The Fresh Loaf

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Impact of ginger in recipes

Precaud's picture

Impact of ginger in recipes

Experimenting is what makes breadmaking fun.

A couple weeks ago I bought a large bag of carrots and was looking for ways to use them. My imagination said carrots + molasses + ginger might be interesting. So I modified a carrot bread recipe and made this:

  •   270mL H20        \
      450g AP flour       Autolysed
      60g wheat bran  /
  •   1 tbsp molasses
      1-1/8 tsp SAF yeast
      5g gluten
      1 tsp salt
      150g grated carrots
      8g grated fresh ginger
      50g raisins (added @ mid-knead)

The result as quite good, better than expected, frankly. But I couldn't taste the ginger. Not even a hint of it.

So on Wed I made the same thing, doubling the ginger with a tad more molasses. Result: a slight muting of the other flavors, but still no discernable ginger taste.

Fresh grated ginger is not subtle taste-wise, and it seems to me that 16 grams of the stuff would be pretty impactful.

Any idea what's going on?

tpassin's picture

No Idea of what is going on, but I will second the observations, with regard to non-bread dishes.  I assume that there are effects on the flavor, even if they don't stand up and say "ginger".  That might be better, really - well blended flavors.

As an experiment I asked ChatGPT about this.  The only possibly useful suggestion I got was this:

Ginger's flavor compounds are volatile and can break down with prolonged exposure to heat. If the ginger is added early in the cooking process or subjected to high temperatures for an extended period, its flavor may diminish.

It sounds reasonable, for what it's worth.


Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

I don't have an answer for you, but wanted to chime in and say that I made these Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls last week and even with all the ginger in the dough and filling (3-4x as much as the cinnamon), they still tasted more like cinnamon rolls than gingerbread. The dough smelled and tasted much more gingery than the baked rolls. I thought maybe it was because I used a whole wheat dough base instead of the white flour type in the recipe, but after reading about your experience, I'm less inclined to believe that. I think I'll turn the leftovers into bread pudding and see if that brings out more of the ginger.

Thanks for posting this. Your carrot, molasses, ginger and raisin combo sounds quite nice. Maybe you could add some diced candied ginger in place of or addition to the raisins to reinforce the fresh ginger.

Precaud's picture

on the long exposure to heat, @tpassin. I mostly use ginger in wok stirfry's, which are VERY hot, but only add it at the very end, literally the last minute or so.

And interesting corroboration, @Debra Wink. Quite dramatic considering 3-4 times the cinnamon amount!

Perhaps I need to experiment with straight-up gingerbread before using it as a flavor enhancer in baking.

BTW, the carrots + ginger + molasses + raisins combo didn't just come out of the ethers... it is part of a side dish my deceased ex used to make, which I loved.

squattercity's picture

here's a fascinating article that essentially says cooking ginger makes it sweeter while drying ginger makes it more pungeant:

money quotes:

--"Heating a ginger rhizome causes gingerol to undergo a reverse aldol reaction, transforming it to zingerone, a molecule that is completely absent in fresh ginger. Like gingerol, zingerone is responsible for the pungency of cooked ginger, but it also lends a sweeter note to the flavor."

--"Drying a piece of ginger triggers a dehydration reaction, changing gingerol to shogaol. Shogaol is twice as spicy as gingerol, which is why dried ginger packs more heat than its fresh counterpart."

alcophile's picture

"Reverse aldol"!

"dehydration reaction"!

Now you're talkin' my language!

I studied with a professor who's probably most famous for studying the aldol reaction. One of his students donated a boatload of money to the university and now the professor has a building named after him.

Another factor that may enhance the reverse aldol reaction is the slightly acidic pH found in bread dough; the aldol reaction (and its reverse) is catalyzed by acid. There may also be enzymes present in the yeast (or LAB in SD) that could facilitate the reverse aldol.

HeiHei29er's picture

Based on my experience using ginger root in bread, the ginger root needs to be at least 2% of flour and that’s minimum. Something more in the 4-5% is better.  I also try to use the ginger root in a scald with some of the flour to get those flavors to meld and permeate a portion of the flour.  Not really sure it helps, but it’s what I’ve tried.

I’ve only used fresh ginger root. I’ve never tried ground or dried ginger.

jo_en's picture

I had ginger soaked in lime/lemon juice in a dark rye. The ginger was pronounced.

As for stir fry, I have sliced beef marinating with minced ginger, dry sherry and soy sauce and a bit of cornstarch.

A nice ginger flavor results. Some people lightly stir fry more ginger before frying the beef. Very gingery.

Chinese love ginger flavors!

If you steam fish with ginger shreds on top, then when it is done, heat some oil to almost smoking and drizzle it and sizzle the ginger to bring out its flavor.

Hope this helps!

Precaud's picture

Looks like experimenting with a scald/presoak would be the next step.

I love Chinese food and stir fry once or twice a week. Have no problem maintaining the ginger taste there.

alcophile's picture

I noticed the same effect of diminished ginger presence when I made the Ginger-Plum Bread (Zwetschgen-Ingwer Brot) in Ginsberg's The Rye Baker. I doubled the amount of ginger but still found the flavor faint. The ginger I used wasn't super juicy fresh, but I was still surprised by the result.

ws.hicks's picture

Not sure if you have got the answer but this video from America's Test Kitchen come to my mind. I remembered that their explanation was very clear and thorough, although it just went through my head since I don't use ginger that much.

Precaud's picture

Thank you.

I stirfried with ginger last night, mixing it into a sauce of fresh lime juice, hoisin, red chili in oil, and a little water. One of my faves.