The Simple Way To Soften Brown Sugar Fast

Baking can be full of challenges and disappointments. A collapsed souffle, a poorly risen dough, or a charred crust can leave bakers feeling deflated. There's no reason though that one of these challenges should be chipping away at a block of hardened brown sugar like Michelangelo carving his statue of David.

It can be frustrating to stop during the flow of mixing your dough, batter, filling, or frosting to deal with brown sugar. Throwing your seemingly fossilized bag of brown sugar onto the counter until one of them breaks is a perfectly reasonable response, but there are better options out there. While you could use a brown sugar substitute, you can also use methods that will easily soften brown sugar.

The reason that brown sugar hardens is that it has a higher moisture content than standard white sugar (via Does It Go Bad). According to Healthline, white sugar is simply brown sugar that has been processed further to have the remaining bits of molasses in it removed. When the moisture in that molasses evaporates naturally it causes the sugar crystals to clump together. It doesn't mean that it's gone bad or that it's unsafe to use, it just needs some help to return to its original form.

Soften brown sugar in the oven

According to Reader's Digest, one of the easiest ways to soften brown sugar is to use the oven. Most baking calls for preheating the oven anyways, so this is just a small step that will help save you a lot of trouble. It recommends chipping off a piece, wrapping it in aluminum foil, and placing it in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Insider notes that trapping the sugar in the aluminum foil allows the heat to slowly loosen the crystals. It also recommends checking it every five minutes or so and breaking up any of the remaining clumps with a fork.

A more proactive measure is to also keep your brown sugar from hardening in the first place. Food52 reports that you can keep brown sugar from hardening by keeping it in an airtight container, and adding a marshmallow, piece of white bread, or cut up pieces of apple to it. The moisture of any of these other foods will keep the sugar from drying out, and save you plenty of time in the long run.