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Sugar: A Multitasker In Baking and Cooking

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2012

The sucrose, glucose, and fructose in real sugars contribute much more to baking and cooking than just sweetness.

BROWNING
During cooking and baking, some sucrose breaks down into glucose and fructose, which brown at lower temperatures, providing flavor and color in baked goods.

TENDERIZING
Sugar is a major tenderizer. it inhibits gluten formation by preventing some of the water in the dough from hydrating flour proteins.

LEAVENING
Sugar is a prime contributor to the rise of cakes, cookies, and quick breads because it helps incorporate air bubbles into the batter during creaming.

ON THE SAVORY SIDE
A dash of sugar in savory dishes has a complex, indirect impact on flavor, amping up tastes that might otherwise fade into the background. it can also bring balance to sour, salty, spicy, or bitter ingredients. What’s more, sprinkling sugar over the surface of vegetables, fish, or raw meat or adding it to a brine can enhance browning.