Can I use fresh ginger in my gingerbread instead of powdered?

You can, reader Ginger, if that IS your real name, though you probably don’t want to. The reason: because fresh ginger doesn’t provide as much “ginger” flavor as the dry stuff. You’d think it would since fresh ginger contains more gingerol compounds, and those are closely related to capsaicin (found in chile peppers) and pepperine (found in pepper). They give fresh ginger it’s bright, enlivening flavor. However it’s only why you dry those gingerols out that they’re transformed into compounds called shogaols, which are twice as pungent, and give gingerbreads and gingersnaps their characteristic bite. Heat mitigates some of that power, transforming some of the shogaols into zingerones, which are more aromatic and sweet. And in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not making these words up.

A nice alternative, if you’re looking do do something a little different with your gingerbread this year, is to use candied ginger, which brings a bit more complexity to the party. The only issue there, because candied ginger is so much milder than dried, is that you’ll need to use rather a lot of it. A general rule of thumb is a full half cup of candied ginger for every tablespoon of dried ginger your recipe calls for.

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