As just about any baker knows, there may be nothing more frustrating in the kitchen than rock-solid clumps of brown sugar. But how do you break up those lumps on the quick without denting your countertops?
We've got a few suggestions to help you get that brown sugar where you need it on your watch.
If You Have Time in Advance:
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Seal sugar in an airtight container with a slice of sandwich bread - the crustier the better - and store it for 24 hours (no less than overnight). The moisture from the bread leaches into the sugar, leaving the bread stale - but the sugar moist.
A few drops of water on the clumps, sealed in an airtight bag for a few days, should do the trick too.
Apple slices work on the same principle as a slice of bread, but add a delightful autumn flavor. Put a few apple slices along with the sugar, seal it away, and in a day or two, your sugar should be ready to go.
A handful of mini marshmallows works just as well as bread or apple slices, too.
If You Need It ASAP:
You can even soften brown sugar in the microwave. Place sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and cover the bowl with a damp - not wet - paper towel.
Microwave on high for 15-20 seconds at a time. Don't go overboard with the time; letting it go only a few seconds too long can leave you with a bowl of scalding hot, melted goo.
You can also place the sugar in a small bowl in the microwave, along with a separate small dish of water. Microwave them for about one minute - keep a close watch - and add time if it isn't softening.
Place the chunk in a baking pan and place in a 250-degree oven. Check after about five minutes - if it isn't done, keep checking every minute or so until it's ready!
If nothing else works, the food processor will work in a pinch. A word of caution, though, very large or very dense chunks can cause damage!
While all of these ideas work just fine, there is an ultimate hack here: Just store it right in the first place!
Keep it in an airtight container; the smaller the better, to minimize space for air between sugar and lid. If you don't have something like that, a sealed plastic bag will work, too.