You can use whatever tool you prefer—Cunningham suggests a food processor or a knife; a Microplane would work well, too. All make quick work, though it’s helpful to remember that the finer the grind, the stronger the flavors will be. Note: The Breakfast Book version called for a temperature of 350, but in subsequent versions she increased to 375, so that's what I used here. Adapted slightly from The Breakfast Book (Knopf, 1987). —Genius Recipes
A 2-ounce piece unpeeled gingerroot
plus 3 tablespoons sugar
lemon zest (from 2 lemons), with some white pith
Cut the unpeeled ginger into large chunks. If you have a food processor, process the ginger until it is in tiny pieces, or hand chop into fine pieces. (You should have ¼ cup. It is better to have too much ginger than too little.) Put the ginger and ¼ cup sugar in a small skillet or pan and cook over medium heat until the sugar has melted and the mixture is hot. Don’t walk away from the pan—this cooking takes only a couple of minutes. Remove from the stove and let the ginger mixture cool.
Put the lemon zest and 3 tablespoons sugar in the food processor and process until the lemon peel is in small bits; or chop the lemon zest and pith by hand and then add the sugar. Add the lemon mixture to the ginger mixture. Stir and set aside.
Put the butter in a mixing bowl and beat a second or two, add the remaining ½ cup sugar, and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the buttermilk and mix until blended. Add the flour, salt and baking soda. Beat until smooth. Add the ginger-lemon mixture and mix well.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins so that each cup is three-quarters full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.