The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

glycerin in muffins

dolcebaker's picture

glycerin in muffins

Reading a recipe for gluten free muffins, the person added food grade glycerin to help maintain moisture. Doing a brief search, I found it is a vegetable oil byproduct and natural. No place could I find anything else about its uses excepI use it as an addative when making fondant.  I would like to know more about it's uses.   Basically how to use it!  - proportions

I want to do more with whole grain 'healthy' muffins as well as gluten free.  I am baking muffins for an adult day center and there seem to be a lot of older folks whith dentures and diabetes.  The owner cooks lunch and the health dept guidelines say no 'white' sugar.  At least they are getting something right!   The people to my knowledge, don't have gluten intolerence, but I have read that wheat is bad for diabetes (high glycemic?), so I thought of incorporating the two into a 'healthy hybrid'.  The gums used in gluten free are also natural products that I have seen listed many times on commercial bread labels I expect they help retain moisture also.  

Alternative baking?  

hanseata's picture

There are so many great gluten free pastry recipes available in several baking blogs, like Gluten Free Goddess or the Spicy RD, to name only a couple of them. Making good gluten free pastry is much less challenging than making good gluten free bread, because you can use a lot of nice ingredients (like nut flours) that you would normally not use in regular bread, and the dough is very different.

I would not use any artificial ingredients like glycerin, if not really necessary. You can achieve a nice moisture in most cases without it.

Here is a great gluten free (and vegan) cupcake recipe. I made those cupcakes for a meeting where one participant had a gluten intolerance. I told nobody they were gluten free or vegan, and they were gobbled up in no time.




1 cup soy milk

1/3 cup canola oil

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1/4 cup tapioca flour

2 tbsp. ground flaxseed (as substitute for the egg)

1/3 cup almond meal

1/2 cup white rice flour

1/2 cup quinoa flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

  1. In large mixing bowl combine soy milk, canola oil, sugar and extracts. Mix with electric mixer on medium speed just to combine.
  2. Add tapioca flour and flaxseed and mix vigorously for ca. 1 minute, until flour is dissolved and mixture well blended. 
  3. Add almond meal, white rice flour, quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix really well on medium-high for ca. 2 minutes (don't worry about overmixing - there's no gluten!).
  4. Fill cupcake liners a little over 3/4 full (since they won't risevery much).
  5. Bake for 20 - 23 minutes, until a needle comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.



1/4 cup soy milk

4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tbsp. maple syrup

  1. Bring soy milk to a gentle boil in a small saucepan. Immediately remove from heat, and add the chocolate and maple syrup.  Using a rubber spatula, mix the chocolate until it is fully melted and smooth. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
  2. When cupcakes have cooled completely, place dollop of chocolate ganache on tops, spreading it with spoon a bit. Let frosting cool, then apply a second layer of chocolate ganache.

This recipe is adapted from the wonderful book "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Though I'm not a vegan, I love these cupcakes, they taste great and are moister than non vegan ones. The gluten free cupcakes have, of course, a bit denser crumb than regular ones, but they taste really very good.




dolcebaker's picture

Thank you for the recipe, and I will try it.  But, I am not looking for gluten free recipes.  I had a book with some wonderful recipes; however, I never used quinoa flour, and can't find my book.   I don't need vegan and not sure they would like the taste of soy milk.  

You have in your recipe 'ground flaxseed (as substitute for the egg)'.  I am not familiar with that substitution.   Egg provides qualities to baking and nutrition and I don't have any reason to leave it out.  

I add ground flaxseed to add fiber.  I never knew it provided the same benefits in baking as an egg, these are the things I would like to learn about.

I am looking for an understanding of the substitutions and additions that are in use.  I read that glycerin is considered a natural vegetable product and the moisture enhancement interested me.  Nut flours have a good taste, but they are also expensive and not entirely needed.    

