Ginger has been used in British baking for many years in gingerbreads, ginger cakes, parkins and ginger snaps. Although you can occasionally use grated fresh root ginger in cakes and biscuits, ground ginger is more generally used and, in some recipes, the flavour of ginger can be increased and enhanced by adding crystallised or preserved stem ginger.
Ginger has a spicy and hot taste and it can be used to dominate the flavours or to give a little kick. Ginger goes very well with fruits such as rhubarb, plums and greengages and can be added to the fruits when they are made into crumbles. It can also be put into savoury pastries, whether in a vegetarian mixture or with chicken or shellfish. In this case it is best to use grated root ginger. When buying root ginger, make sure it is smooth and plump. The branches should break off with a good snap and it can be stored, well-wrapped, for four weeks.
Why not add a little stem ginger to mincemeat, which will give a fiery punch to traditional mince pies, or try a variation on a carrot cake by using parsnips and carrots spiced with ginger and cinnamon.
l Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from Leiths School of Food and Wine