Using Glycerin For Baking

Using Glycerin For Baking

Wondering how to keep baked goods fresh? The answer is vegetable glycerin

First, what is in vegetable glycerin and how does it work? 

Vegetable glycerin is a liquid derived from the oil of plants such as palm, soy, and coconut. Vegetable glycerin is a safe and natural product that is commonly used in skin care products, baking, and a variety of medicinal purposes. Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it naturally attracts and retains moisture which is why it’s such an ideal choice as a natural baking preservative. Vegetable glycerin is also considered a sweetener and is 60% as sweet as traditional sugar. 

What is the difference between glycerin and vegetable glycerin?

It’s important to note that you should always use a product that is explicitly vegetable glycerin, which is usually derived from coconut, palm, or soy plants. Any other type of glycerin has the potential to be derived from animal fats and/or contain non-natural ingredients. 

Is Glycerin a Preservative or a Sugar Substitute?

Good news, it’s both and we’ll cover both topics in this article. Overall, glycerin will extend the shelf life of your home baked goods and keep them more moist for at least several days.  As a sweetener, glycerin is generally 60% as sweet as traditional sugar but importantly, it has been shown to sweeten products without causing blood sugar levels to rise, making it ideal for diabetics.

How Much Glycerin Should I Use In a Cake Recipe?

Let’s learn how to extend the shelf life of your home baked goods. I’ve done plenty of research and experimented in my kitchen with my tried and true recipes and here's what I found.

  • Research says that the general rule is to add 2 tsp of glycerin to an average sized cake batter recipe and you're fine to use this general rule as as starting point.
  • A popular rule in commercial baking is for every 500 grams (or 1.1 lbs)  of flour add 1 tsp of glycerin. This amounts to 1 tsp of glycerin for every 4 cups of flour.
  • In my own experiments I found that adding slightly more glycerin to yellow or vanilla cakes is a good idea, while the standard formula works well for chocolate cakes or brownies. I use 2 tsp for the typical chocolate or red velvet cake, cupcake or brownie recipes and 3 tsp for my yellow/vanilla or lighter cake recipes.
  • Glycerin should be used to extend the shelf life of cakes, muffins, cupcakes, and brownies, but DO NOT use it in any bread recipes. There’s a whole bunch of technical reasons why but I can simply tell you that I tried it twice  and both tries resulted in a disaster. I believe it's the complex relationships between the gluten and sugars, and the rising process itself, that cause the adding of any glycerin to fail on bread recipes.  

I found this great video that explains more about using glycerin in the baking process and I hope you’ll check it out.

Glycerin can also be used when making icing

To keep your buttercream frosting smooth, especially when adding any food coloring to it,  add ½ tsp to 1 tsp of glycerine to the ingredients and mix until smooth. I add it in as the last ingredient and mix it up until the frosting reaches the consistency that I like. 

For royal icing (a hard white icing made with egg whites and sugar) add 1 to 2 tsp of glycerin to keep the royal icing smooth and also add a nice a shiny finish when it dries 

Glycerin as a Diabetic Sugar Substitute

Glycerin belongs to a special category of carbohydrates called polyols, which also includes sugar alcohols like sorbitol and erythritol. Glycerin tastes sweet but it is not metabolized as sugar in the body and doesn’t cause a rise in blood sugar. For that reason, it can be a preferred sweetener when cooking or baking for diabetics and those who are sensitive to blood sugar changes. It’s important to note that glycerin is in now way a low calorie sugar substitute. 1 tbsp of glycerin can substitute for ¼ cup of sugar.

There you have it. If you haven’t already read my article on the many uses  glycerin around the home please check it out. With all of the great uses of glycerin throughout the home I hope you will agree with me that keeping a jug or two of bulk vegetable glycerin in the pantry is a great idea.

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