Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Cinnamon - Cinnamon and Raisin Bread Rolls GF SCD

I thought cinnamon was just "cinnamon" until I started my research and was fascinated to discover that if you live in the United States, the cinnamon you are most likely to buy is known as cassia which is not the "true" cinnamon.
The four main types of cinnamon are:

  • Cinnamomum verum (true cinnamon) from Sri Lanka with a delicate favour with a hint of citrus and a favourite in England, Europe and Mexico.
  • Cinnamomum aromaticum (cassia or Chinese cinnamon) described as extra sweet, spicy and strong and sold as cinnamon in the United States
  • Cinnamomum burmannii (Korintje or Indonesian cinnamon) which is fragrant, sweet and mellow
  • Cinnamomum loureiroi (Saigon cinnamon or Vietnamese cinnamon) known as the strongest, richest and sweetest cinnamon produced.

The first type is believed to be the "true" spice and even though cassia is from the same family as the Sri Lankan cinnamon, there are many "experts" who hold the view that it can't and shouldn't be substituted for "the real thing". So what are the main differences? Both cassia and cinnamon oils contain cinnamaldehyde which gives cinnamon its flavour and much of its healing ability, cassia containing a higher concentration than cinnamon. But cassia has far higher levels of the toxin coumarin which makes it a less favourable choice. The colour, appearance and flavour also differ. Cinnamon bark forms tightly rolled quills (see below). I think they look a little like chocolate flakes!

Cassia has a much looser scroll-like curl. If you want to read more about the differences between "true" cinnamon and cassia, please follow the links.

"I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.." (Proverbs 7:17-18) 

Both spices have a long history. Cinnamon was one of the first spices used in the ancient world. Highly valued, it was traded by the Arabs for gold and silver. The Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon both for its healing qualities and for embalming and it is believed they imported it from China where it can be traced back to at least 2800 BC (this was probably cassia). Cinnamon and cassia are mentioned in the Bible and in the book of Exodus, sweet cinnamon and cassia were ingredients of the sacred anointing oil used by Moses to purify the tabernacle.  Mentioned by the Ancient Greek historian, Herodotus and the Romans philosopher, Pliny the Elder, evidence also suggests that Nero commanded a years supply of cinnamon should be burned in the funeral pyre of his wife to express his grief. Cinnamon played a huge role in the trade wars between the Portuguese, Dutch and the British East India Company who fought for control of the cinnamon trade in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in the 15th to 17th centuries.

Did you know that cinnamon oil can be used to help plump the lips? Apparently it increases the blood circulation in the lip area making the lips seem fuller. But I don't advise you to put concentrated oil on your lips since it can cause excessive irritation.

Medicinal Uses

Cinnamon is an astringent, stimulant and carminative and its healing benefits can be traced back thousands of years to Ancient times. It has been a part of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries. Cinnamon contains both anti-fungal and antibacterial properties as well as demonstrating anti-microbial activity. It is used to assist the treatment of many conditions including :

  • high cholesterol 
  • candida albicans
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • UTIs
  • indigestion
  • H. pylori bacteria
  • arthritis
  • athletes foot
  • colds and flu

Nutritional Benefits

Cinnamon is a very good source of :

  • manganese
  • calcium

and also contains traces of all these nutrients:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B3
  • vitamin B5
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin K
  • folate
  • choline
  • copper
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • selenium
  • zinc

Cooking with Cinnamon

Mexico is the largest importer of "true" cinnamon. It is used extensively in Mexican cooking, coffee and other drinks and the unique taste of Mexican chocolate is due to the cinnamon added during its manufacture. In Asian, African and Western cooking, the sticks and the ground spice are used to flavour savoury dishes and to create the warm, sweet, earthy flavour which is so popular in sweet dishes. Some of the foods it blends particularly well with are :

  • almonds
  • apples
  • butternut squash
  • carrots
  • chocolate
  • figs
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes
  • walnuts

Cinnamon and Raisin Bread Rolls GF SCD

400g ground almonds
100g ground hazelnuts
80-100g raisins
3 eggs
45ml extra virgin olive oil
45ml honey
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
large pinch salt
1 heaped tblsp honey
1 heaped tblsp ground cinnamon

Set the oven to 150°C. Grind the hazelnuts finely in a processor.

Tip in the ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

Pulse the flours until well mixed. In a small bowl whisk the eggs, honey and extra virgin olive oil. Set the processor to a low speed and pour the egg mixture in slowly.

Lay a large piece of baking parchment on the work surface and spoon out the mixture on top of it. Lay another piece of parchment or non PVC food wrap over the top and roll it out until it is about 40cm by 30cm. Cover with more parchment or film wrap and put in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Take it from the fridge, lay it out and sprinkle the raisins over the dough.

Fold one end over the other.

 Roll out again until about 40cm by 20cm. Mix together the heaped tablespoon of honey and cinnamon in a small bowl, add a little more honey if necessary.

Spread the cinnamon and honey over the dough with a knife.

Holding the baking parchment at the far edge, roll the dough over.

Roll again.....

until it the long edge is closed.

Slice into pieces. I sliced this into eight pieces but you could cut more.

Cut some baking parchment and lay on a baking tray. Mould the buns to smooth the edges.

Bake for between 25 and 35 minutes until they sound hollow when tapped underneath. Store in the fridge. These are nice sliced thinly and spread with butter.

These aren't a light and fluffy cinnamon bun, they have an English scone-like texture.

Alternative methods :
  • The dough could be rolled to fit a 2lb loaf tin. A loaf would take about an hour to bake.
  • Instead of making a swirl, the cinnamon could be added to the dry mix.
  • Add the zest of an orange or/and lemon to the dry mix.
  • Use other dried fruits.