SUGAR SYRUP | Ultimate Guide for Bakers and Bartenders
If you have made several cake recipes prior to now, you will agree with me that some cakes are naturally moist (5 minutes Redvelvet Cupcakes , Chocolate Cakes , etc); while some are fluffy (Classic Victoria Sponge Cake ). Thus, it’s ideal to strike a balance between moist and fluffy. This is the reason why I am sharing my all time simple syrup recipe.
WHAT IS SUGAR SYRUP?
This is simply combination of sugar and water that is brought to simmer over low heat setting, until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture is clear.
It is also called ‘Simple sugar syrup‘. There are two ways I make my sugar syrup. It’s either I use Ratio 1:1 (which is the popular version; and which means using equal parts of sugar to water), or Ratio 2:1 (which I refer to as a richer, thicker version; and this is using two parts of sugar to 1 part of water). There is also another ratio which I don’t use as I find it thinner and unsuitable for my baking purpose. It’s the Ratio 3:1 (which is three parts of water to one part of sugar). For cocktails, this ratio can be used.
WHY SHOULD I USE SUGAR SYRUP?
- As said earlier, some cakes are naturally light and dry. Hence you need to strike a balance between moist and fluffy. And your syrup creates that moisture. It’s is also a proven fact (by me of course 😀 ) that cakes like chocolate cakes, red velvet, etc which are naturally moist, tend to use less syrup than their sponge counterparts. What I mean here is if I have 6 layers of sponge cakes, where each layer is about 2″ or 2.5″ in height, I will end up using ½ cup of sugar syrup for all 6 layers. While if I have same quantity of cakes as chocolate or red velvet, I will use less quantity of sugar syrup.
- There might also be times, you might have overbaked a cake and it turned out dry (not burnt, but dry); at this stage, sugar syrup to the rescue! This will introduce into the dry cake, the extra moisture lost due to overbaking.
- For professional bakers who carve cakes into life size objects, sugar syrup is very much needed to prevent your cake layers from drying out. My favorite cake artist Yolanda Gammp always uses sugar syrup for her cake layers before stacking and covering!
- For those of us living in a country with humid weather conditions (hot weather condition), your sugar syrup is needed to keep those cakes moist to the last bite!
- If you baked a cake and need to keep it for decorations later, simply drizzle a simple sugar syrup over the cake and wrap with your cling film/plastic wrap, and your cake is safe.
- Now enough of cakes, let’s talk cocktails! For Bartenders, sugar syrup is primarily used as a substitute for raw sugar and adds rich volume. As we are working with liquids and ice in cocktails, sugar syrups have the advantage of already being dissolved making it easy to mix in to cocktails much faster and smoother than using granulated sugar. It is a basic and indispensable ingredient of cocktail making.
- Sugar syrup can also be used as a glaze and drizzled over some desserts. It could also be used to dress fruit salads
- Sugar syrup is also ideal for marinade. For example, a ginger syrup (don’t let the phrase ‘ginger syrup’ put you off, it’s just spice added as flavor which I will talk about shortly 😀 ) mixed with soy sauce is a great base for Asian Marinade. Or a citrus syrup can be used as a base for marinating chicken.
What’s not to love in sugar syrup?
WHAT KIND OF SUGAR CAN BE USED?
- I have always used Granulated White sugar (the regular sugar you see at the market). This produces a crystal clear syrup but is subject to change depending on the type of flavoring added
- You can also use Caster sugar. This has less granules and dissolves quickly.
- And have you tried using Brown sugar? It’s so perfect and the extra molasses in it create an indescribable rich flavor that makes it perfect for chocolate cakes and some drinks!
HOW TO STORE SUGAR SYRUP
Simply allow simple syrup cool completely after making, then pour into sterilized jars and seal properly with a lid. A ratio 1:1 syrup will last for a month refrigerated, while a ratio 2:1 syrup will last for 6 months refrigerated.
TWO METHODS FOR MAKING SUGAR SYRUP
- HOT PROCESS: This is the method I use as it saves me time and also last longer. It’s simply the heating method which I will talk about shortly.
- COLD PROCESS: This method is mostly used by Bartenders. It’s just adding room temperature water into sugar and keep stirring or shaking till sugar dissolves.
- Sugar syrup makes cakes soggy: This I assure you isn’t true. It only retains cake moisture to the last bite. For 6 layers of sponge cakes, I use ½ cup of sugar syrup and brush over the cake. If you are using a squeeze bottle, you would use up to a cup.
- Sugar syrup makes cake too sweet: Not true too. It doesn’t alter the overall sweetness of your cake
- Sugar syrup make cakes bad: Hell no! Sugar itself is a natural preservative. Hence the syrup won’t alter the shelf life of your cakes. So no, it doesn’t make cakes go bad.
SUGAR SYRUP FLAVORING:
Let’s spice things up a bit! You can always flavor your sugar syrup with any CAKE FLAVORINGS of your choice. Or you can go for herbs and spices. I usually mix my flavor with my sugar and water then heat up on low heat. For cake flavorings, you can stir in the flavors into the syrup once you remove syrup from heat. While for herbs and spices, it is idea you add the herbs and spices into saucepan while simmering the content. This will extract the flavor from the herbs or spices better.
For CITRUS SYRUP: You can use Lemon/Orange/Lime zest and also their juice. Add the zest to the sugar and water before simmering. If using their juice, divide the water quantity in the recipe to half. Instead of using for instance ½ cup water to ½ cup sugar (for a ratio 1:1 syrup), you can use ¼ cup water + ¼ cup lemon/lime/orange juice + ½ cup sugar. It is also important to note that the more concentrated the citrus juice, the more concentrated the sugar syrup. You can also skip the whole water in the recipe and use just the citrus juice! If I am feeding my traditional rich fruit cakes, and incorporating sugar syrup into it, I usually use a concentrated citrus syrup. Citrus and sugar are natural preservatives. Remember to sieve the syrup before storing or using to remove the zest.
For a SPICE SYRUP, which is ideal for marinade, cocktails and fruit cakes, you can use cinnamon sticks, cloves, mint leaves (chopped), basil leaves (chopped), ginger (peeled and coarsely chopped), coffee (ideal for chocolate cakes), vanilla beans (ideal for cakes), rich cocoa powder (ideal for chocolate cakes), etc
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- Add sugar, water, and flavor into a sauce pan, stir well to combine and moisten the sugar.
- Place sauce pan over low heat and keep stirring till sugar dissolves.
- Pour syrup into a bowl and allow it to cool. Store in sterilized jars or use right away.
To use on cakes, simply pour into a squeeze bottle and drizzle over your cake layers or use a pastry brush to apply the syrup generously on your cake.
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