What is the Difference Between Caster Sugar and Icing Sugar

The main difference between caster sugar and icing sugar is that caster sugar has a larger particle size than icing sugar.

There are different types of sugar in the market. Each of these has its own uses and substituting them might end up ruining your whole recipe. Caster sugar and icing sugar are two types of sugars that have fine particles than granulated sugar. Icing sugar is the sugar we use for frosting and icing, but caster sugar is not usually used for this purpose. Caster sugar is mainly used for bakery products, and it’s not commonly used in row form.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Caster Sugar
     – Definition, Properties, Uses
2. What is Icing Sugar
     – Definition, Properties, Uses
3. Difference Between Caster Sugar and Icing Sugar
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Caster Sugar, Icing Sugar, Powdered Sugar

Difference Between Caster Sugar and Icing Sugar - Comparison Summary

What is Caster Sugar

Caster sugar is a sugar that is ground to a consistency between granulated and powdered sugar in coarseness. While it is used commonly in England and Australia, it may be little known in the US. In England, caster sugar is also known as baker’s sugar, bar sugar or superfine sugar. Caster sugar has more finely ground crystals than granulated sugar, but these crystals are not as small as those in powdered sugar. If we compare the coarseness of the sugar crystal, we can place caster sugar between granulated sugar and icing sugar.

Since caster sugar has finely ground grains, it can dissolve faster and more easily. You can use it for baking cookies, cakes, cupcakes and muffins due to its light texture and ability to dissolve quickly. Recipes for soufflés, sponge cakes and meringues also often call for caster sugar. However, caster sugar is rarely used in its raw form. Moreover, it’s not used for icing, frostings or buttercream. Due to its ability to dissolve quickly, you can also use it to sweeten drinks. In fact, many bartenders use it in place of simple syrup when making cocktails.

Main Difference - Caster Sugar vs Icing Sugar

Figure 1: Caster Sugar is used in Making Meringue

If you substitute caster sugar with icing sugar, your baked goods will end up with a too-thin texture, ruining the whole recipe. If you substitute it with granulated sugar, it will have the opposite effect – the baked good will end up too grainy. Therefore, if you can’t find caster sugar in your local store, the best option is to make it yourself. All you have to do is grind granulated sugar for few seconds using a food processor or grinder. But make sure that you don’t grind for too long to form a powder. 

What is Icing Sugar

Icing sugar is a sugar made by finely grinding granulated sugar until it is a very fine powder. Icing sugar is also known as powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar. It typically contains between 2% and 5% of an anti-caking agent like corn starch or potato starch. This addition helps to absorb moisture and prevent clumping.

Difference Between Caster Sugar and Icing Sugar

Figure 2: Icing Sugar as Dusting over Desserts

Icing sugar is readily available in the market and is a very versatile ingredient. You can use it for baking cakes and other bakery products. Moreover, icing sugar is the sugar we use for icing and frosting. We also dust it over desserts to add a subtle sweetness or for decorative purposes. Since icing sugar is finely ground, it’s a quick-dissolving agent.

Difference Between Caster Sugar and Icing Sugar

Definition

Caster sugar is a sugar that is ground to a consistency between granulated and powdered sugar in coarseness while icing sugar is a sugar made by finely grinding granulated sugar until it is a very fine powder.

Particle Size

Caster sugar has a larger particle size than icing sugar.

Anti-Cake Agents

While icing sugar has some percentage of anti-caking agents, caster sugar does not. 

Use

Moreover, caster sugar is used in baked goods like cookies, cakes, meringues, soufflés, etc. while icing sugar is used in cakes, and other bakery products, frosting and icing, and dusting over desserts.

Conclusion

In brief, the main difference between caster sugar and icing sugar is that caster sugar has a larger particle size than icing sugar. Moreover, icing sugar is the sugar we use for frosting and icing, but caster sugar is not usually used for this purpose. Caster sugar is mainly used for bakery products, and it’s not commonly used in row form. Since these two types of sugar have different properties and uses, substituting caster sugar with icing sugar, or vice versa might end up ruining your whole recipe.

Reference:

1. Potts, Christine. “What Is Caster Sugar?” WebstaurantStore, 6 Aug. 2018, Available here.
2. “What Is Icing Sugar?” Tarla Dalal, 27 June 2020, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Dessert, tenderness, sweets, meringue, food, cream, sugar, baking, home, krupnyj plan, ornament” (CC0) via Pikist
2. “3313099” (CC0) via Pixabay

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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