Baking with White Sugar vs. Brown Sugar
What are the properties of white sugar vs. brown sugar when baked in a muffin? I'm really curious about their baking properties in general, but muffins seem to be the vehicle in which this question turns up most often...
To clarify: what characteristics does baking w/ white sugar lend vs. baking w/ brown sugar? I've seen reference to white sugar making things 'crispier' while brown sugar adds moisture...which seems sensible, considering their textures. Any other properties that I should know about? Does one lend itself better to browning than the other? I'm guessing white sugar produces lighter, fluffier baked goods while brown sugar produces denser, moister (more moist?) products?
And what about combining the two in a recipe in order to get the best of both worlds? Would that work, or would they just sort of cancel each other out?
Any information or tips you may have would be greatly appreciated; I really like to understand my ingredients so that I can more effectively try to piece together my own recipes. (I'm currently in the process of coming up with a peach muffin recipe that I feel would benefit from the use of brown sugar.)
Brown sugar does make a moister product. Alton Brown explained in his chocolate chip episode of Good Eats that varying the amounts of brown sugar and white sugar, you'll get a different textured product. His examples for cookies were that no brown sugar would produce a thin, crisp cookie. By changing the amounts of white and brown sugar you'll end up with texturally varying foods. Try experimenting on a smaller scale with your products, that's all I could really suggest. And you may want to consult others if brown sugar to white sugar is replaceable in equal parts, you may end up with a really sweet muffin. Good Luck.
It is replaceable in equal parts... that shouldn't change the "sweetness" of the final product. My high school cooking class (15 years ago) did a similar experiment to Alton Brown in his chocolate chip cookie episode. White sugar made a cripier, lighter colored cookie, Brown sugar made a denser, more moist cookie. However, the class favorites were those cookies made with a combination of the two!! We did 1/3 white with 2/3 brown, 1/2 white with 1/2 brown, and 2/3 white with 1/3 brown... and all were equally good. It seemed to strike a nice balance as far as texture, moisture, sweetness, and color. I think it would be the same in a muffin recipe.