Bake from Scratch

SYRUP

It’s one of the great pleasures of baking, watching golden, viscous syrup slowly drizzle from spoon to bowl. The beauty and tastiness are apparent—but what’s really going on inside this lovely liquid?

Coming in a number of shades and hues, from translucent to pitch black, syrup can be a tricky ingredient to incorporate into your baking because each variety comes with its own set of rules and guidelines. They have differing levels of sweetness, acidity, and longevity—but if you take the time to embrace their individual quirks, you’ll quickly learn how to add complex layers to your baking.

Long before refined white sugar reigned supreme, syrup was the sweetener of choice. Honey has been used for thousands of years in creating sweet baked goods, from (honey balls studded with nuts and dried fruit). Further east, the Chinese used barley malt syrup to sweeten certain variations of their mooncakes and as a golden lacquer for their famous Peking duck. By the 16th century, exposure to the New World and the dawn of the Atlantic slave trade led to the mass production of sugar via plantations and the production of cane sugar syrups. During the commercial manufacturing of sugar, cane juice is refined, separating the liquid from the sugar. That liquid byproduct is molasses. This refinement process can be taken to multiple levels, running the gamut from mild cane syrup to blackstrap molasses. In more recent times, commercial innovation has led to the production of starch syrups like corn syrup, and the modern health focus on natural sugars has given way to the popularization of agave and date syrup.

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