Sugar Talk Sugar Talk
How is sugar used in confectionery during Spring?
The advent of Spring for Ragus means working to meet the sugar requirements dictated by the various celebrations associated with the season. With Mother’s Day for the UK behind us, attention now turns to Easter eggs, hot cross buns and Simnel cake.
Sugar in Easter eggs, chocolates and sweets
Easter eggs are synonymous with celebrating Easter, with 2019 seeing British consumers spend £146 million on this seasonal treat. Invert sugar plays an important role in chocolate, 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 of chocolates.
Sugar allows control over crystallisation, therefore giving the manufacturer control over the structure and texture of sweets. The ratio of sugar to glucose syrup is what decides the softness or rigidity. Boiled sweets that need to crystallise have a higher ratio of sugar to glucose, whereas fondants, caramels or jellies have more glucose to prevent crystallisation and remain softer.
Boxes of chocolate and luxury confectionery also remain popular during Easter. Sugar is a key component to many of these. For example, muscovado sugar gives caramels their definitive taste and colour, with melted sugar providing the solid, shininess of hard toffee.
Invert sugar is a crucial ingredient throughout the Spring period.
Sugar in hot cross buns and Simnel cake
Hot cross buns 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. Last year 42% of all households in Britain purchased hot cross buns.
Invert sugar is 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. Invert sugar is ideal for this because its invert content retains moisture.
Another Easter favourite is Simnel cake, a traditional cake characterised by sheets of marzipan between and on top of layers of rich fruit cake. Light cane muscovado sugar is ideal for this luscious fruit cake as it provides a preservative effect while offering a strong, sweet flavour that would likely be lost amongst the other rich flavours if a white sugar was used.