© Randal Oulton
Soft-ball stage is a cooking term meaning that a sugar syrup being heated has reached 112 – 116 C (234 – 240 F.)
It is a test of how hot a sugar syrup is, and of how much water is left in it. At this point of heating, the sugar concentration in the syrup is 85%.
You test by drizzling a small amount of the sugar syrup from a spoon into a cup of cold water. If the stage has been reached, the syrup will come together and briefly form a soft ball (more accurately, a soft clump with a bit of height to it.) If you take the clump out of the water, it will hold its shape for a short while then start to flatten back down further.
The soft-ball stage is called for in recipes for fudge, fondant, pralines, peppermint creams, Italian meringue, buttercreams, etc.
“Only a few degrees separate hard ball from soft ball.” Brenner, Michael, et al. Science and Cooking. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company. 2020. Kindle Edition. p. 45.
The stages of cooking sugar syrup are:
“Where do these names come from? Believe it or not, they come from what happens when you plunge a small amount of the solution into cold water: Soft ball feels like a soft ball. Hard crack is hard to crack. Early in the history of candy making, there weren’t accurate thermometers, and this “plunge the solution into water” method was in fact how people tested a sugar-water solution.” — Brenner, Michael, et al. Science and Cooking. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company. 2020. Kindle Edition. p. 45.
High altitude: For every 300 metres (1,000 feet) that you are above sea level, subtract 1 degree C (2 degrees F) from the temperatures given in your candy recipe.
Soft-Ball stage by thermometer
© Randal Oulton
|↑1||Brenner, Michael, et al. Science and Cooking. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company. 2020. Kindle Edition. p. 45.|