Which Cinnamon is Best?
I love cooking and baking with Cinnamon but right now I have three to four different species of cinnamon in my pantry. I bought them during my many travels, in three different continents. I know they all belong to the genus Cinnamomum, family Lauraceae and they all have aromatic oils in their bark. Apart from the species Cinnamomum verum which is actually the true cinnamon and is commonly known as Ceylon cinnamon or Sri Lanka cinnamon (the rest are closely related species which are also sold as ‘cinnamon’). I couldn’t really figure out the rest, so I decided to do a quick search (it’s not exhaustive, please).
The true cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon is a native of Sri Lanka, but is also cultivated commercially, in Seychelles and Madagascar. Sri Lanka produces 80–90% of the world’s supply. It’s expensive and is the preferred in Mexico, Europe and Oceania (I bought mine in Europe). It has a lower oil content, a light aroma and a sweet, delicate and complex flavour. (it’s my cinnamon of choice. It gives a warm sensation to the tip of the tongue, also described as a warm flavour). Ceylon cinnamon quills have many thin layers of bark and can easily be made into powder using a coffee or spice grinder. True cinnamon is great for sweet dishes requiring subtle flavour. (A nice photo of the bark)
The second one, Cinnamomum cassia, (C. aromaticum) commonly known as Chinese cassia, Cassia or Chinese cinnamon, originates from southern China. Most of the spice sold as ‘cinnamon’ in the United States and Canada is Chinese cinnamon (C. cassia). C. cassia bark is used as a flavouring agent for confectionery, desserts, pastries, and meat; it is specified in many curry recipes, where Ceylon cinnamon (true cinnamon) is less suitable. C. cassia quills are extremely hard and are usually made up of one single coiled thick layer. It has a bolder, less subtle flavor than true cinnamon, so it is sometimes referred to as ‘bastard cinnamon.‘ It’s a better choice for savoury dishes.
The third one Cinnamomum loureiroi, also known as Vietnamese cinnamon or Vietnamese cassia, or Saigon Cinnamon, is mainly produced in Vietnam. The bark has the highest oil content and commands the highest price. It’s used primarily for its aromatic bark which has a complex aroma with a spicier flavour. It is closely related to Chinese cassia.
The last one, Cinnamomum burmannii, also known as Indonesian cinnamon/cassia, Padang cassia, or Korintje is a Native to Southeast Asia and Indonesia. “Indonesian cinnamon” is the cheapest, because it has the lowest oil content and is most commonly sold, ground, in the US as cinnamon and the quills are one-layered. There are several other species sold as ‘cinnamon’, which I have not mentioned here. I am sorry for this lengthy description, I needed to get my jars of cinnamon correct. Now for the recipe for Apple cinnamon Sultana Muffins.
Spoon the mixture evenly into prepared muffin tin (pan). I decorated with some almonds and cherries. Bake at 375 (190°c) for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffins, comes out clean. ( I baked the muffins at 400°F (200°C) for 22 minutes.)
Preparation Time: 30 minutes; Baking time: 20-25 minutes; Makes: 15 Muffins
- 250g (2 cups, 9oz) all-purpose flour
- 5ml (1 teaspoon) baking powder
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt (If using unsalted butter)
- 180g (¾ cup, 6½oz) sugar
- 50g (¼ cup, 2oz) sultanas
- 2 eggs
- 375g (1½ cups) applesauce (I used 3 x 104ml (3.4fl oz) Mott’s unsweetened applesauce)
- 125g (½ cup, 4½oz, 1 stick + 1 tablespoon) butter melted
- 60ml (¼ cup, 2fl oz) buttermilk
- I medium apple, peeled, cored and diced
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line two 12-hole, medium, muffin tins (pans) with 15 paper cases. (Mixture makes at least 15 muffins) – You can make the extra in a greased ramekin dish- I do that all the time.
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda (bicarbonate of Soda), cinnamon (and salt if using). Add sugar and sultanas. Mix thoroughly and make a well in the centre.
- Whisk the eggs, apple sauce, melted butter and buttermilk until thoroughly mixed. Add diced apples.
- Pour the egg/butter/apple mixture to the well, stir until combined (do not over mix). Spoon the mixture evenly into prepared muffin tin (pan) and bake at 375 (190°c) for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffins, comes out clean. Remove, let stand for five minutes and then transfer onto a wire rack to cool.
- **I weigh the flour and butter. I do not use cup measures. The weight of a cup of flour tends to vary based on individual interpretation, publication and size of cup used (from 125g to 130g to 155g per cup)
- Cup measures based on assumption that 1 cup flour = 125g so that would be the US cup of 237ml, not the Australian Cup.
Points to note:
- Please note that oven temperatures are given as a guideline only. You may need to add or reduce the suggested temperature depending on your oven. I baked the muffins at 400°F (200°C) for 22 minutes.
- I weigh the flour and butter. You can use cup measures, but please note if you scoop flour directly from the bag you will end up with 150-185 g of flour instead of the recommended 125g. I suggest you spoon the flour into the cup, heaping it up over the top, then slide a knife across the top to level off the extra. Be careful not to shake or tap the cup to settle down the flour or you will have more than you need. You can also sift the flour first then scoop. Best advice: use a weighing scale, you’ll get the best results.
- The muffins are not very sweet. If you prefer more sugar, add 225g (8oz) of sugar or to your taste.