Expert Q&A

Icing sugar and icing sugar mixture: what's the difference?

The question that's had everyone stumped is finally answered.

Icing sugar and icing sugar mixture- what's the difference?

Question: What is the difference between pure icing sugar and icing sugar mixture?

It's one of the most commonly asked baking questions so you're right to be confused.

You've just started baking, scrolled down the recipe and suddenly are stumped: it calls for pure icing sugar but you only have icing sugar mixture in the pantry — is this the same thing or will it ruined your weekend cake-baking efforts?

Answer: Both of the sugars are pantry staples, and while they are very similar there are a few key differences between the two.

It can be a bit confusing with all the different sugars out there: icing, raw, muscovado, caster... the list is endless!

Thankfully, it's easy to explain the difference between the two icing sugars on the market.

Icing sugar mixture

Also known as confectioners' sugar or powdered sugar, is pulverised granulated sugar crushed together with a small amount (about three per cent) of cornflour. This icing sugar is great to use when making icing for kids' birthday cakes or dusting sweet treats.

Pure icing sugar

Similar in appearance to the former, is also made from pulverised granulated sugar but contains no cornflour. It requires a lot of fine sifting as it hardens with age.

For everyday cooking, icing sugar mixture does the trick; the only place where pure icing sugar is a must is when making royal icing, modelling fondant and the like. If you are gluten intolerant, be sure to choose pure icing sugar over icing sugar mixture as the latter is likely to have been sourced from wheat (however it will often say this on the packet).

Happy baking!

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