Friday, February 6, 2009

Ginger has a way of doing that

Sometimes I am completely smitten by the appearance of baked goods. Lovely cupcakes frosted with a perfect swirl of pastel icing. Tiny cookies bathed in a pale matte glaze. Rich, dark bundt cakes dusted with delicate powdered sugar. Like, I see them and I swoon.

Which is what happened when I spied these double-ginger cupcakes with lemon glaze. Even the words that make up the name are delightful: double ginger, lemon glaze. Those seven syllables are completely evocative of something tasty, and flavorful and pretty. So pretty. Smiling up from their wee foil wrappers, these robust treats show off their pretty lemon cloak as if to say, If I had eyelashes, I would bat them at you.

Even so, these darling cupcakes are not about...looks. Their charming simplicity belies a world of complex flavor within their silvery papers. Ginger has a way of doing that. It turns a brown, plain-looking cupcake into a deeply-flavored confection-party just by mingling mischievously with its partners in crime, cinnamon and allspice. Ginger is totally in charge, warming the kitchen with its distinctive sharp fragrance while it's being mixed in the bowl -- even before it starts baking. Ginger endears itself to me each time I come across it, whether present in sweet or savory surroundings. If you did not realize that a root could endear itself to someone, well, think again. If there's a root to personify, it's ginger. 

And since this recipe calls for both ground and freshly grated ginger, the notes are even more nuanced and varied. Good thing February is such a good month for swooning.


Adapted from "Cooking Light"

The recipe states that these cupcakes rise best when baked in foil liners. Foil liners are also pretty.

A tip for grating fresh ginger, courtesy of bestie Alton Brown: use a porcelain ginger grater covered with a piece of plastic wrap. Lift off the plastic wrap when you're done grating; the grated ginger and residual juice is easy to transfer from the plastic into the mixing bowl, and the grater is super-easy to clean.

For the cupcakes:

4.5 oz. all-purpose flour (about 1 c.)
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/8 t. ground allspice
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. unsulphured molasses
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
3 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 t. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the glaze:

2/3 c. powdered sugar
3 to 5 t. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 12 muffin cups with foil liners

In a medium bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and allspice, stirring mixture with a whisk. 

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and molasses. Whisk to incorporate.

Place the brown sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until blended. Add the fresh ginger and egg; mix well. Beating at low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the molasses mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat just until blended. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. You should have enough to fill all 12 cups a little more than half-way.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Start by adding 3 t. of lemon juice, then stir to combine. Add up to 2 more teaspoons of lemon juice to thin the glaze to your liking.

Top each warm cupcake with about 1 teaspoon of glaze. The glaze is yummy, but is very lemony. A little goes a long way.

(Hello, gorgeous.)

Makes 12 cupcakes.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Hmmm, I never think of putting ginger and lemon together in baked things, though of course they work so well together in cooked dishes. I'd assumed the two strong flavors would fight each other, but really, these cupcakes look quite calm -- and oh so delicious!

Dianne said...

I like that: calm cupcakes. You're right -- ginger and lemon are pretty strong-willed flavors, but they really work together here.

vegetablej said...

Hi again:

Cupcakes batting their eyes at you, now that's good writing, brought a smile up when I read it. And I love ginger, too. Have you tried the Yogi tea with ginger and black pepper? Now that's an experience...good for digestion, too.

You have an excelllent blog here: top-notch writing, inventive, good recipes and pictures. All it needs, and I mean this in the whisper in a friend's ear way, is to tweak the presentation. You need a good header, and to clean up the layout a bit and your blog will be playing with the big girls before you know it. If you want to, that is.

Anyway, I always leave here happy with a bunch of ideas, so thanks!!!

Dianne said...

Hey, thanks for the wonderful compliment on my writing -- I really appreciate that! Thanks also for your suggestions. I'm glad you're out there reading!

Now, tea with ginger and black pepper? I NEED to get some of that!