This is basically for an elderly population, with a lot of diabetic members.  Since GF is better for diabetics,  I wanted to incorporate some of the qualities in combination(cost) with traditional baking ingredients.  Brown rice flour will add fiber, lower some of the starch that is bad for diabetics, and with natural sweeteners like prunes and raisins I can lower the sugar content which GF does not address.  They are not happy about my not using ‘white sugar’ as it is.  I will be trying Agave next for sweetness instead of Splenda in the strictly diabetic non-sugar batches.   Sugar is known to maintain moisture, and this is why I was interested in the glycerin, for the sugar free muffins.   



Jolly's picture

Have you thought of using soft white whole wheat pastry flour, instead of using whole wheat flour to produce soft moist muffins? Its very inexpensive flour!

To my soft white pastry flour I'll add oat and barley flake flour. I use these flours because they're high in fiber and nutritional values. The oat and barley flake flours are different and when the flakes are milled it produces a very light fluffly flour. And what I like about these high fiber flours they actually help lighten whole grain breads, muffins, and pancakes. They also help produce moist muffins.

I mill my own oat and barley flake flour, but I have seen milled flake flours in super markets in the Health Food Section look for (Bob's Red Mill).

High Altitude Baking---whenever I bake at the altitude of 5,000 ft. everything comes out super dry. So to deal with dry muffins, you need to use oil not butter, and you also need to avoid using brown sugar and use white sugar it will help set the batter faster. Buttermilk also helps. Applesauce or pears I have found helps produce moist muffins.

Sugar Substitutes---I would use Stevia, organic juices, honey and agave syrup. I would also use plenty of dehydrated fruits, such as raisins, cran-craisins, and dates. And chop whatever dehydrated fruits you may select to disperse the sweetness of the fruit throughout the muffins.

Also add Chia seeds, plus ground flax seeds to the muffins, they are natural flavor enhancers, plus their loaded with omega 3 and contain scads of nutritional values. Chia seeds will enhance the sweetness of the muffins and help preserve the moisture in the muffins longer.

They now have have white chia seeds I buy them through < >

As for glycerin its and all natural product I've used it and its expensive. I simply couldn't afford to buy it. But when I was baking with glycerin I use my honey cookbook and the recipes worked just fine.

NOTE---oat and barley flake flour when combined with wheat, will keep a diabetics insulin balanced. So if you want to use whole-wheat just add some oat/barley in the recipe along with some Chia seeds.

I highly recommend soft white whole-wheat pastry flour it won't absorb as much moisture as whole-wheat flour. I'm sure you will end up with soft moist muffins.

Baking Muffins---all problems in baking a truly moist muffin start at the elevation of 3,000 ft. and on up. This is the point where you will need to begin revising your recipes. You may have to bake up a muffin recipe about 8 times to fine tune it to your altitude. Most conventional cookbook recipes are for at sea level baking.

One of the hardest muffins to bake at high altitudes are Bran muffin. I finally baked up a moist bran muffin but I had to fine tune my recipe 8 times.  It's delicious!




dolcebaker's picture


You are very knowedgable on this subject, Thank You!  Unfortunately 'inexpensive' is a matter of budget.  Anything in the health food section I consider expensive, flours are generaly over $1 a lb approaching and in some cases exceeding $2 a lb.  As supermarket flour is now $2-3 for 5 lb, KAF of course is almost double.  I have been adding oatmeal and potato starch.  I read that I can make homemade oat flour by putting oatmeal in a food processor or blender.  I haven't looked into Chia seeds, thinking they might not be good with dentures.  Do they break down when cooked?  Sometimes I add ground flax for the fibre, now I will add it more often.

I have also been looking for and been unable to find White Whole Wheat Pastry Flour.  White whole wheat by KAF is in my stores, but no pastry flour.  I occasionally get to shop at a local restaurant supply, Restaurant Depot, but they don't carry a lot in flour. I get duram flour for bread and plan to try using that in muffins since it isn't so high in gluten, there cake flour is 'high ratio' which means (I think) it will accomodate a lot of white sugar, but I use bleached AP because it is softer than unbleached and I am trying to cut back on white sugar.  They have regular pastry flour, but I have enought pails of flour now.  What you said about white sugar was interesting, I never heard that before.  I make batches of 24-48 a couple times a week, so the cost of flour is a consideration to my very tight budget.  Someone someplace on this site suggested a 'autolyse' for the whole wheat flour... then I guess add a little extra liquid?  I do a batch of sugar free, or mostly sugar free some things just come out better with some brown sugar.  bought some agave, haven't used it yet. 

