutely "cookbook-photo-perfect"! I have to put a quota on the cookie consumption tonight!

    2. spaetzle Jan 26, 2007 01:55 PM

      I use them interchangeably, but then again, I rarely follow recipes to a t.

      I used demerara sugar instead of brown sugar in the cinnamon & sugar filling in my last batch of sticky buns. They turned out fine. Maybe they were a little less sweet than they would have been with the same dry measurement of regular brown sugar, but I didn't notice any crunchiness or odd textures.

      1. c
        ctl98 Jan 26, 2007 05:19 PM

        Demerara comes in many sizes too, some finer than others. The larger crystals don't dissolve quite as well and in more delicate baked goods, it can affect the texture, not to mention the taste. You might want to dissolve the sugar in the liquid part of your recipe first to get a head start.

        1. julietg Jan 26, 2007 05:31 PM

          The answer to your question is no, they won't dissolve. But don't despair!!

          I did this two days ago, with success!!

          I wanted my banana muffins to have a spicer taste, so I ground together deep dark brown sugar and raw sugar in my spice grinder (dedicated coffee grinder).

          Both sugars have crystals too big for baking (which I have tried- this throws off the texture and puts big "holes" in the final product), but when ground worked just fine.

          Bonus- the brown sugar grinding produced some little "pebbles" that would not grind down. I added them to each muffin. They melted and turned into yummy brown sugar "chips."

          1 Reply
          1. re: julietg
            julietg Jan 26, 2007 05:54 PM

            Forgot to mention. Clean out the coffee grinder by grinding a little bit of white rice in it, or it'll be sticky!

          2. b
            btnfood Jan 26, 2007 08:17 PM

            If you want to use a less-processed, more flavorful sugar in place of brown sugar, I'd recommend light or dark muscovado sugar. I've used finely ground demerera sugar with great results, but it seems to better replace granulated than brown sugar in baking.

            1. m
              MakingSense Jan 26, 2007 08:34 PM

              Brown sugar is refined white sugar into which molasses is added. Dark brown has more molasses than light brown. You can therefore make your own. If you consistently add the same amount of molasses to the same volume of white sugar, your baked goods will be consistent.
              Demarara sugar is cane sugar that has not been completely refined to the white, pure sucrose stage. Same thing with muscavado and all the brownish sugars that people call "raw sugar." Different names for the same thing. They are inconsistent because you never know how much moisture is in them or what the crystal size is from batch to batch. They are fine for toppings but not so good for products where you need to cream them into shortenings, etc. They don't dissolve evenly. Even grinding them will produce an inconsistent product if some of the sugar "dust" is too fine, altering your finished baked goods, much the same way using confectioners sugar would.
              Domino makes a product called Brownulated sugar which is the same crystal size as white sugar and is dry but is closer to demarara in taste.

              4 Replies
              1. re: MakingSense
                b
                btnfood Jan 27, 2007 03:25 PM

                I have to disagree with your generalization. Muscovado sugars are typically quite moist and pliable, with a texture that's very similar to processed brown sugar. Definitely no need to grind it if it's been stored properly. I've had no trouble substituting these sugars for regular brown sugar and they cream very well with butter in recipes that call for that step.

                If a baker wants to explore the flavor nuances in these sugars or avoid overly processed ingredients, there is no reason not to use them.

                1. re: btnfood
                  m
                  MakingSense Jan 27, 2007 09:53 PM

                  It is a generalization. The various forms of "raw sugars" are pulled out of the milling process of sugar at various points at various mills in all the different countries where sugar is grown. The mills vary greatly in their technological sophistication. Different names are used in different countries for different products. They are not standardized by any means.
                  Generally, muscavado is colored and flavored by cane juice rather than molasses as is commercial brown sugar. Some muscavado is very crude while it can also be closer to more refined products depending on processing methods. It will vary in moisture content and crystal size/shape from one batch to the next and from standard brown sugar, but that may have little affect in most recipes. You wouldn't notice it at all in an oatmeal cookie or muffin but it might make a difference in fine pastry. It's worth experimenting with.
                  I use demerara sugar in some of my grandmother's recipes and in my coffee. My father was born and raised on the sugar plantation where my family lived since the late 1700s. Demarara is close to the sugar that they used which they got directly from the mill before it was sent to the refinery. My grandmother's recipes work pretty well with contemporary demerara from the supermarket although it's not exactly the same as what's available at the mill.

                  1. re: MakingSense
                    b
                    btnfood Jan 28, 2007 06:59 AM

                    Well now I see why you have so much knowledge about sugar :)!

                    The brand of muscovado sugar that I'd recommend is Billington's. Sometimes you can find it at Trader Joe's, but usually only around the holidays. It's packed in a heavy plastic bag that keeps the moisture sealed in.

                    I have nothng against regular brown sugar, but it's been an eye opening experience working with these other sugars. Even Domino organic granulated sugar is so much more aromatic than its conventional counterpart.

                    1. re: btnfood
                      m
                      MakingSense Jan 28, 2007 08:58 AM

                      You'll be just fine with a brand you trust. Where people get into potential trouble is with "raw sugar" they pick up in unmarked plastic bags that came from Lord-knows-where overseas. Some of it has a lot of dirt and other impurities. In sugar processing, the first stuff that comes out of the really, really raw stuff is vile, then a blackstrap molasses used for cattle feed that always used to make us gag as kids because it was so strong. A little ways down the process, it gets cleaner.
                      Remember that it is an agricultural product that comes from fields and a lot of other stuff gets picked up with the cane during harvest. Since most harvesting is now done mechanically, there's just no telling. Stick with reliable brands.

              2. TorontoJo Jan 27, 2007 04:05 AM

                Thanks, everyone. Good old brown sugar it is then!

                1. Dapuma Apr 22, 2012 10:31 AM

                  trying to make a coffee syrup for drinks and it calls for brown sugar, however i was thinking light brown muscavado from India Tree would work better...any comments? or should i go with regular store bought brown sugar

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Dapuma
                    Caitlin McGrath Apr 22, 2012 03:24 PM

                    If making the syrup involves simmering that will dissolve and incorporate the sugar, they will work equally well from a consistency standpoint, so if you prefer the flavor of the muscovado there is no reason not to use it. If the syrup isn't heated, I think muscovado might not dissolve as readily as commercial brown sugar.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                      Dapuma Apr 23, 2012 02:58 PM

                      making brown sugar simple syrup heating not boiling until it disolves then adding the simple syrup to a coffee bean infused brandy mixture

                      grainy would be an issue for sure

                      1. re: Dapuma
                        Caitlin McGrath Apr 23, 2012 03:06 PM

                        I don't think you'll have an issue with the texture of the muscovado at all. It will dissolve just fine heated with water, based on my experience.

                  2. m
                    megjp Apr 22, 2012 04:15 PM

                    I use demerara instead of brown sugar; I've never had problems, whether I had to heat the sugar, cream it with butter, put it into liquid..

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