Cinnamon: The World’s Most Popular Baking Spice

Cinnamon’s distinctive taste and aroma can be enjoyed solo as in cinnamon rolls, or in tandem with other warm spices like cloves, nutmeg, and allspice: in cakes, cookies and fruit crisps, breads and pies, puddings, ice cream—you name it!

It’s also common in savory dishes—like soups, sauces, chutneys, curries, catsup, pickles, squash, potatoes, green beans, red beets, applesauce, vinegars, meat, fish and poultry glazes and marinades and grains. Or try it in hot drinks like cider, coffee, tea, and cocoa, too.

It depends on the cook developing the blend, of course, but because it complements so many foods and other spices, you can often find cinnamon in many spice blends, such as curry powder, garam masala, sambhar powder, and five spice powder. Baking blends like apple pie spice and pumpkin pie spice, as well as many pickling blends, seafood boil blends, tea blends (like Chai), and mulling spice blends also rely upon cinnamon.

While the names cinnamon and cassia are often used interchangeably—and the plants are related—there are botanical and practical differences. Cassia is reddish-brown and pungently sweet; it’s grown primarily in China and the Indonesian islands. (The outer bark isn’t removed during the harvesting of cassia.) True cinnamon, on the other hand, is buff-colored and mild; it generally comes from Sri Lanka (ancient Ceylon, from which it gets its name) and the Malabar Coast of India. Cinnamon is considered a more complex flavor, spicy rather than sweet, with woody undertones. Each holds its place in various ethnic cuisines and kitchens. Most of the powdered cinnamon sold in supermarkets today is cassia.

By the way, you can tell cinnamon sticks from cassia sticks by the way they curl: cinnamon sticks roll from only one side, but cassia sticks curl inward from both sides toward the center.

About our cinnamon: Our Indonesian cassia (Cinnamomum burmanii) — considered the most flavorful in the world — comes from Mt. Korintje in Sumatra, where the altitude contributes to the spice’s intense, reddish-brown color and strong flavor.

In the mountainous regions of North Vietnam, farmers harvest Frontier’s Vietnamese cinnamon (Cinnamomum loureirii) from trees that have matured at least 20 years. Its pungent aroma and rich flavor is the result of the high oil content; we purchase cinnamon cut from the base of the tree, where the highest concentration or oil is found. We also offer Cinnamomum verum, or “true cinnamon,” from Sri Lanka.

Now that we’ve got you craving this delicious spice, here’s a simple way to enjoy it — perfect for a winter’s day. Wrap your hands around a mug of this wonderful hot beverage. No baking required!

Cinnamon Soother

2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon favorite green or black tea
1 teaspoon dried chamomile leaves
2 teaspoons honey (or to taste)
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon cinnamon granules
2 cinnamon sticks (for stirring)

Pour boiling water over tea and chamomile leaves. Steep, covered, for about 10 minutes. Strain. Stir in honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon granules. Pour into two cups and add cinnamon stick stirrers. Serve hot or iced.

Of course, since cinnamon is so popular for baking, here are some other recipes containing cinnamon you may want to try.

We’d love to hear your favorite ways to savor the flavor of cinnamon.

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