Thanks again for all the suggestions.  

There is a health food co-op, though not nearby, they tend to have some things I can't find elsewhere, but they are 45min - 1 hr drive.  Maybe I can buy large quantities from them if I join.  

Jolly's picture


I forgot how expensive flours are today. I've been milling my own flour for ages. I agree with you these flours are very expensive. I buy grains and flakes through a co-op up to 25 and 50 lb bags.

The reason I buy so much at one time we live in mountain country. Were surrounded by mountains and lakes and driving to the city is a big thing for me. I need to be well stocked.

That's another reason why I mill my flour. I also live by a Grainery that Mills all kinds of flour so that helps out too.


Chia Seeds---are very small seeds, which I grind in my coffee grinder. And you don't need to use much either and they can be expensive. I bought mind on line. Bought in volume to get a good price. You just need to shop around and look for the best price.

When you grind Chia seeds in a coffee grinder you don't even notice them in the batter. So they won't stick to dentures.

Now if you join a co-op you can buy grains, and oat/barley flakes real cheap. Then place flakes in a food processor and grind them until you have a real fine flour.

I just love barley flake flour its awesome. I like combining oat/barley flakes flours together.

I bought 25 lbs Nine Grain flakes from Montana Milling it contains Hard Red Wheat, Oat Groats, Triticale Berries, Rye Berries, Dehulled Barley, Soft White Wheat, Spelt Berries, Hard White Wheat, and Flax. Cost 12.75.

I'm thinking of all nutritional values these nine flakes will add to my muffins, plus the fuber.

I made a mistake in telling you what kind of flour I'm milling and using to bake my muffins with. It soft white wheat it can be substituted for pastry flour, its much better by far than store bought pastry flour.

Store Bought Pastry Flour---its a white flour made from soft white wheat flour. Occasionally they are mixed with bread flour.

Using bleached flour to make muffins for these older folks its really bad. You're not offering them much in nutritional value. You also said some are diabetics so using bleached flour will spike up their insulin to no end.

You say you have buckets of pastry flour am I right? Whole grains are good for diabetic and will keep sugar levels from spiking. Use the pails of pastry flour you have on hand it would benefit these older folks more than unbleached flour and durum flour you're planning to use.

Add flax seeds, wheat germ and nutritional yeast and later if you decide to buy Chia seeds, you can add ground Chia to the muffins, its wonderful for diabetics.

Omit bleached flour all together. I would pitch it in the trash. That's how bad it is.

Look for a co-op to start buying your grains and flours. Older folks need good nourishing baked goods.


clazar123's picture

Agave 20 cal/teaspoon

Sugar 16 cal/teaspoon

Honey 20 cal/teaspoon

I'm not so sure that agave or honey are actually "healthier" than sugar. They may take longer to put a blood sugar up but are still carbs that need to be counted and covered with insulin.

Moisture can be added to  muffins with pumpkin puree,applesauce or any pureed vegetable. Sugar can be a reduced amount or a splenda/sugar mix.Most muffins these days are way too sweet, anyways, and are more like a dessert or cake.You can reduce the calorie load by decreasing the serving size or decreasing the carbs. Adding lower calorie additions like grated zucchini also helps retain moisture and bulk up the size while keeping the calories lower.Additionally,most folks don't have a problem with wheat based eating but may have a problem with almond meal and ground flax or other seeds.Xanthan gum and guar gum can cause great gastric distress in some people(esp older folks). Guar gum was the original bulkfiber available to be stirred into water for constipation. Turns out it caused more problems than it solved and is no longer used! Make sure your substitutes aren't going to be worse than the original ingredients!

