Sugar, Sugar

You can't make omelets without breaking eggs and you can't make cakes without sugar. You can substitute here and there and get a proximity of a cake, but you can't really produce the real deal without sugar and lots of it—at least not a beautiful, decorated cake. Sugar is just about number one on the list of ingredients you'll need to make any cake worth eating. Get acquainted with some of the different types of sugar by reading about them here.

White Sugar

White comes in several grades. The grade depends in large measure on the size of the granules of sugar and each grade has unique qualities that make it suitable for a specific purpose. Pearl or coarse sugar, for instance, comes in very large crystals that come in clusters. This type of sugar is used for topping sugar cookies. Baker's Special Sugar, on the other hand has very fine crystals and is used when a very fine crumb is desired in cakes or for sugaring doughnuts.

Caster sugar may be spelled "caster" or "castor." The granules of this UK sugar type are finer than regular U.S. granulated sugar and this quality means it will dissolve in the blink of an eye. In British Columbia, it is called berry sugar. In the U.S. it is possible to substitute Baker's sugar or superfine sugar for caster sugar.

Confectioner's sugar is the same thing as powdered sugar. In France it is called sucre glace and in Britain, icing sugar. No matter what you call it, this type of sugar is ground fine and has cornstarch added to it as an anti-caking agent. The finest grade of this sugar is known as 10x and works well in icings and in sweetened whipped cream. Other grades are used in industrial bakeries.

Date Sugar

Date sugar is not really suitable as a baking ingredient but is tasty as a topping for oatmeal or fruit. In fact, date sugar is not really a sugar at all. Date sugar consists of ground, dehydrated dates. It is rich in nutrients and fiber, making it a favorite of health-food aficionados. It is very pricey and will not dissolve in liquids.

Fruit sugar is a bit finer than plain, granulated sugar and is useful in creating dry mixes such as puddings and gelatin desserts as well as powdered drinks. Because the crystals have a small, very uniform size, there is no issue of larger crystals sinking to the bottom of a box, which is an important property for boxed, dried mixes.

Granulated or table sugar. This is the most common sugar available to consumers. It's what you will find in just about everyone's sugar bowls and it's what most people use in preparing food and cakes. The crystals are fine and paper-white.