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What is Loaf Sugar?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Loaf sugar is sugar which comes in the form of a solid block, rather than as a granulated substance. Through the early 20th century, the bulk of the sugar on the market was in loaf form, for a variety of reasons. Several sugar producers continue to make sugar this way as a nostalgia item, and in the developing world, it continues to be extremely common.

To make loaf sugar, sugar producers pour hot sugar syrup into a mold which is in the shape of a cone or loaf. When the sugar cools, it can be wrapped and packaged for shipping and eventual sale. The advantage to this shape is that it is easy to handle and ship, because blocks are much less difficult to handle than granulated sugar. Producers also obviously do not need to worry about clumping.

The disadvantage of loaf sugar for cooks is that it can be difficult to handle in the kitchen. It was often hung from the ceiling in the kitchen, although it could also be stored in cupboards. Historically, people used tools known as sugar nips to break chunks of sugar off so that they could use it in cooking and baking. Because of the difficulty involved in obtaining precise measurements, loaf sugar was especially irritating for bakers. It also had to be thoroughly broken up so that it would not clump in baked goods and other foods.

Most loaf sugar on the market today is made with minimally processed sugars, but technically any sort of sugar could come in loaf from, from highly refined white sugar to demerara sugar. A Mexican version known as piloncillo is usually made with lightly refined sugar, and it is readily available in Mexican markets.

The major substantive difference between loaf and granulated sugar, other than the texture, is the moisture content. Loaf sugar is higher in natural moisture, which can in turn play a very important role in baking, where moisture becomes critical. If you have a recipe which calls specifically for this type of, you may want to add a drop of molasses to the recipe if you use granulated sugar, to make up for the lack of moisture. If, on the other hand, you are using loaf sugar in a recipe which calls for granulated sugar, you may need to up the amounts of dry ingredients like flour to cope with the extra moisture.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon174733 — On May 11, 2011

Good luck with the weight. It seems to have varied so you will need to make an educated guess.

By anon83144 — On May 09, 2010

I think this person wanta to follow a recipe, though. If they have never made it before, how are they supposed to know that? They are asking a question of equivalence. This is something I would like to know as well!

By anon62410 — On Jan 26, 2010

My personal suggestion in determining how much is this: How sweet do you want it to be? Sugar amounts to personal taste.

By hdaycare — On Jun 04, 2009

We are making Ginger Beer from an old, old recipe calling for one loaf of sugar.

What is the equivalent using white or brown granulated sugar in today's measure?


Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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