Cinnamon, winter fragrance – Salt & Pepper – Italian Cuisine

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If there is a perfume capable of immediately recalling images in winter and taking us into warm and comfortable atmospheres, it is undoubtedly that of cinnamon. Just think of a cup of steaming mulled wine or the aroma that comes from a slice of spice cake, to find all the "magic" of cinnamon.
This spice is among the oldest known and used in cooking, is even mentioned in the Bible and there are traces of its presence in ancient Egypt. The name refers to typical barrel shape given to the leaves of bark of the plant to preserve and dry them. The cinnamon stick, in fact, is formed by the superimposition of these very thin sheets rolled and threaded one inside the other. It is also available on the market in powder form but has less aromatic intensity than sticks.

There are many virtues of this spice, as they explained to us Simona Recanatini is Sonia Sassi, authors of the book "The forgotten flavors":" At one time cinnamon was considered highly aphrodisiac and today it is appreciated for many other properties. Has antioxidant power is antibacterial properties, plays a calming antispasmodic action, helps to lower blood sugar, triglycerides and bad cholesterol, improves digestion and gives relief in case of nausea. It is also useful for fight against colds, raise blood pressure, relieve menstrual pain, fight nervous hunger and "warm up" the body, it contains a substance, cinnamic aldehyde, which stimulates thermogenesis and increases energy expenditure".

112625Cinnamon is the protagonist of winter confectionery, particularly in Northern European desserts such as the spice cake and i Kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls). If it is impossible to think about apple strudel or ai lebkuchen (the traditional spicy biscuits that are prepared in Germany for Christmas) without immediately associating them with the aroma of cinnamon, it is less common to imagine the use of this spice in savory preparations. Instead, since the Roman era, cinnamon was used to flavor stews or stracotti of beef and goes perfectly in recipes with the game.

Surprisingly, Simona and Sonia still tell us, “cinnamon peeps out in first courses like la nociata, a pasta with chopped walnuts that is served in some areas of Lazio during the Christmas holidays, and in spaghetti of Roman origin seasoned with ricotta diluted in milk and dusted with sugar and cinnamon ”.
A pinch of cinnamon smells and pleasantly characterizes even tea, hot chocolate, spirit, as well as the famous mulled wine and sangria.

It is therefore the right time to choose a recipe, take the can with sticks out of the pantry and fill the kitchen with the unmistakable scent of cinnamon! We suggest you turn on the oven to prepare the Marco's apple pie, recipe from the book "The forgotten flavors" and a gift from a friend of the authors. It is a simple, family cake, one of those that are passed from generation to generation and have the power to comfort and warm up on the coldest days of the year.

Marco's apple pie

Ingredients for 4-6 people
1.5kg of apples
500g of flour
250g of sugar
250g of butter
5 egg yolks
organic lemon peel
cinnamon powder, salt

Method
Peel the apples and cut them into slices. Cook them with 4 tablespoons of sugar and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Put together all the other ingredients to prepare a short pastry, mixing them without working them too much. Form a ball and put it in the fridge for half an hour wrapped in plastic wrap. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin (if you help yourself with two sheets of parchment paper it will be easier …) and cover a previously greased and floured cake pan with half the dough. Pour the apples on the rod, sprinkle some more with cinnamon and cover with the remaining shortcrust pastry. Seal the edges well and bake at 200 ° C for about 10 minutes then continue cooking at 180 ° C for another 35 minutes.

Claudia Minnella
December 2017
updated to November 2019

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