Cooking

How Now, Brown Sugar

How to keep your brown sugar from turning into a hard, useless lump
Photo: Katie Foster/Tasting Table
Spiced Sweet Potato Bread

It's a classic baking disappointment: You go to scoop out brown sugar, only to realize it feels like you're digging through granite. But don't think you're doomed to a life of constantly buying a new box every time you want to make a quick bread. Here are three easy ways to stop your brown sugar from turning into a sugary boulder, plus a quick tip for bringing it back from the dead.

① Leftover Bread
Even if that's not a phrase that's in your vocabulary, spare a slice for the sake of your baked goods to put in with your sugar. Brown sugar goes hard due to lack of moisture, so the idea here is that the sugar soaks the moisture out of the bread. You'll know it's working, since over time, the bread dries out and essentially turns into a crouton. A marshmallow is another option that works the same way.

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② Terra-Cotta Bear
If you don't want to keep food with your sugar, buy this brown sugar saver. It's a longer-lasting fix, as once the moisture is out of the bread, it doesn't work as well. Just don't be alarmed when you go to measure out the sweet stuff for cinnamon rolls and hit a piece of hard, animal-adorned terra-cotta.

③ Smarter Storage
The simplest and quickest fix is to ditch the box altogether. Cardboard flaps aren't airtight, so once you open the package, it's only a matter of time until you have a sweet, unusable rock. When you first open the box, transfer the sugar right away to a sealed container—that will help lock in moisture. Measuring scoops don't fit into the narrow box top anyway, so you're doing future you a favor.

If your brown sugar has gone too far, nurse it back to life by zapping it in the microwave for 20 seconds with a damp sheet of paper towel. Sweet potato bread, saved.

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