Spun sugar

Spun sugar

Spun sugar

Follow these step by step instructions to take the fuss out of making spun sugar decorations for cakes and desserts

  • 1 hr
  • Difficult


  • 500ml (2 cups) sugar
  • 125ml (½ cup) glucose
  • 125ml (½ cup) water


  1. Get everything ready before you start with the caramel. Cover your kitchen counter and floor with newspaper to catch any spills. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Grease a rolling pin (for sugar nests), the back of a metal ladle or small bowl (for sugar baskets) or sharpening steel (for sugar spirals) with non-stick spray.
  2. Heat the sugar, glucose and water on medium high, stirring until completely dissolved (do not boil until all the sugar has dissolved). Cover the saucepan with a lid and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid and brush the sides down with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
  3. Continue boiling the sugar syrup until the deep golden caramel reaches 150°C on a sugar thermometer. The sugar will cook very quickly towards the end, so watch closely to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  4. As soon as the sugar reaches the proper temperature, remove the saucepan from the heat and dunk the bottom in the prepared bowl with cold water to stop the sugar from cooking further. Allow the mixture to stand for a few minutes to thicken slightly.
  5. For sugar nests: hold the backs of two forks together, dip them into the caramel and stir. Take the forks out and rapidly flick back and forth over the prepared rolling pin from about 20cm above. The caramel should create very fine strands of sugar that drape over the handles. If the caramel doesn’t create any strands or the strands have a lot of ‘beads’, allow the caramel to cool for another minute. If the strands are very lumpy and difficult to form, re-heat the caramel very briefly. Continue to dip and quickly flick the fork over the handles, creating many fine strands of spun sugar. At any point you can remove the sugar that has accumulated and shape it into balls or nests.
  6. For sugar spirals: use one fork to dip into the caramel, shaking the excess off. Pull the caramel around the prepared steel, moving along in a spiral. If it’s too runny, you won’t be able to spiral it around the sharpening steel, but too hard and it won’t bend around the steel at all.
  7. For sugar baskets: use one fork to dip and pull the caramel strands back and forth and around the back of the prepared ladle or small bowl. Carefully lift the sugar off when hard. The colder the caramel gets, the firmer the basket will be.


A sugar thermometer works best, but if you don’t have one you can check if the caramel is ready by dripping some of the sugar syrup into a glass of ice-cold water. It is ready if it sets hard immediately.

Magazine issue date: May, 2015

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