All muffins are carb rich. If I'm going to eat a muffin, I would choose a smaller serving of great tasting muffin over a large serving of a "healthy" cardboard muffin any day. Why don't you try the Mayo Clinic site for recipes. They often have great ideas.

dolcebaker's picture

'I bought 25 lbs Nine Grain flakes from Montana Milling it contains Hard Red Wheat, Oat Groats, Triticale Berries, Rye Berries, Dehulled Barley, Soft White Wheat, Spelt Berries, Hard White Wheat, and Flax. Cost 12.75.'

I paid about $8 for 25lbs of Sam's Club bleached AP, only reason I bought it is because it is softer than unbleached and it does work better in muffins. Then I started to combine other flours...    I am in central Florida, all the food prices are higher to begin with, and shipping on flour from up north... well... at times it is double the cost of the item.. so I really look local.  I have a hard time just finding barley for soup, don't even think about barley flour! 

Mayo clinic etc... anyplace mainstream AMA, has less options in the healthy arena than health stores, etc.  From my own personal experience many years ago, I had a doctor tell me to follow a diet for an illness that My common sense said was wrong, and when I argued  with the doctor... he finally said he agreed with me, but had to tell me to do what the AMA said he should do...  Not just politicians that are dodo's!    

I did some investigation on Chia seeds and plan to seek them out, they are really some good stuff.  I do try to add some fruite or jam (sugar free) to the muffins, the day center uses them as part of their breakfast and insists I make them with high fiber and low sugar, mostly brown -- dietetic rules by the state-- no white sugar.   Diabetics seem to crave sugar, so I try my best to do what's best and I think natural sweetners are better than test tube.  Calories are not all that matters, its the way the body processes it, how the body sees the molecules.  Unfortunately white sugar is necessary to get some of the American outcomes wanted and for desired reactions, but not in such huge quantities that so many people are used to having.  Hence my looking into things like glycerin for moisture retention with the whole wheat flour. 

I bought a donut the other day from a new donut shop that is doing great business and I couldn't eat the filling it was so sweet... and I know everything they make is from a bag of mix. 

I have to order my high gluten unbleached bread flour through a business... can't find it local, last bag I got was a 50lb bag of All Trumps and it cost $23 from the local cheap supplier.  I asked for their brand of it and got the name brand.   The Restaurant supply I can shop at - not necessarily the least expensive - doesn't carry unbleached flour, but I can get durum semolina for bread, which last December cost me $23 for 50 lbs.   Cake flour was up to $18 a bag, still much cheaper than the supermarket (if you can find cake flour).   Rest Suply has regular bleached pastry flour for about the same 17-20 for 50 lbs, no un bleached.  I'm just now needing more unbleached bread flour, KAF runs around $7 for 10 lbs in Sams.  Really irks me that we have a mill about 2 hrs from me (good product) and they only sell by the semi or pallet. Refuse to sell retail at all and they make everything I would want for bread and cakes.  I'd love a price compare to up north, maybe it's not just my area.  But a couple-3 years ago I never paid more than 12 or 13 for any 50 lb bag.

pattersnat's picture

I don't have any experience using glycerin in baking, so I'm not really qualified to weigh in here but I stumbled on your topic and was curious so I poked around a bit. Because you said that many of the folks you're baking for are diabetic I thought you might want to know, one of the articles I was reading said that "glycerine is a sweetening option worth experimenting with, unless one is pregnant or has high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease". (I tried to include the link, but the spam filter vetoed)

I'm not really sure what their reasons are, but I thought you might want a heads up before you use it for your clients.

clazar123's picture

Here is a good link about various ingredients (including glycerine)

Scroll down to the paragraph about glycerine.

dolcebaker's picture

Just did a quick read of the article.. thank you.  I was interested in its use for moisture retention, apparently the manufacturing community uses it also.  It didn't say anything really bad about it, just not known. Hmmm.  I didn't even realize it was used for sweetening, which would I think require a lot more in product than I was planning to use.   But I will go back and digest it later.  

Thanks again.


Wheatoholic's picture