Frank O'Kelly Written by Frank O'Kelly

When to use soft brown light sugar or dark soft brown sugar

Soft brown sugar is a vital ingredient for the baking industry – but whether to use dark or light can cause confusion. So, in this blog, we’ll outline the key properties of this sugar and which variety to use for three staple applications: cakes, biscuits and sauces.

Why use soft brown sugar?

Soft brown sugar is an added value sugar product predominantly used in baking, both industrial and artisan. It has a shelf life of 18 months, maintaining its soft texture during storage. Its humectant qualities mean it is an invaluable product for use in industrial scale baking. However, its primary use is for taste.

At Ragus, we produce two different soft brown sugars – soft brown light sugar and dark soft brown sugar. Although both sugars have different flavour profiles, they have an identical production process, resulting in caster-sized crystals. This crystal size is slightly smaller than refined granulated sugar and helps give the product a moist and almost fluffy like appearance.

The first step in producing Ragus’ soft brown sugars is in sourcing the highest quality refined white sugar from all over the world. Then, both our soft brown sugars are produced by blending this refined white sugar with a premix of refiners syrup and treacle for a set period to produce brown sugar.

Image of soft brown light sugar with light colour

Image of dark soft brown sugar with dark colour

The first picture is soft brown light sugar, and the second is dark soft brown sugar. 

Soft brown sugar recipes

The key differences between our soft brown sugars are colour and flavour. But how does this impact upon different applications? Let’s find out below.


Soft brown sugars are most commonly used in cakes to add volume, as well as colour and flavour. The style of cake each brown sugar should be used in, however, hugely varies.

Soft brown light sugar has a much more mellow taste, and its fine texture keeps the cakes nice and soft. Therefore, it is best suited to sponge cakes or light cakes such as carrot cake or coconut cake. Also, because its flavour is subtle and mellow, it is ideal for using with chocolate, whether that’s chocolate cakes or chocolate brownies.

On the other hand, dark soft brown sugar is much more suited to traditional fruitcakes and puddings. This is because it has a higher molasses content. As a result, it adds vital moisture to the fruitcakes, and supplements the much richer taste of this type of cake.


The second most common application for soft brown sugar is in the baking of biscuits. Once again, our two soft brown sugars should be used for completely different kinds of biscuit.

Soft brown light sugar increases the spread of biscuits and is much more suited to cookies and almost any biscuit that has a lighter, golden colour. A chewy cookie is the most obvious application, but walnut biscuits, cinnamon biscuits and Anzac biscuits also apply.

Due to its stronger flavour profile, dark soft brown sugar is better suited to ‘heavy duty’ biscuits. If making any type of biscuit that involves ginger, dark soft brown sugar complements best – ginger nuts, gingerbread or ginger snap cookies. But also, dark soft brown sugar is better suited to oat biscuits that need a little more punch from the sugar ingredient.


Although not part of the bakery industry, the application of soft brown sugar in sauces is so widespread that it deserves a mention, due to its rapidly dissolving qualities.

Soft brown light sugar is the perfect ingredient for the sweet sauces that go with desserts. It adds colour while the sucrose content (sweetness) develops the mellow flavour of toffee, fudge, caramel and butterscotch sauces. Dark soft brown sugar can be used to add a richer flavour to these sauces too, depending on how the sauce needs to taste.

Dark soft brown sugar is more suited to stronger tasting sauces like brandy sauce, or in savoury sauces such as a spicy barbecue sauce. In the same way it complements fruit cakes, dark soft brown sugar is very effective when used in dark and sticky fruit chutneys.

Ragus has over 90 years’ experience testing and analysing sugar products, meaning we are experts in understanding which sugars suit specific applications best. Contact us on +44 (0)1753 215424  or to talk to a member of our team directly and we will be able to assist with your enquiry.