Types of Sugars Used for Baking and Cake Decoration

Hi Bakers and Foodies! Today I’m going to share some of the sugars used by bakers. This is another post about types of baking ingredients used in baking.

I will also mention some liquid sugar syrups that you can use when you’re baking as well.

1. Granulated Sugar

This type of sugar is called granulated sugar because of the size of the sugar granules. They are supposed to be regular-sized granules (not too big or too small); therefore it is called granulated sugar.

Regular Granulated Sugar

Depending on which area you’re from, you’re going to find that especially in Kenya or in East Africa, our sugar does tend to be slightly brown color. Though we do have manufacturers that produce granulated white sugar.

Kenyan sugar is either a very light brown or a white granulated sugar. That’s the one you’re going to find being used in most recipes. It can be used for butter cakes and sponge cakes; as well as all types of baked pastries and products.

You can find granulated sugar in Kenya in most shops that sell food items or major supermarkets.

2. Caster Sugar

This is a finely granulated sugar that’s purely white. Caster sugar is preferred; especially when doing Meringues, Sponge cakes, or Desserts that really need the sugar to dissolve as much as possible. In our recipe books, we use Caster sugar as an ingredient especially for the Sponge cakes.

Caster Sugar (Image Courtesy: Pixabay)

Where you see Caster sugar as an ingredient in a recipe, if you have regular sugar that’s white and finely granulated, you can actually use it instead. If it’s specifically mentioned as an ingredient in a type of dessert recipe, I would suggest getting the caster sugar. This is because it’s important for you to have those small granules for a successful recipe result, and it’s important for it to be very white as well.

Caster Sugar packet

You can get Caster sugar in Kenya in most major supermarkets or in cake supply shops.

3. Icing Sugar/Confectioner’s Sugar/10X Sugar/Powdered Sugar

Icing sugar is usually caster sugar that has been ground completely to powder form.

Icing Sugar also known as powder sugar or confectioner’s sugar

It is used mainly in cake decoration to make frostings and icings. You can use it directly by itself (by dusting) or to make a type of frosting like Buttercream frosting, Fondant, Glaze and many other types of frosting.

Amari Chiffon SwissRolls with Icing sugar dusting

Before using it to make frostings; make sure to sift the Icing sugar because it does tend to get lumpy.

Icing Sugar stocked by supplies – Topserve Ltd

There are a few dessert recipes that call for Icing sugar; even cookie recipes e.g. Macarons. This is when a recipe requires a really fine sugar; however, most of the time it’s used for cake decoration in cake making and pastries.

4. Brown Sugar

There are different types of brown sugar; based on how light or dark the color of the brown sugar. Availability of the various types of brown sugars depends on the region you’re in. In Kenya; there are quite a variety of brown sugars; though the regular brown sugar is more easily available and budget-friendly.

3 types of Brown sugars (Image courtesy: WikiCommons)

Brown sugar is a type of sugar that generally has molasses added to it. Most of the time, it’s granulated sugar or caster sugar plus molasses. The authentic brown sugar though; is actually supposed to be sugar that hasn’t been fully refined. That’s when the liquid is left in the sugar during production (basically the molasses). Brown sugar has a dense, sticky and wet consistency. If you hold it with your hand, you can actually form a ball.

Brown sugar packets sold in Kenyan market

It’s used a lot for very rich or heavy recipes e.g. Light or traditional Dark Fruit cake. You can use it to make Carrot cake as well. Some cookie recipes also require the use brown sugar in their ingredients for a chewy and darker colored baked result.

Fruit Cake slice from Amari Recipe book

Brown sugar in Kenya is usually sold by major supermarkets, food wholesalers and cake supply shops.

I want to mention two liquid sugars that are sometimes used in baking:

5. Molasses

This is this sort of dark, thick liquid that is a byproduct of sugar.


In the baking industry; it is used in making traditional fruit cakes and some other rich fruit cakes or spicy cakes.

Jar of Molasses

It is a type of sugar; when you add molasses to your recipe you may have to adjust the sugar content in the recipe as it sweetens your cake.

Black treacle can also be used instead of molasses as they are similar products.

Black Treacle

6. Glucose Syrup

This is also a byproduct of a sugar; though it is not extremely sweet, it is a sweetener.

Glucose syrup (Image: ragus)

Glucose syrup is used especially in rolled icings (e.g. fondant) or in candy making. If you’re a cake decorator who has made fondant; you know it is one of the ingredient used.

Glucose syrup jar

Glucose syrup in Kenya is mainly sold by commercial Food supplies shops, Cake supply shops and also some select major supermarkets.

P/S: I would also like to mention some types of sugar that you may have seen written in cake or cookie recipes. They’re not very popular in the Kenyan market but they are sold in some specialty food stores and supermarkets. Examples are; Muscovado sugar or Demerara sugar.

These are types of brown sugar that are processed to a certain extent. When used in a recipe; they tend to give a deeper baking result in color.

7. Sanding Sugar

Sanding sugar are sugar crystals that have color in them. You can use sanding sugar to make a Sugar Sheet for cake decoration – click here to watch the tutorial on how.

In the Kenyan market, they’re a bit expensive and sold in smaller 50-gram containers. These are a type of decorative sugars that you can use in your decoration.

Sanding Sugars

You can purchase sanding sugar in Kenya via Cake supply shops.

8. Isomalt

If you’re an intermediate to advanced cake decorator, you may have heard of this type of sugar. It’s used a lot to make Isomalt sails, a sail is a type of sugar decoration used by Cake decorators.

Isomalt sail at top of cake (Image courtesy: Pinterest)

You do need to handle the Isomalt very carefully and make sure you know exactly how to use it. You have to heat it, it becomes a liquid and then you make a sugar sail out of it.

Isomalt Sugar packet

In the Kenyan market, it is also a bit expensive, but it is very available if you want it.

Isomalt sugar in Kenya is mainly sold by Cake supply shops such as Topserve Ltd.

In summary; some of the types of sugar used in baking & cake decoration are;

  • Granulated sugar
  • Caster sugar
  • Icing sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Molasses
  • Black treacle
  • Glucose syrup
  • Sanding sugar
  • Isomalt

I hope this post has been really helpful to you; please do share to help out other bakers and foodies as well ^_^

If you are curious about any other type of sugar not mentioned above and you would like to know more about it, please leave a comment below.

We sell locally triple-tested Recipe books (both e-books and printed versions), for details – click here.

We also offer: Practical classes and Online classes

For any inquiries; please send us a Whatsapp DM for class or ebook inquiries.

To learn about other ingredients used in baking and cake decoration, Click here.

Published by Amari

Baking with Amari offers learning experiences to those who want to experience & know what Bakers & Cake Decorators do in a practical, hands-on settting. We train our students using Cookswell original charcoal ovens. We also offer basic business start-up training for those who want to start small baking businesses. We do groups vocational training anywhere in East Africa as well. We hold classes in our home-based bakery workshop located on Ndwaru road in Riruta, Nairobi; off Naivasha road, next to Pelida School.

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