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10 of our favourite sweet and savoury cinnamon recipes

10 of our favourite sweet and savoury cinnamon recipes

by Great British Chefs 10 October 2017

Cinnamon adds a mellow, warming sweetness to desserts and is an integral part of Middle Eastern cookery. See how some of the UK’s top chefs and food writers make the most of this important spice.

Long before anyone realised it could be used in cooking, cinnamon was highly prized for its aromatic qualities. As far back as 2000 BC, the Egyptians used cinnamon as part of the embalming process for mummies, and it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that it began to be used as a preservative.

These days we know better, of course. Cinnamon is essential in so many desserts, but it’s also equally at home in savoury dishes, lending sweet, spicy undertones to anything from a classic fruit crumble to rich Middle Eastern and Asian dishes. We’ve pulled together both of those and more besides – read on for our pick of the best cinnamon recipes, courtesy of some of Britain’s best chefs and food writers. Just remember to keep your spices fresh – the flavour of cinnamon fades over time, so if yours has been languishing at the back of a cupboard for months, it’s time to restock.

1. Beetroot and beef curry

Cinnamon is a common addition to many Indian curries, but this lesser-known dish from Sumayya Usmani is a world away from the standard takeaway fare. Beetroot and beef are paired together for a rich, earthy flavour that’s perfect for autumn and winter, and because the curry is left to simmer for over an hour the meat is meltingly tender. The cinnamon gives it an extra kick of warmth, while black cardamom adds an interesting smoky element.

2. Cinnamon buns

Who can say no to a cinnamon bun? The ultimate example of why Nordic baking is so popular right now, these chewy, sticky spiral-shaped buns are packed with warming cinnamon, with some cardamom thrown in for good measure. To get the iconic spiral effect, simply roll out the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar, then roll it up into a sausage and cut into rounds. Nothing will complement your morning coffee better.

3. Vietnamese spiced smoked duck breast

Vietnam is another country where you’ll find cinnamon used with aplomb; a stick or two always make their way into the national dish pho, and the majority of curry pastes and marinades make the most of its warming flavour. This smoked duck breast is no exception, combining cinnamon with star anise, coriander and chilli to marinade the meat before hot-smoking it over woodchips. If you’re looking to do something a bit different with your barbecue, then this is a great recipe to try out.

4. Cinnamon doughnuts

While these are technically more like churros, Kevin Mangeolles adds an extra kick of flavour by mixing a generous pinch of cinnamon into the sugar coating for his doughunts, served with a homemade chocolate sauce. Cinnamon and chocolate might not be a combination you see often, but they actually pair together very well – the rich, sweet chocolate benefiting from the warmth of spice.

5. Beef rendang

A real umami bomb, beef rendang is an Indonesian speciality that was originally created to help preserve meat in the hot climate. It soon became popular across Asia thanks to its intensely savoury flavour, which is bolstered by sweet coconut and cinnamon. It’s easy to make, and by the time the beef has finished slowly simmering in its sauce you’re rewarded with one of the tastiest beef dishes on the planet.

6. Gluten-free cinnamon cheesecake

Cheesecake is the ultimate comfort food, and Victoria Glass’ baked cinnamon cheesecake is perfect if you’re craving something indulgent, warming and full of flavour. Victoria creates a gluten-free base for her cheesecake, but you can use crushed up biscuits if you’re not following a free-from diet. Make sure you leave enough time for the cake to cool in the fridge and you’ll be rewarded with a wobbly, just-set filling that’s full of cinnamon flavour.

7. Beetroot and pumpkin soup

Healthy, delicious and particularly good on an autumn evening, this simple soup takes less than an hour to make and only requires eight ingredients. Earthy beetroot and sweet pumpkin are natural bedfellows, and they both pair very well with cinnamon and nutmeg, the two spices used to give this soup a little extra oomph. Served alongside a good hunk of crusty bread, this is the sort of recipe you’ll soon find yourself cooking week after week.

8. Fig tart with cinnamon ice cream

You’ll see cinnamon and figs served together throughout the Middle East, and Tom Aikens’ sticky fig tart takes inspiration from the cuisine with a few scoops of cinnamon ice cream on the side. The puff pastry tart is topped with a crème pâtissière and fig halves, with icing sugar and cinnamon powder dusted over the top. The cinnamon ice cream is so good, however, we’d happily eat a bowlful of it on its own.

9. Hyderabadi lamb shanks

Cinnamon is used throughout many regions of India, but it’s in Hyderabad, towards the south of the country, that skilled cooks really know how to use it. As part of a perfectly balanced spice mix, it blends with the other flavours to create an entirely new flavour. Alfred Prasad uses whole sticks to flavour the braising liquid for lamb shanks, which are then slowly cooked over four hours until the meat is falling apart and intensely flavoured. A stunning example of Hyderabadi cuisine.

10. Lamb tagine

Travel from India to Morocco and you’ll continue to find lamb and cinnamon paired together. The rich lamb contrasts with sweet dried apricots, while a cinnamon stick slowly releases its delicious flavour into the delicately spiced sauce. Whether you’ve got the iconic tall tagine pot or not, serve this up at a dinner party and watch everyone help themselves to seconds.

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