I felt that a post on dextrose might be due since it features in a lot of my recipes so far (and is not something you might have in your pantry, yet). For more info on why you should use dextrose rather than ordinary sugar, check out my about page.
Just to clarify from the beginning – dextrose is just another word for glucose – it’s the same thing. A little research I did showed that the full name is dextrose monohydrate and it is a simple sugar generated from the hydrolysis of starch, most commonly corn. The corn starch is treated with naturally occurring enzymes (they same as in our mouths) or acid. There is no way around the fact that this is a processed product, but at least it simulates natural occurrences (when we eat starch, it’s hydrolyzed by enzymes and broken down further by stomach acids to for example dextrose).
Generally glucose for baking and cooking uses comes in two forms: Powder and syrup (as seen in the photos above). The powder looks a lot like icing (powdered) sugar but is not quite a fine and it is only 50-75% as sweet as regular sugar. By regular sugar, I mean caster sugar (or brown sugar or raw sugar) = sucrose. These are all made up of glucose and fructose (usually in a 1:1 ratio).
So far (I will keep updating this post when I learn new things), I have found the following (as per David Gillespie’s Sweet Poison): You can substitute sugar straight over for glucose but you need to increase the wet ingredients or decrease the dry ingredients as glucose absorbs more liquids that regular sugar. Furthermore, it seems that if you cook with glucose and it’s not covered (e.g. as in my granola) you need to reduce the temperature to around 160C (320F) as it will otherwise get a burned taste, however, if the glucose is mixed into for example cake mix, I have had no problems or burnt taste from keeping the temperature at 175C (350F). In pretty much ever other regard when it comes to baking, it acts exactly like regular sugar.
Glucose syrup / liquid glucose:
So far I have only experimented a little with glucose syrup but what I have found is that you can swap this for honey in any recipe where the honey is used to make the end product sweeter (obviously honey has a distinct flavor which you don’t get from the syrup). Liquid glucose tastes sweet, but not as much as honey, however, it certainly is as thick and sticky!!!! I ended up with syrup everywhere, including my hair (!).
In contrast to glucose powder which absorbs moisture (and therefore needing extra liquids added to a recipe), glucose syrup keeps the baking moist and soft (and keeps it from going hard).
I find it easiest to remember that glucose swaps for sugar and glucose syrup swaps for honey. However, keep in mind that it’s less sweet. I have tried quite a few recipes doing this straight swap and ‘sugarholics’ liked them all the same. Myself, now that is a different matter. I actually don’t feel much like sweet things (wow, it feels nice to be able to say this), so when I fancy an occasional treat, I will make a recipe with only 1/4 of the sugar that you would put in a traditional recipe. I now find the amount I used to crave sickly sweet.
Most of the recipes I have on my blog are a happy medium – sweet enough to bring along to visit friends (who will like it) and not too sweet for myself :) So, if you are a fellow ex-sugarholic, you may be happy with the recipes as they are or possible cut down on the glucose (don’t forget to leave out a bit of liquids if using the powder version). In the opposite end, you could be a massive sugar fan and want to add in more (and then needing to add some liquid ingredients if using the powder version).
Where do I get some?
The powder in the top left photo I got from my local bulk shop in Auckland (Bulk Food Savings, by far the cheapest I have found at NZ $2.90 per kilo and second cheapest is dextrose from iherb at just over NZ$6 per kilo). I have heard that you can also find it in home-brew sections, but mainly I have seen it in the local supermarkets in smaller containers (Examples above: King Glucose – NZ$8.73 per kilo and Queen Glucose syrup – NZ$9.6 per kilo).
Need some recipes using glucose?
I can warmly recommend trying the recipes in the Sweet Poison Quit Plan by David Gillespie – I have been using a lot of tips and trying out a couple of recipes from this book which I will put up soon. I hear that he’s got a cookbook out as well (would love to get my hands on that and try them out). The only thing is that, for me, the recipes take some adaptation to be gluten and dairy free too (but hey-ho, I’m getting used to that!).
You can of course check out my recipes too (and to see more posts like this, follow my blog by email, see top right, or like it on Facebook) – here are some of the best ones (using glucose) from my blog: