Cinnamon 101

Aromatic, warm and exotic, cinnamon conjures visions of souks and belly dancers, fragrant tagines, or Chinese broths.

07 Nov 2009

Sugar and spice and all things nice always leads me back to warm sugar dusted cinnamon donuts, pancakes with melting cinnamon sugar and sago pudding with cinnamon and honey. Scroll down for some recipes and ideas with this bark.

Cinnamon is the soft, inner bark of the cinnamon tree, a camphor laurel, indigenous to Sri Lanka. As the bark dries and contracts, it rolls itself into tight quills with a sweet and intensely warm aroma. It's very versatile and used in both sweet and savoury dishes.

History of the golden spice
From the earliest times one of the most sought after spices was cinnamon. The demand for spices opened up trade routes between East and West and was important in the history of food. In the 16th and 17th century, cinnamon rivalled gold in value, complicated political manoeuvres and treacherous journeys were undertaken, even territories invaded all to procure this exotic spice. Cinnamon and other spices enlivened otherwise bland dishes and also helped disguise those less fresh!

Ideas with cinnamon

  • Flavour good old chicken stock with Asian spices and transform it into an Asian noodle broth. Add a stick of cinnamon and star anise, chilli, ginger and Chinese rice wine to stock and add shredded chicken or pork and buckwheat (soba) egg or udon noodles.
  • Stir ground cinnamon into brown sugar and use to sprinkle over buckwheat pancakes; fruit before grilling for breakfast or dessert; or tossed into vegetables for roasting.
  • Use cinnamon to smoke pieces of pork or chicken. Sear skinless chicken pieces or a pork fillet in a wok to brown. Place ground cinnamon, sugar and crushed star anise in a foil cup/tray in the bottom of a wok. Place a metal rack over foil cup and place meat to be smoked on rack. Cover tightly and smoke on a high heat for 5 minutes until cooked through. Serve with greens and a good-quality soya or sweet chilli sauce.
  • Poach pork fillet or chicken breasts in a stock made with shredded ginger sautéed in sesame oil, soya, hoisin sauce, sherry, cinnamon, star anise.
  • Make a slow-cooking Moroccan spiced beef tagine with beef shin, cinnamon sticks, cumin, coriander, orange rind, onions and quince or dried apricots. Serve with cinnamon-flavoured couscous, raisins, chopped herbs and roasted almonds.
  • Make a spiced, frozen vanilla yoghurt or tofu ice cream. Stir in chilli flakes, cinnamon and almond biscotti into softened low-fat frozen yoghurt or tofu ice cream, and serve with grilled plums or winter stone-fruit.
  • Brew ground spices and whole cinnamon sticks in strong milky tea to make a spicy, warming chai. Grind together fennel seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, powdered ginger black pepper and black peppercorns and whole cinnamon sticks for a rich, hot healing cuppa which will keep winter bugs away.

5 Recipes with cinnamon:

  1. Easy cinnamon buns
  2. Raisin and cinnamon bread
  3. Cinnamon baked oatmeal
  4. Pancakes with cinnamon sugar
  5. Cinnamon French toast with fresh fruit


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