As we welcome fall I feel like I need to write about cinnamon. It is probably the most popular spice out there and one that is highly used during fall and holiday baking. Cinnamon is like the life of the party, everyone knows her, everyone is comfortable around her, everyone welcomes her when she arrives, and everyone loves her!
Cinnamon rolls, yep. Snickerdoodle cookies - yes please. Apple pie, you know everyone will always say yes to all of these desserts. There's not people out there that say, oh no thank you, I don't like cinnamon; like they may say for - god forbid - coconut, chocolate, lemon, pistachio or other more interesting flavors. But, no - cinnamon never gets passed over. Cinnamon cereal - probably the most coveted breakfast cereal of all time. Am I right?
But, what you may not know is that there are hundreds of different varieties of cinnamon! Cinnamon is not just one flavor, it can be many different flavors. So if you're having an ah ha moment wondering why grandma's snickerdoodles always taste better than yours, even though you're supposedly following the same recipe - cinnamon may the culprit. You may use different kinds.
While there are hundreds of kinds of cinnamon, there are really only four types that are made commercially that you can easily find at the market. Those four kinds are Ceylon, Cassia, Saigon, and Korintje. Cinnamon comes from trees, specifically the inner bark of trees which is how it gets its brown color. And depending on where the trees are grown, they will produce different flavors of cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon comes from a tree native to Sri Lanka and it is the lightest in color of all the cinnamons. Cassia cinnamon comes from China. Saigon cinnamon comes from Southeast Asia. And much of Korintje cinnamon (also known as Java or Indonesian cinnamon) comes from Western Sumatra. So, of course they taste different! Just like the corn grown in the Midwest is highly superior to the corn grown in California. Different environments will produce different food of the same variety.
The most popular and widely used is Ceylon cinnamon. However, not the best in my opinion. I don't even own any Ceylon cinnamon - not a spec. Just like I rarely eat corn anymore now that I live in California, because to me, it's just not the best corn. And this is all a matter of personal opinion.
My favorite cinnamon is Korintje, it's what we use at the bakery and it's what I use at home. It really has the most true cinnamon flavor, in my opinion. I'm so attached to this kind of cinnamon that I can tell the difference just by smell alone. I got sent Ceylon by my distributor once and when I opened the package to dump it into my tub, I immediately knew it was different. If you're smelling them side by side you should be able to smell a difference and you can even choose one based off the smell alone if one seems better to you.
So, when you reach for the cinnamon this baking season ask yourself if you're happy with your cinnamon. If you're not, then venture out and try another one. Don't be afraid to switch it up! And if you want to give my favorite a go, get Frontier Co-Op Organic Korintje Cinnamon here.