Cinnamon is the dried bark of an evergreen tree that is grown in Sri Lanka, Southern India and the West Indies. It is available in small sticks or ground into a powder. The sticks are usually used to make an infusion, for example warmed in milk for custard tarts.
Generally, when baking, it is best to buy and use ground cinnamon, as the sticks are difficult to grind to a smooth enough powder. It goes very well with many autumn fruits, including apples, pears, plums and damsons. If making crumbles with these fruits, add some cinnamon to both the filling and the topping. Make a plum or rhubarb and pecan streusel cake by putting either plums or rhubarb on top of a cake mixture and covering with a strongly cinnamon-flavoured pecan streusel mixture before baking.
Cinnamon also mixes well with other spices such as ginger, nutmeg and cloves and will easily take either a starring or supporting roll in the line-up of spices in a particular product. Another good combination is with chocolate, so try adding a little cinnamon to both chocolate cakes and tarts.
Try making chocolate and cinnamon kisses by adding cinnamon to the basic chocolate mixture and sandwiching together with a chocolate and cinnamon butter cream.
Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine