White and brown sugar are two types of sugars commonly used in baking recipes. Although essentially the same, they have a few differences.
White sugar, or sucrose, comes from sugar cane or sugar beets and all granulated white sugar will taste the same. White sugar granules can come in different sizes. The white sugar that is commonly used in the kitchen for baking and sweetening drinks is simply standard granulated sugar. However, superfine granulated sugar is also available.
Brown sugar is simply sucrose with the addition of molasses. Molasses changes the color of sugar to brown but light brown sugar contains less molasses than dark brown sugar. Brown sugar overall is moister and stickier than white sugar and will dry out and harden very quickly if left exposed to air. It is unrefined, causing it to have a larger amount of minerals than white sugar.
Uses of Each
Brown sugar should be packed when measuring. It should be used to add moistness to recipes and a richer flavor. White sugar is used for everyday sweetening of coffee, tea and simple baked goods.
White sugar used to come in blocks rather than in bags as it does today. It was once known as "white gold" because it was considered a luxury and only available to the wealthy.
Substitutions for Each
White sugar may be substituted with corn syrup or honey. One cup of each equals 1 cup white sugar (also, cut the liquid called for in the recipe by 1/4 cup). White sugar and brown sugar can be used interchangeably, however, the recipe may lose some of its richness and moisture if brown is substituted for white. To prevent this, add a tablespoon of molasses to the sugar.