Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hancock Village Steamed Ginger Sponge

When one embarks on a project like this, one accumulates ingredients for dishes long before said dishes actually make their appearance. So it was with Hancock Village Steamed Ginger Sponge. I tracked the preserved ginger down at Rodman's, a very peculiar institution in our neighborhood that sells a wide and disparate array of goods, around Christmas. Pop it went into the cupboard until I had an event to serve it at. Son and daughter-in-law came to dinner and I finally got it together to make this for dessert.
It should be explained that sponge does not refer to either a cleaning implement or a cartoon character. Sponge is what the British call a pudding, which I certainly found confusing in my younger years since pudding to me meant Jello pudding and pie filling. This kind of pudding is steamed, which again may be unfamiliar to American cooks, but is not difficult. What you do need is a pudding basin, which is a smallish ceramic bowl with a rim. The rim is necessary because you have to stretch waxed paper over the top of it, and fasten it with a rubber band. Without the rim, the rubber band goes shooting off and the cook is left cursing.
Anyhow, everybody liked this so if you can run down Canton preserved ginger on the Internet, and have an hour and three-quarters before you may eat dessert to steam it, go ahead. Steaming involves putting the aforementioned pudding basin, filled with raw pudding, and waxed paper stretched over, into a large pot filled half way up with water. Turn on the heat and wait for the water to boil. It should not boil too violently as the pudding basin may tip over. After the water has a nice, even boil, put the lid on the pot to keep the steam in and go about your business.
In case anyone is wondering about Hancock Village, it is a reconstructed Shaker colony in far Western Massachusetts. The Shakers were great eaters, and this recipe has been handed down to us.

Hancock Village Steamed Ginger Sponge

1 cup butter
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (I put in more. I wanted it to be sweet.)
2 eggs well beaten
2 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Canton preserved ginger, drained and cut into small pieces
7 teaspoons syrup from preserved ginger
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1. Cream the butter and gradually add the granulated sugar. Add the eggs.
2. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt and add alternately with the milk to the batter. Add the ginger and one teaspoon ginger syrup. Pour into a buttered one-quart mold and steam one and three-quarters hours.
3. Beat the cream until stiff, sweeten with the confectioners' sugar and flavor with the remaining ginger syrup. Unmold the ginger sponge and serve hot, with the ginger cream.
Makes six servings.

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