Cinnamon is great for almost everything, and as fall settles in, it is also the perfect season for this unique spice seen as a hallmark of the holidays. Let’s take a look at some of the best uses for it, from cakes to cookies and even rice
When thinking of this spice, the first thing that comes to mind for me personally is fall and the holiday season. Christmas without “Zimtsterne,” literally meaning cinnamon stars, is unthinkable for me. But cinnamon is not restricted to the sweet side of the taste spectrum. Many recipes, especially from the Middle East, love to add a touch of cinnamon to savory dishes, which works surprisingly well.
The classic but simpler: Cinnamon bun cake
You read that right, I’m talking about a cinnamon bun in cake form. As much as I love to work with dough, I lack the time to let the yeast work, roll it out and all the rest that goes into it. Not that it takes much effort but after a day’s work, one just can’t find the energy to go all out. So here I present you with a version that I have come to love!
For the dough
- 75 grams soft butter or margarine
- 2 eggs
- 360 milliliters milk
- 420 grams flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 150 grams sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
- 10 grams baking powder
For the cinnamon mix
- 120 grams butter
- 100 grams sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons flour
- 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
For the Icing
- 200 grams powdered sugar
- 5-6 tablespoons milk
- 1-2 tablespoons cream cheese
First off, you want to make the dough by whisking the sugar, salt and eggs together until it gets light and fluffy. Gradually work in all the other ingredients but do not overstir it. Mix all the ingredients and pour them into a greased, wide baking tin of your choice. Next comes the cinnamon mixture! Melt the butter and carefully brown it. Turn the heat off and mix in the sugar, flour and cinnamon and stir it until there are no clumps left. Pour this mix over the dough and, with the help of a fork, marble it into the dough. Again, do not overdo it as you still want streaks of cinnamon to give it the same look as the buns. Bake that in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (355 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 20 minutes.
While that is baking, prepare the icing by mixing the powdered sugar, milk and cream cheese. The key here is to apply this to the cake when it is still warm. So, once out of the oven let the cake rest for 10 minutes at most and then pour the mix all over. This will allow the cake to better absorb the icing.
Gluten-free cinnamon cookie: Zimtsterne
These cookies are a bit chewy and could be considered more of a macaroon but then again aren’t macaroons cookies too? Either way, if you don’t live in Germany or one of its neighbors these might be hard to come by, and to be perfectly honest: the store-bought ones just can’t compete with their homemade counterparts. For one, you know what is in it! The star shape is of course optional, so go nuts and get creative with different shapes!
For the dough
- 500 grams ground hazelnuts and/or almonds
- 300 grams powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- A few drops of almond extract
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons water, optional
For the meringue top
- 1 egg white
- 125 grams powdered sugar
For the cookies, you need to combine all the ingredients for the dough, except the water, and knead it until you get a firm and sticky dough. If it is still very crumbly and seems like you won’t be able to roll it out, you want to work in the two tablespoons of water. It doesn’t seem like much but it makes all the difference. Use two sheets of baking paper to roll out the dough to get a fairly thin layer and carefully cut out the shapes you like. Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper and repeat the process until there is no dough left. If you do not have a problem with gluten, you can sprinkle some flour on the surface before rolling out your dough and then use just one piece of baking paper.
For the meringue, beat the egg white for a bit so it starts to get fluffy, then gradually add the powdered sugar and continue mixing for five minutes until it thickens. Spread the meringue on the cookies with the back of a teaspoon, a brush, or your fingers.
Bake the cookies at 150 degrees Celsius for about 10-15 minutes until the meringue hardens but doesn’t change color.
Cinnamon carrot rice
If you like rice and the sweetish taste of carrots you’ll love this combination. It might not look spectacular but the taste is different from the classic Turkish pilaf for sure.
- 1 onion
- 1-2 carrots
- 360 grams rice
- 400 milliliters water
- 2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
- Salt, pepper, to taste
- A bit of butter
Finely chop onion and carrot then melt a bit of butter in a pan to saute them until the onions soften. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon then add the rice into the mix as well. Pour some hot water onto the rice and close off with a lid. Turn the heat to low once it starts to boil and let it cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until the rice softens.
You can go as fancy as you like by adding a variety of nuts to this mix. Almonds are a great addition for example. To make this even sweeter you can add dried currants shortly after the water has been added to the rice.