Syrup – The Bakers Friend


Whether used as a functional baking ingredient, golden syrup, smooth and sweet is a must have ingredient in any bakery.




Glucose syrup is used by the baking industry in a number of areas. In fermented products for instance, glucose syrup provides fermentable carbohydrates which control the product rheology. The reducing sugars enhance the browning reaction for crusts, and the oligosaccharides give control of the product texture.

Syrup is a highly concentrated (dry matter 80%) and partially inverted sugar solution which consists of sucrose, glucose and fructose. The mineral salts and organic fibres which originate from raw sugar, contributes to the colour and flavour. The darker the syrup, the richer it is in flavour and natural colour.

Apparently, all sugars are inverted to 60% of the dry matter with acid or enzymes. It is this high percentage of dry matter which improves shelf life and higher viscosity than pure sucrose solutions.


Baking syrups contain a larger quantity of beet sugar and molasses than the other syrups. It is the ratio between the different sugars which controls crystallization and the freezing point of the finished product. A great plus for syrup is that it mixes easily with other products.


Syrup can be used instead of sugar, honey or any other sweetener in just about any recipe. It improves both the texture and the shelf life of baked goods acting as a humectant, effectively retaining moisture.

Its main application in bakery products is in sweet bread, biscuits and ginger bread biscuits. It is also used in confectionary such as liquorice, fudge, toffee and caramels, in ice-cream and dairy products and in desserts, marinades, sauces and dressings. Syrup is known to have a positive impact on dough fermentation and proof.

Many cultures use syrups in traditional baking. The English use sugar syrup to glaze hot cross buns made for Good Friday and put golden syrup into treacle tarts. Babas, small rich yeast cakes of Eastern European origin, are soaked in rum flavoured syrup. In the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, many pastries require syrup as a sweetener.

A well known example is Baklava, made of layers of thin pastry with a nut filling, over which syrup is poured after baking (sugar syrup sometimes substitutes for the traditional honey. Jellabies (also jalebi) are deep fried batter spirals, widely made in the Middle East, and gulab jamun, Indian confections of flour and reduced milk, are sweetened and stored in syrup. Chinese and Japanese culture use malt syrup in traditional desserts and candies.

The correct storage of syrup is essential, it should be stored at room temperature in a dry place, away from exposure to air and heat, even before opening, Syrup should not be refrigerated as this will cause crystallization. On the home front, crystallized syrup can be revived by gently and slowly heating in a double boiler.

Containers should be closed tightly to prevent drying and mould growth. As it cannot be stored for extended periods of time, the ordering of syrup must be well controlled to ensure only the quantities needed are ordered at one time. Fortunately, this is easy to achieve with containers found in convenient sizes.



The story of syrup in South Africa is really the tale of two leading suppliers, Illovo Sugar Africa and Huletts.

Illovo’s range of syrups has been a trusted name in South Africa for many generations and has a proud heritage of producing the finest syrups. These syrups are ideal for use in cooking and baking, and as a topping for pancakes, waffles, scones, sandwiches and other tasty treats.

Illovo’s industrial syrup division supplies bulk syrup to industrial customers requiring the best ingredients for their manufacturing processes. These are used in the food manufacturing and processing industry. In addition to golden, traditional, maple, and caramel flavoured syrups, Illovo also provides value-added syrups to assist customers with specific requirements in their production processes, customized to suit requirements. Illovo’s Bulk syrup containers are available in 3.5kg and 25kg sizes.

On the retail side Illovo golden syrup is still popular among both adults and children and is available in mess-free 240g and 500g plastic squeeze bottles, and is also available in a larger 3,5kg plastic bottle (golden and maple flavoured syrups) and are ideal for baking purposes.

Illovo’s range of syrups are also complemented by a delicious range of toppings, for example, chocolate sauce, chocolate mint sauce, cappuccino sauce, and toffee sauce. These products are available in 500g plastic squeeze bottles.
The Traditional Syrup has a butter toffee flavour and is a great spreading syrup for sandwiches. The Caramel flavoured syrup is the ideal dessert topping syrup, while the Maple flavoured Syrup offers a distinctive maple flavour which is the perfect tea time treat.

Illovo’s range of indulgent toppings can be used as either a topping or baking ingredient. Two variants include Chocolate Sauce and Chocolate Mint Sauce. Recently Illovo also launched two new variants, namely, Cappuccino sauce and Toffee sauce in 500g squeeze bottles. These two flavours are ideal as a topping on ice-creams and also with most desserts.

Huletts is the oldest branded sugar in South Africa, having been, manufactured under the same brand name since 1892. The Huletts range is extensive and does not only encompass traditional white and brown sugars, but a wide range of retail, speciality and industrial sugar products, including a vast range of syrups for both retail and industrial customers such as bakeries.

Thus, between these two suppliers, bakers can find every conceivable variant and flavour of syrup to meet all their baking needs. However, nothing prevents bakers from flavouring the syrups to create their own signature flavours – for example, adding a spicy twist by adding spices such as chilly, cloves, pepper and anise to the syrup.


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