I was recently asked to take the Blogger's Challenge by Billington's, the sugar company.
Refined versus unrefined sugars
Which is best?? Is there any marked difference between the two??
I was allowed to choose a recipe to cook from their recipes and I was sent the sugar to use in the recipe. All of the other ingredients were my own.
I chose the Muscovado Pudding recipe.
Making "Refined" Cane Sugar involves a two stage process, designed to produce bulk white sugar as efficently as possible. Brown sugars are then manufactured by "surface coating" refined white sugar with syrups. Industrial raw cane sugar for refining is transported in bulk to European refineries, where they are further refined to produce bulk white sugar.
So . . . "Refined" cane sugar is made by processing the sugar cane until it becomes white sugar, then gradually adding molasses, a dark coloured by-product of the processing of sugar cane, to make the different types of brown sugar."
"Unrefined" Sugar is different. How so???
Unrefined Cane Sugar is made using a careful one stage process, converting perishable sugar cane into finished sugar products, in the country of origin.
Minimally processed . . . not remelted, not refined. Packed into bags ready for consumption.
Simply produced with the aim of locking in . . . rather than refining out natural molasses of sugar cane.
What does all of this mean???? Quite simply this, not all brown sugars are the same: many are only brown on the outside; underneath they are really refined white sugar which has been coated to add colour and some flavour.
Billington’s sugars are different. They are unrefined, so the sugars are very simply produced with the aim of locking in, rather than refining out the natural molasses of the sugar cane. It is this difference that gives unrefined sugar its superior flavour and natural colour.
But can it live up to it's promise??
I took two teaspoons of brown sugar. One teaspoon held the Billington's Light Muscovado brown sugar. The other one held an ordinary brand of soft light brown sugar. (Thankfully they had sent me a small amount of an ordinary brand of soft light brown sugar. I quite honestly never have anything but muscovado sugar in the house.)The visual difference between the two is quite noticeable to me.
Can you spot the difference???
Yes, the Billingtons is the one on the left. It's much darker than the other one and looks quite a bit moister to me. You can see white granules in the ordinary brown sugar too, which is not altogether that appealing in comparison. But how does it taste??? Is there a definite taste difference??? Let's see . . .
I tasted each on it's own, and I did wash my mouth out between tastes. I truly found the Billingtons to have a richer, more caramel-like flavour. I much preferred it to the other. The other one kind of just tasted like sugar . . . with no real depth. It was sweet, but that's all. Hmmm . . . was I being biased by having known which was which to begin with?? I decided to ask someone who was completely un-biased and did not know which sugar was which.
Yes, it's a cheesy "thumbs up" picture, but I think you can see that the Toddster clearly agreed with me in finding the Billington's to be superior in flavour, texture and looks than the other brand. He thought the Billington's tasted a lot nicer. More substantial he said, and less "anemic." Richer. Spot on!
Now . . . on to the recipe. (Which is why you're here, right?? )
I have made many similar puddings through the years to this recipe, using ordinary brown sugar. Would this one made with the Billington's taste any different?? Let's see . . .
Going into the oven this pudding didn't look any different than any other chocolate pudding cake recipe I have used. In fact I believe you would be hard pressed to see the difference.
Neither did it look much different coming out of the oven . . . it looked every bit as ugly as any other chocolate pudding cake that I have ever made, in all truth.
The real difference was noticeable as soon as I spooned some of it out into my bowl. HEY!! This pudding was considerably lighter than any other one I had ever made . . . it was not in the least bit heavy . . .
and yet . . . the cake part was incredibly moist, a marked difference . . . and the sauce was really light and rich looking . . .
And it was really light and rich tasting too . . . oh my . . . it's some good. Let's try it with a bit of cream shall we???
Oh yes . . . that is definitely gilding the lily . . . just when you think something can't taste any better . . . you add cream and like magic . . . it does! You're definitely going to want to make this rich and lucious pudding and if you can get the Billington's to make it with DO use it. There is a marked difference . . . both in texture and in taste.
*Billington's Muscovado Pudding*
Serves about 9 people
(depending on how greedy you are)
A deliciously light chocolate pudding cake, which bakes it's own chocolate sauce in the oven. Scrumdiddlyumptiously good!
110g plain white flour ( generous 1 cup, or 1 cup +2 TBS)
40g of cocoa powder, not chocolate drink mix (6 TBS), divided
2 TBS baking powder
pinch fine seasalt
110ml of milk (7 1/2 TBS)
175g of golden caster sugar (superfine unrefined sugar, scant cup)
(I used Billington's)
2 TBS corn oil
2 large free range eggs
50g of toasted walnuts, chopped (scant 1/2 cup)
225g of Light Muscovado Sugar (Billingtons) (unrefined cane sugar, 1 cup plus 2 TBS, packed)
425ml of hot water (1 3/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 9 inch square baking tin or dish. Set aside.
Sift the flour, 2 TBS of the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in the Caster sugar. Whisk together the milk, eggs and oil. Add to the dry mixture and mix together until smooth. Stir in the chopped nuts. Pour this batter into the prepared baking tin or dish.
Stir together the remaining cocoa powder and the light muscovado sugar. Sprinkle this mixture over top of the batter in the pan. Pour over the hot water. DO NOT STIR!! Leave it as it is and pop it into the heated oven. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the cake is risen and bounces back lightly when touched and the sauce is bubbling up around the edges. Serve warm or cold.
Pouring cream is delicious with this! Nom Nom!!
My thoughts on this sugar are quite simply this. We are all supposed to be cutting back our sugar consumption. That only makes sense health-wise . . . but when we are going to indulge, let it be with a sugar that is less refined and more natural.
You know it makes sense.
In truth I have been a user of the un-refined Billington's sugars for a number of years now. It's all I ever really buy, and for that very reason. It tastes better and it's better for you at the end of the day. TWO THUMB'S UP in my opinion . . . and no, there's no cheesy thumb's up picture of me to share. ☺
Many thanks to Billingon's and the people at Baking Mad.Com for affording me this chance to show you how great these sugars really are.
Note - Todd was a bit disappointed that I had chosen a chocolate pudding to test out the sugars in . . . he hates chocolate puddings. I know . . . twas a tough sacrifice for me to make, but I do what I can!! I did not eat this pudding all on my own. The bulk of it was sent over to our local Missionaries to enjoy and they gave it Two Thumb's up as well! (No picture of them either unfortunately!)