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I want to bake a cake but I don't have light brown sugar. Can I replace it with white sugar?

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The result might not be exactly the same (in color/taste/texture), but basically, the substitution will work. Textural change will be due to the original recipe taking advantage of the molasses content of what is commonly sold as brown sugar.

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    The cake may well end up drier. Most would think this is because of the missing molasses, but the more likely cause is that the cake may rise a bit more with white sugar allowing it to dry more during baking. If you do happen to have any molasses on hand though, you can add some, for light brown say 2-3 tablespoons to a cup, and mix it very well and you now have light brown sugar. – dlb Nov 1 '16 at 16:43
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You can substitute white sugar for light brown sugar with no problem, in my experience.

Make sure you substitute by weight (grams/oz), and not by volume(cups/spoons). This is because brown sugar is slightly more dense, so you get more sugar in a cup than you do with light brown.

  • I'm never one to speak ill of measuring by weight but ATK has the same weight to volume conversion for both granulated sugar and packed brown sugar - 7 oz to a cup. – Catija Nov 1 '16 at 16:51
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    King Arthur's Ingredient Weight Chart has packed brown sugar at 7.5 oz per cup, which would make it denser than white sugar at 7 oz per cup. – Kareen Nov 2 '16 at 19:44
  • @Kareen: Thanks. I've corrected the answer. I mis-remembered. – Carmi Nov 7 '16 at 10:36
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You can make brown sugar from white sugar if you don't have brown sugar on hand. As explained on Cook's Country (paywall):

In the test kitchen, we’ve found that pulsing 1 cup of granulated sugar in the food processor with 1 tablespoon of molasses makes a fine substitute for light brown sugar. For dark brown sugar, use 2 tablespoons of molasses for the same 1 cup of granulated sugar.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Don’t have any brown sugar in the cupboard? Make your own by mixing molasses into white granulated sugar. Or simply add the molasses along with the wet ingredients in your recipe.

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Yes, you can substitute brown sugar with white sugar but brown sugar is usually less sweet so I would suggest ever so slightly increasing the amount sugar you put into the cake mixture.

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