Kay Sandhu Written by Kay Sandhu

Sugar applications in Easter baking and confectionary

From hot cross buns, carrot cake and simnel cake, to the iconic chocolate egg, spring has sprung, and Easter baking and confectionary is upon us.

As Ragus continue to manufacture a variety of high-quality crystalline sugars, syrups and custom formulations, our customers producing food, beverages or pharmaceuticals will continue to require our services. This blog will capture which sugar product is needed when baking or creating Easter confectionary.

The origin of Easter eggs

Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, we all know as a religious celebration and cultural holiday representing life and new beginnings. And we have the Germans to thank for the  Easter egg, when they began dipping hard-boiled eggs in dye and then hand painting them. The oldest surviving decorated egg dates back to the 4th century.

The first edible Easter egg, however, was made of sugar and pastry – or marzipan – and dates back to 1875. Some early eggs were solid as the production process for hollow eggs was  rather painstaking, requiring moulds to be lined with paste chocolate one at a time! It was such a slow process in fact, that the progression in the chocolate Easter egg market was slow until the method was found in making the chocolate flow into moulds.

Now it is an annual celebration to consume chocolate eggs, and each year on average 80 million edible eggs are sold. Invert sugar syrup plays an important role in manufacturing the chocolate eggs, as its base of equal parts glucose and fructose means it does not crystallise. This makes it ideal for chocolate eggs, particularly to enrobe the soft fillings such as flavoured creams and caramels in the centre of the chocolate.

A collection of Easter treats, including the famous chocolate egg.

Pure sugars this Easter

As well as edible eggs, boxes of chocolate and luxury confectionery remain popular during Easter. Sugar is a key component to many of these. For example, dark cane muscovado sugar gives caramels, toffee fillings and chocolate cakes their definitive taste and colour. Muscovado in particular is a pure sugar product that naturally retains molasses due to limited processing and, therefore, has high nutritional content.

Hot cross buns are a lightly spiced bread which has stood the test of time and remains a firm favourite, at Easter and throughout the year. They are known to have existed since the 18th century, although similar recipes may have been used from the 1300s onwards. To this day they are one of the most prominent and well-known symbols of Easter, and by March 21st last year, (the first day of Spring) 42% of all households in Britain purchased hot cross buns and spent over 37 million on this baked good alone.

Invert sugar is also used in hot cross buns, not just to sweeten the dough, but also as a humectant. This means that it is used to hold moisture in, keeping the buns fresh and moist, while creating a glaze on the top of the bun to prevent burning during baking.

So while the chocolate bunny is the most popular treat to fill Easter baskets, mini chocolate eggs, marshmallow chicks and jellybeans are also often included, making this holiday almost as indulgent as Christmas.

Hot cross buns, warmed up and spread with butter.

Cakes at Easter

 Another Easter favourite is Simnel cake, a traditional cake decorated with 11 marzipan balls to represent the apostles, with Judas left out because of his betrayal against Jesus, hence why they are eaten around Easter.

This cake is characterised by sheets of marzipan between and on top of layers of rich fruit cake. Light cane muscovado sugar is ideal for the application in this delectable cake as it provides its warm, golden colour and the preservative effect while offering a sweet, subtle flavour of toffee. This would most likely be lost amongst the other rich flavours if a white sugar was used.

Simnel cake, a rich fruit cake, traditional at Easter. 

Ragus’ sugar products have evolved and grown with the times and have proven just how versatile each pure sugar is. So if you are keen to create your own chocolate Easter eggs, or you want to indulge in cake this year, knowing the correct sugar application is key to your Easter baking and confectionery.

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