Monday, November 30, 2009

Rant: Hold the Powdered Sugar

I love breakfast foods, and will eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Give me pancakes, French toast, or waffles. But when I order such items at a restaurant, I usually have to ask that the food is not served as usual. I request that they refrain from using a specific ingredient.

I don't want powdered sugar on my breakfast!

Powdered sugar, also known as confectioner's sugar, is simply a finely powdered sugar. Cooks seem to lightly dust this sugar on numerous items, from pancakes to brownies. It is partially a decoration but also adds some sweetness to the food. But I think it is over used. It seems to get added to far too many foods, creating more sweetness than is needed. For example, why should breakfast be such a sweet meal?

Many people add sweet syrup to their pancakes, French toast or waffles, so why do they need the added sweetness of powdered sugar? They really don't. If you don't want the sweetness of syrup, you may not want the sweetness of powdered sugar either. So it seems silly that powdered sugar is a regular addition to pancakes, French toast or waffles.

If anything, it should just be an option you can add to the food. You should have to ask for it to be added, rather than request that it be deleted. Most menus do not even mention that powdered sugar is added to these items. So if you don't see it on the menu, you can't assume that it won't be added.

Adding powdered sugar to many dessert items also seems superfluous. It adds more sweetness than is needed for many dishes. Such heavy handedness with powdered sugar seems a cop out, the easiest fix for an amateur chef. If your dessert was perfectly sweetened, then there would be no need for powdered sugar. Your dessert, just like your breakfast items, should be able to stand on their own.

So what are your thoughts on powdered sugar?


The Wine Whore said...

I hate powdered sugar! For me it's the culinary equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. I'm not sure why it bothers me so much but I do know that eating it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Is it just me?


Sunday Cook said...

As a baker with powdered sugar in my repertoire, I will agree that it is grossly overused (not by me, of course!). I will allow that there are many treats where it is appropriate, but it can also be a powdery menace. I don't like this trend of breakfast as dessert at all (no, I don't want whipped cream on my waffles either), but then again, I'm more of a huevos rancheros kinda gal.

But kourebiedes (Greek butter cookies), Mexican wedding cookies and a powdered doughnut wouldn't be the same without. Plus, how can we hide the scars on the cake that didn't release properly from a bundt pan? :-)

One item of note, most powdered sugars actually contain cornstarch (not lots, but some) and those who are sensitive/allergic to corn should know that.

Kristen said...

I'm right there with you. It's messy and used as a garish makes things overly sweet. I'm a huge fan of waffles and diners and, funny enough, often find myself eating waffles in diners. Half the time the waitstaff sound shocked at my request for no sugar. "Just butter and syrup." "No powdered sugar?"

Glad to hear I am not the only one! :)

Richard Auffrey said...

So glad to see all the support on this issue. I certainly agree it can have its place on certain items, but it is used far too often. If I want sweets for breakfast, I'll have a donut or sweet roll. I don't want a sweet waffle or pancake.

Gracias Merci said...

I came to this party half a decade late, and I'm here to chime in: Powdered Sugar Haters United. It poses an aspiration risk when sprinkled on food. It tastes bad in dessert frosting / icing

{adding heated milk rather than cold milk to butter cream frosting dimishes the bad flavor slightly, but still, hey, learn to make a boiled icing that calls for regular sugar, already, eh?};

the texture of food with confectioner sugar included is gritty;

finally, I am convinced the reason more folks do not hate powdered sugar is that they gobble down sweet food so quickly they just plain do not notice it's been ruined by that dreaded item.

I dislike sprinkles on top for similar reasons.

Unknown said...

I could not agree more. If a food already has sugar in it (cake, muffin) why then do we need even more sugar? For items without sugar, why should we be forced to eat it when they don't even ask if you want it or mention it is used?

I once ordered pancakes at a cafe thinking I would be given pancakes with a side of butter and syrup which I would not be using. I get the pancakes to find they were doused in syrup, had lines of poured chocolate and on top of this, had icing sugar, as we call it, dusted...i spent a good time attempting to remove it. Not only is it unhealthy but causes me heartburn