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July 3, 2008

Powdered ginger (Recipe: Kate's Ginger Shortcakes)

Powderedginger1

Once upon a time, Ted and I had a cat named Henry, who was the color of powdered ginger and had a temperament to match.

He was fiery and full of personality, sometimes unexpected, with a bit of a bite.

And that's just how I'd describe powdered ginger.

Also called ground ginger, powdered ginger is made by drying the fresh ginger rhizome, and then grinding it into a fine powder. As the rhizomes can be quite fibrous, it's best to buy the spice already ground. Purchase from a reliable source and, if possible, taste before you buy; the best quality powdered ginger should be pungent (not bitter) and lemony.

Used primarily -- though not exclusively -- for baking, powdered ginger's flavor is very different from fresh ginger. Many sources suggest that 1/8 teaspoon of dried ginger can substitute for 1 tablespoon of fresh or crystallized ginger, but please don't do it. Trust me; these are two different animals, fresh and powdered, and the taste isn't remotely the same.

In the 19th Century, British bartenders kept shakers of powdered ginger on the bar, so patrons could add a bit to their drinks. I don't know why or when the practice ended, but I say bring back the ginger shaker.

Keep one on the bar, to make your own ginger ale, and another on the kitchen counter, in case you get the urge to bake ginger-pear-saffron cake, molasses-ginger spice snaps, Guinness ginger cake, Chinese five-spice chocolate cupcakes, pumpkin spice scones, apricot and pistachio cake, or old-fashioned gingerbread.

Kate's ginger shortcakes

Pastry chef extraordinaire Kate Jennings, co-owner of Farmstead and La Laiterie in Providence, Rhode Island, created and gave her permission for me to share this recipe, which makes 6 large biscuits, perfect for afternoon tea. The double ginger, powdered and crystallized, gives these a more pronounced ginger flavor than the biscotti in my previous post.

Ingredients

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp powdered ginger
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold, cubed butter
3 Tbsp chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup buttermilk

Directions

Procedure: Mix dry ingredients by hand. Add cold, cubed butter and crystallized ginger, and cut in until combined. Add buttermilk and knead until the dough comes together. Make 6 large biscuits. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, until golden.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Spicy peanut noodles
Kicked-up gingerbread
Not-just-for-Thanksgiving pumpkin pie
Ginger-apricot biscotti

Comments

Ginger is a neglected spice in my house unfortunately - thanks for this post, it has got me thinking...

I find that the powdered ginger I buy in Asian supermarkets is much more "gingery" than American brands.

I intrigued that bartenders would put ground ginger in cocktails... do you know which ones? And how do you make your own ginger ale? With sugar and seltzer? Ground ginger is also prominent in (savory) Moroccan Cuisine - mixed with cumin, coriander and cinnamon.

I'm loving this ginger week! I had a fabulous drink in a restaurant last week of fresh ginger muddled with lemon and then topped off with sugar syrup and some sparkling water.

Nice pancakes!

Love the giner/lemon drink, Ann! I will experiment with it this weekend. Perfect for the 4th of July! Thanks, Lydia and Kate, for the Ginger Shortcakes. Sounds perfect to go with peaches.

Lydia, loving ginger week! I certainly hope there's a homemade ginger ale or ginger beer heading our way. The shortcakes sound divine.

I love Penzey's ground ginger. The flavor is so much more alive than the grocery store equivalent. Thanks for the link to the Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Cupcakes--they just may make their way into my menu for the 4th.

In a biscuit . . . the idea is that biscuits are so wonderful . . . why haven't I thought to change things with ginger in a batch. I so wish there'd been the internet when I was 20 or 30 . . . I am using more and more ginger all the time. Great on Lydia!

Was the powdered ginger sprinkled into beer or ale? That would make sense, but just curious what you found in your research.

Loving your ginger week! Mind you I love ginger, it's like chilli - makes you want more :)

This is something I'm more familiar with. And love it. :)

Berekley used to have a place called Ginger Island that used a lot of ginger in their food...reminds me of these biscuits and am imagining them in shortbread with tropical fruit and whipped cream. D'you think your cat would have liked these too?

SGF, ginger is so versatile. Hope this week's posts have given you some new ideas!

Rachel, you must have much better Asian markets than the ones near me, which are great for fresh ginger but not for powdered spices. I find that the prices are better at the Asian markets than at the regular supermarket, but the best powdered ginger seems to come from Indian groceries or from Penzeys.

Julia and TW, it seems that in England, ginger was originally added to beer and ale, and that the nonalcoholic version, which was invented in Canada, didn't really gain in popularity until Prohibition, when the strong flavor of ginger was used to hide the (equally strong) flavor of bootleg alcohol!

Ann, that drink sounds delicious...

Candy, you're right, peaches and ginger shortcakes sound like a wonderful dessert.

Marilyn, sadly this is the end of Ginger Week -- but there's likely to be another. Let's see... pickled ginger, ginger beer. What else?

Michelle, I thought the Five Spice cupcakes sounded great, and five-spice powder is definitely something in my pantry that's often overlooked. Please let me know if you make these.

MyKitchen, now I'll be watching to see where ginger shows up in your wonderful baked goods. I love the kick of really good powdered ginger, don't you?

Kelly-Jane, I agree. The taste is a bit addictive, in a good way.

Patricia, I'm guessing you have made some delicious ginger cookies?

Callipygia, we always thought that Henry, who we adopted as a stray, had grown up behind a Dunkin Donuts, because whenever we'd bring a donut into the house, he would come running right over -- and he would eat the entire thing. His favorite were plain donuts, but he also liked the glazed (oh, all the sugar!!), and probably would have eaten a ginger donut too, if it came from Dunkin Donuts!

I have not used powdered ginger before but I am a fan of bottled crushed ginger (esp the one from Whole Foods)

powdered ginger has this characteristic odor that i really love

I'm guilty! I use powdered ginger a lot in marinades in the summer... and, yes, sometimes in place of fresh if I forget to buy it...
But I love ginger bake anything: cookies, breads, your recipe....
I've added nutmeg to drinks, but not ginger, hmmmm...

Ginger is on my list of favorite spices. while i love the fresh version, powders are perfect for cakes etc. Over christmas i make ginger shortbread which taste great. The shortcakes here sound scrumptious!

Lydia, another great ginger recipe. I love ginger and just included some fresh ginger in a batch of homemade baked beans. These biscuits with buttermilk sound good.

Tigerfish, powdered ginger is used mostly in baking. It's definitely different in taste and pungency from the crushed ginger. Try it, if you can find it in your market.

Anjeline, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. I agree -- it has a wonderful aroma.

Katie, I use powdered ginger in place of fresh sometimes, too, when it's all I have on hand. But I find the two are very different, so I'm going to try to remember to keep fresh ginger bits in my freezer now.

Meeta, ginger shortbread sounds wonderful -- very traditional for the holidays.

Kim, ginger in baked beans? Yum!

oh, these shortbreads look great. I used powdered ginger often; on lamb, with butter and chili powder on popcorn.

Maybelles Mom, ginger and chili powder on popcorn?! Wow -- that would be a first for me!

I have a bottle sitting in my fridge now, coz I bought it to make gingerbread man over xmas but the ginger bread wasn't successful, argh ... I think I have to explore new ways of using the bottle, hee

Noobcook, hope you'll find some ideas in the posts from Ginger Week.

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