Home & Garden: The Christmas Spice
Thursday, December 15, 2016 10:31 AM
Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger are the traditional spices associated with the flavors and aromas of Christmas. Of them all, ginger — found in everything from gingerbread to German Pfeffernüsse, in fresh, powdered and candied form — is my favorite. To help in making it your favorite as well, I’m sharing a few holiday recipes that showcase ginger.
But first, a brief discussion of a subject dear to my heart. Forget red or blue state, Clinton or Trump: the real division in this country lies with fruitcake lovers versus fruitcake deniers. I love any fruitcake. I’ll happily consume the saddest, leftover sticky slice, washed down with a cup of tea, long after the holidays have become a dim memory. But I don’t expect you to do so, my friends. For you, I offer this lovely ginger-laden, fruit-studded confection guaranteed to bring the most dogged fruitcake denier into the fold. You can make this cake with rum, but I prefer Grand Marnier; for a non-alcoholic version, substitute orange or apricot juice.
Golden Ginger Fruitcake
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grease and flour two 9x5-inch loaf pans or one 10-inch tube pan. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add 1⁄2 cup rum and vanilla. Combine spices, baking powder and salt with three cups of flour and add to wet ingredients. Mix remaining cup of flour with nuts, fruit and ginger and stir into batter (flouring them keeps the fruit and nuts from sinking to the bottom of the cake). Pour batter into pans and bake for about 11⁄2 hours. Cake should still be slightly moist. Brush remaining rum or Grand Marnier over top of cake while still warm or mix fruit juice with equal amount of sugar, cook until syrupy, and spread this over the cake.
- 11⁄2 cups butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1⁄2 cup plus 3 Tbsp. rum (or substitutes mentioned above)
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. each ground cinnamon and nutmeg
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 2 cups pecans, chopped
- 1 cup each dried pineapple, dried apricots, dried pears and candied ginger, chopped
Here’s a last-minute gift that’s easy to make, if you’ve ever made jam before. If you haven’t, it’s a simple one for a beginner. Notice there is no added pectin, which many jam makers use to ensure their confection will be thick and spreadable. But pectin, such as Sure-Jell, in my opinion, makes the fruit in preserves taste flat and dull. Lemons contain lots of natural pectin, so this marmalade needs none added, yet it will still sit upon your toast in a tidy mound.
Ginger Lemon Marmalade
Cut lemons into paper-thin slices, then quarter and seed each slice. Place in an eight-quart flat-bottomed pan.
Add water and bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat. Reduce heat and continue to boil for 30 minutes. Stir in sugar and ginger and boil gently until mixture registers 218 to 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and pour into sterilized canning jars. Cover with lids and screw on bands, then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes four pints.
- 10 small lemons (about 3 lbs.)
- 1 quart water
- 5 cups sugar
- 1⁄2 cup candied ginger, chopped
If you can find time to bake amidst the tumult of Christmas morning, ginger scones are the perfect sweet-but-not-too-sweet breakfast treat. Even better, they mix up in one bowl and are baked on a parchment-lined sheet for fast clean-up afterwards.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in candied ginger and fresh ginger. Make a well in the center of the dry mix and pour in butter and buttermilk. Mix gently until flour mixture is fully incorporated. Divide the mixture into two balls, turn onto a floured surface, and flatten each into a 1-inch-thick, 6-inch-wide circle. Slice each circle into six wedges. Transfer to the baking sheet, spacing at least an inch apart. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
- 3 cups flour
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
- 1⁄4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup finely chopped candied ginger
- 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger (tip: use your microplane)
- 3⁄4 cup buttermilk (or add a Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice to plain milk and let it sit for five minutes before using)
- 10 Tbsp. butter, melted
- 1 Tbsp. coarse sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)