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I am reading an American Pastry & Pies cookbook and they say the sugar granules in sweet short crust pastry stabilize it and recommend using granulated sugar. So does this mean the bigger the sugar grains the better? I assume there would be a limit to how big you want to use. I am half American and using my experience of sugar in both countries I will grade what is available here and the US in grain size to help answer the question.

powered sugar/ icing mix - white powder

confectioners sugar / castor sugar - like very fine white sand with tiny separate grains

brown sugar* not raw sugar - small sticky brown grains

granulated sugar - unified small individual white grains

white sugar - cane sugar, most similar to granulated sugar but grains can vary in size and shape depending on brand and processing - white

Raw sugar - large translucent brown individual grains (I have never seen this available in supermarkets in the US and when Australians say brown sugar in their tea/coffee they usually mean raw sugar*)

coffee sugar - big dark brown translucent 3-5mm cubes.

Thank you.

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    What book are you reading that made this statement? And what was the context of the statement - why did they choose to emphasize the importance of the type of sugar there? The word "stabilize" sounds odd to me in the pastry crust context. Different grain sizes of sugar will certainly produce different textures in a pastry dough - as you might expect, finer grains of sugar produce finer texture crusts than coarser sugars. For some heavier pastries it might be desirable to use a coarser sugar to make a crust that has more supportive texture (less break-y). – Stephen Eure Dec 24 '14 at 18:40
  • Confectioner's sugar is powdered sugar with a little added corn starch. Castor sugar is also known as superfine sugar. They are not the same thing. – Air Dec 28 '14 at 4:29
  • A quick Google search showed lots of recipes that use powdered sugar. I didn't see anything that used a sugar with a bigger granule. So I would guess it would depend on the context of your recipe. – Jemmeh Mar 5 '15 at 16:31
  • You forgot pearl sugar... ;-) – Fabby Apr 17 '15 at 21:58
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Granulated to caster ie: fine sugar is the most recommended. I use caster sugar to get a smooth transition in the pastry. Then chill at least 20 minutes before baking to relax the gluten so it is nice and flaky.

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