Powdered sugar is a popular ingredient in many sweet pastry recipes as it can be used to make finished products even more eye-catching and enticing. It can be sifted on top as a finishing touch and used to make frosting and icing. It is made by pulverizing granulated sugar and adding a little starch to prevent clumping. Powdered sugar is also called confectioners’ sugar, and in Canada and England it is known as icing sugar.
Powdered sugar is ideally suited for frostings and icings because it blends and dissolves easier. It can also be dusted on top of baked foods to add a finishing touch, and you can use it to make whipped cream. Since it’s so light, your whipped cream won’t be weighted down and will turn out nice and fluffy. For homemade whipped cream, it’s therefore a better choice than granulated sugar.
There are some major differences between conventional and organic powdered sugar. Conventional powdered sugar usually has added cornstarch, which is an anticaking substance and often contains GMOs, and that has a chalky taste and texture. Organic cornstarch, on the other hand, uses tapioca starch as this product is cheaper than organic, non-GMO cornstarch. Tapioca starch gives powdered sugar a creamier and smoother feel.
In contrast to cornstarch, tapioca begins to thicken and absorb liquids before the boiling point is reached and is therefore a better choice for thickening sauces and frostings that aren’t heated or are only heated at low temperatures.
However, tapioca-based powdered sugar does have some downsides. Since it’s highly absorbent and readily dissolved, if you try to dust a cake (even with a thick layer) of organic powdered sugar, it will melt away in just a short amount of time. Conventional cornstarch-based powdered sugar won’t dissolve and is a better choice if you are aiming for eye-catching presentation that will last.
Making your own powdered sugar:
You can make your own powdered sugar by blending a cup of granulated sugar and a tablespoon of corn starch in a high-speed blender. And if you prefer, use can use potato, tapioca, or arrowroot starch instead. Sift the sugar through a strainer and use immediately or store in an air-tight container.
Powdered sugar is made from white granulated sugar, which is 97 % to almost 100 % carbohydrates and contains less than 2 % water and no dietary fiber, protein, or fat.
From Wikipedia: Powdered sugar, also called confectioners' sugar, icing sugar, and icing cake, is a finely ground sugar produced by milling granulated sugar into a powdered state. It usually contains a small amount of anti-caking agent to prevent clumping and improve flow. Although most often produced in a factory, powdered sugar can also be made by processing ordinary granulated sugar in a coffee grinder, or by crushing it by hand in a mortar and pestle. ... Powdered sugar is available in varying degrees of fineness, most commonly XXX, XXXX, and 10X: the greater the number of Xs, the finer the particles. Finer particles absorb more moisture, which results in caking. Corn starch or tricalcium phosphate is added at 3 to 5% concentration to absorb moisture and to improve flow by reducing friction between sugar crystals. Because of these anticaking agents, it cannot always be used as a substitute for granulated sugar.1
Caster sugar (also referred to as superfine or baker's sugar) has a larger particle size than powdered sugar, approximately half that of granulated sugar. It is commonly used in baking and cold mixed drinks because it dissolves faster than granulated white sugar. Caster sugar can be easily prepared at home by grinding white sugar in a food processor to make it finer. The most common food caster sugar is used in is meringue.
Snow powder (or snow sugar) is a non-melting form of icing sugar usually consisting of dextrose, starch and anti-binding agents, useful for retaining its structure when dusted onto cakes or pastries that require refrigeration. It is mostly used for decorative purposes. There is also titanium dioxide in it, which gives it a vibrant white colour. Use of this sugar is for visual appeal without the sugar melting into the pastry from moisture. It is mostly used on baked goods that are slightly wet like fruit bars and tarts. It will not melt even if it is sprinkled on whipped cream or ice cream. Snow sugar is less sweet than regular powdered sugar because dextrose (a type of sugar made when starchy plants are broken down into monosaccharides using enzymes) is around 20% less sweet than regular sugar.1
Literature / Sources:
- Wikipedia. Powdered sugar, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Powdered_sugar