Understanding Sugar Temperatures

Tue Jun 8, 2021

I have been wanting to write this post since Chrismtas but something or the other made the delay. Sugar is something that all of us work with every day than anything else, so as a baker it’s very important to understand the numbers that play with sugar. This is not a recipe post, this will be hand book for sugars, recipes are ample but I always believe learning the science will make you more strong and knowledgeable. So here we go.

Understanding Sugar at different Temperatures for perfect Confections

For Meringue/Macarons/Caramel/Sugar Candy/Fruit Compote/Praline/Toffee/Marshmallows/Nougats & many more

Sugar Water Ratio for Caramels,
100g Castor Sugar
3tbsp Water

You can use regular sugar too, but not homemade powdered sugar as the size of each granule is different, bringing in difference in melting time

Mix together, pour into a sauce pan

Thermometer In, Low flame, No Stirring!

Dos & Donts:

1. Always use a sauce pan while working with sugar, It will help you eject off heat immediately
2. Wear gloves, Keep the work station clean. Hot sugar can give you second degree burns so its advisable to work in a free & clear workstation.
3. Do not stir the mixture unless its necessary
4. Use low heat, ensure the sides of your sauce pan does not have sugars that splattered, this will crystallize your syrup
5. Sides of the pan has to be always clean

Look for the below 14 stages as per the application, Voila 😊

🔥 Temperature Testing:

An accurate candy or digital thermometer is the most reliable way to determine when sugar has been cooked to the correct temperature. Investing in a good thermometer is necessary when you are in the sugar business! Make sure your thermometer is faster & very accurate, reduces you job to half. Most type of Immersion thermometers work better than laser versions, although they are a slightly slow. Make sure your thermometer touches the sugar. All below temperatures are in Celsius

🤚🏽 Physical Testing:

Dropping a little sugar into a bowl of cold water and then pressing gently between the thumb and forefinger

➡️Stage 1: Boiling

Usage: Simple Syrup

Temperature Test: 100

Manual Test: Large bubbles rise from the bottom of the pan and break to the surface

➡️Stage2: Thread (to Pearl to Blow)

Used for: Fruit Syrups/Compote/Fruit Liqueur

Temperature Test: 106-112

Manual Test: Drizzle over a cold surface, between the fingers forms loose thin threads, after few degrees forms pearls in water

Sugar: 80%

➡️Stage3: Soft Ball

Usage: Fudge/Italian Meringue/Blown Sugar

Temperature Test: 112-116

Manual Test: Drop a little in cold water, forms a small soft ball that doesn’t hold shape when pressed

Sugar: 85%

➡️Stage4: Firm Ball

Usage: Caramel Candy/Praline/Soft Toffee

Temperature Test: 118-120

Manual Test: Drop a little in cold water, forms a ball, holds shape but is very sticky

Sugar: 87%

➡️Stage5:Hard Ball

Usage: Marshmallow/Gummy Candy/Rock Candy

Temperature Test: 121-130

Manual Test: Drop a little in cold water, forms a ball, holds shape but is very pliable

Sugar: 92%

➡️Stage6: Soft Crack

Usage: Nougats/Butterscotch/Toffee

Temperature Test: 132-143

Manual Test: Drop a little in cold water, when stretched between fingers forms hard threads

Sugar: 95%

➡️Stage7: Hard Crack

Usage: Nut Brittle/Spun Sugar/Caramel Decorations/Sugar Glass/Lollipops

Temperature Test: 146-154

Manual Test: Drop a little in cold water, when stretched between fingers forms hard brittle threads


➡️Stage8: Clear Liquid

Temperature Test: 160

Manual Test: Water is completely boiled away, this is pure liquid

Sugar: 100%

➡️Stage9: Light Caramel/Light Amber

Usage: Brittle, Caramel Shards, Hard Candy, Toffee

Temperature Test: 165

Manual Test: Colour changes from clear to brown, tastes light and sweet

➡️Stage10: Medium Caramel/Medium Amber

Usage: Caramel Custard/Flan/Glaze

Temperature Test: 171

Manual Test: Colour is medium brown, rich & sweet

➡️Stage11: Dark Caramel

Usage: Flavoring & Coloring agent

Temperature Test: 177

Manual Test: Colour is Dark & Intense

➡️Stage12: Very Dark Caramel

Usage: Coloring agent for sauces, breads, cakes, Icecreams

Temperature Test: 180

Manual Test: Colour is dark brown & bitter

➡️Stage 13: Nearly Burnt Caramel

Temperature Test: 190

Usage: Dark Caramel Sauce

Manual Test: Is very acidic & needs heavy fat dairy to balance out

➡️Stage14: Black Jack

Temperature Test: 204

Usage: Throwaway and start over

Manual Test: Sugar turns black & decomposes, not usable

I hope this article has helped you a bit, I love writing and i love science & numbers, I believe this makes you as a better baker.

Jeyadra Vijayselvan
Your Baking Mentor

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