What is Glucose?
Glucose is used in baking as a sweetening agent in breads, cakes, cookies, pastries, and crackers. It also imparts moisture and tenderness to baked goods.
It’s a simple sugar, or monosaccharide, derived from the breakdown post-consumption of food – and is a major source of energy. In fact, it’s the primary type of sugar found in blood. Glucose provides four calories per gram.
In the baking industry, glucose is primarily utilized as a flavor enhancer as a sweetening agent in breads, cakes, cookies, pastries, crackers, and virtually any baked item in which sweetness can be tasted. Secondary functions of sugar include imparting moisture and tenderness to baked goods.
If too much glucose is consumed at one time, the excess is stored in the liver in the form of glycogen. At times when the level in the blood stream drops significantly, glycogen is utilized to compensate for the low levels. The major hormone utilized in blood sugar regulation is insulin, released by the pancreas.
Improper regulation of glucose leads to hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Individuals with hypoglycemia yield an extremely low volume of glucose in the blood stream caused by overproduction of insulin and is remedied by additional consumption to compensate. High glucose levels in the blood results in hyperglycemia and must be regulated by the addition of insulin to promote storage or promote metabolism of the excess blood sugar.
Healthier options for sugar replacements include:
- Date sugar
- Maple sugar
- Agave nectar
Granulated sugar is not the sole form of sugar used in baking applications. Liquid glucose, or sugar syrup, is used to impart extra moisture and softness to products such as cakes, and also used for ease of handling in icings or frostings.
In cakes, sugar syrup is usually added during the creaming stage with sugar and butter. When sugar syrup is utilized in royal icing or frosting, the syrup serves the purpose of preventing hardening and improving viscosity of the frosting.
More specifically, sugar gives cookies their crisp texture and assists in spread. In breads or rolls, sugar not only gives flavor but aids in crumb color, grain texture, and volume. Furthermore, all products able to form a crust utilize sugar in a chemical reaction called a Maillard reaction, where proteins and sugars react to enhance crust color and flavor.